Of course I’m spending hours fiddling with writing tools instead of writing, what else would I be doing. I fail to get along with Scrivener

I have a folder full of LibreOffice documents, and it’s getting unwieldy. I could really do with something more like an IDE for writing — which is precisely what Scrivener promises.

A lot of people I know love Scrivener and wouldn’t do without it. So I’d say you should definitely try it — but I’m not a fan.

Check this out:


Scrivener can’t do multiple anchors to a footnote, Wine‘s font rendering is awful, Scrivener doesn’t do font fallback for missing Unicode characters — and its inline footnote display is eye-bleeding.

(LibreOffice renders fonts with HarfBuzz — like anything sensible does — and does fallback with fontconfig or its built-in font list. The font above is Microsoft’s 1990s take on Monotype Garamond, which used to come with Microsoft Office — though Microsoft forgot to include the bold italic. LibreOffice’s fallback font for Chinese characters is Noto Sans CJK SC Regular.)

The real dealbreaker is that Scrivener cannot do footnotes with multiple anchors — where one footnote (or endnote) is referred to several times, with the same number anchoring it in the text.

LibreOffice does multiply-anchored footnotes using a kludgy cross-reference mechanism — same as Microsoft Word. This is disconcertingly terrible when I’m used to the Wikipedia visual editor — if you cut’n’paste a reference anchor on Wikipedia, it creates a second anchor to the same reference, which is pretty much always what you want. If you do this in LibreOffice or Word, it creates a duplicate footnote — I’m at a loss as to when this would ever be the right thing to do.

Macintosh Scrivener can apparently do multiply-anchored footnotes — but the Windows version is a legacy leftover that gets occasional patches.

I first went “ick” at Scrivener ‘cos the actual word processor is not great — I’ve been spoilt by LibreOffice Writer, which is awesome — but not being able to do multiply-anchored footnotes without ridiculous workarounds is a hard fail.

Next — see if Zotero in LibreOffice is less painful, at least for doing multiply-anchored footnotes.

(No, I’m not interested in trying LATEX.)

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2 Comments on “Of course I’m spending hours fiddling with writing tools instead of writing, what else would I be doing. I fail to get along with Scrivener”

  1. I haven’t tried Scrivener-for-Windows. And I have definitely not tried Scrivener-for-Windows-through-WINE.

    But Scrivener-for-Mac has been quite sufficient for most of what I’ve been doing where something that is a smidgen more competent than “just a textfile” is appropriate. Not quite as good as LaTeX, for the various weird things that are sometimes handy (like, say, keeping notes across multiple works, a sub-directory and symlinks makes that really easy). It does make it really easy to export to a multitude of formats, including multiple variations of “standard manuscript format”, though.

  2. turns out Zotero is vastly more complex to do not quite what I want to do either. So, faffy cross-references it is then!

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