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Track Your Word Count and Progress with Scrivener

progress bar with "Work in progress" beneath [1]

2016 has been a busy year. My youngest son graduated from high school, my husband retired from the Air Force, family flew in for the big events, and we recently moved from Boston to Sacramento. By recently, I mean we drove into town on Sunday, and I’m writing this blog post from a hotel room.

This is pretty much the only writing I’ve done since May, but now that we’re waiting to close on a house, I finally have time to get back to my book. (Yay!) Which means new word count goals.

Luckily, Scrivener makes setting goals and tracking progress easy. No math required. Whether you want to see your progress toward a word count target for a manuscript, a writing session, or a single document, Scrivener has you covered.

Setting a Manuscript Target

Here’s how to use Project Targets to set—and track progress toward—your manuscript word count goal. This applies only to text written in documents or folders within the Draft/Manuscript folder.

  1. Go to Project—>Show Project Targets (Mac) or Project—> Project Targets (Windows). The upper section displays a progress bar and word count for your manuscript.
    mac project target window [2]
    win project target window [3]
  2. Click in the number box after the word “of” beneath the upper progress bar to enter a goal for the entire manuscript.
  3. Press Enter/Return.
    mac entering a manuscript target [4]
    Win entering a manuscript target [5]

    Mac users click Apply. The progress bar fills with color (in graduated shades from red to green) as you add words.

Mac progress bar for manuscript target [6]
win progress bar for manuscript target [7]

You can close the Project Targets window and open it periodically to check your status, or leave it open while you write.

Choosing What Counts Toward Your Manuscript Target

Mac Users

On the Mac, Scrivener’s default is to only count documents marked “Include in Compile” (either in the Compile window or in the Inspector) toward manuscript progress. You can change that behavior by clicking the Options button in the Project Targets window and deselecting “Count documents included in compile only.”

mac target options window [8]

I also recommend you deselect “Target applies to current compile group only.” Turning these off will ensure Scrivener counts all text added/removed from any document within the Draft/Manuscript folder.

Windows Users

The Windows version counts everything written in documents or folders within the Draft/Manuscript folder by default, but if you’d like to limit the manuscript progress count only to items marked “Include in Compile” (either in the Compile window or in the Inspector), check the “Documents included in compile only” box in the Project Targets window.

Windows target options [9]

Setting a Session Target

Setting a target for—and tracking progress toward—a daily or session goal is simple.

  1. If the Project Targets window isn’t already open, go to Project—>Show Project Targets (Mac) or Project—>Project Targets (PC).
    The lower section displays a progress bar and word count for your writing session. This can be a single goal for the day, or you can change it for each writing session (great for sprints).
  2. Click after the word “of” in the number box beneath the Session Target bar to enter a goal for your current writing session, and press Enter/Return. Mac users click Apply.
    The color bar fills to represent your progress toward your goal, changing from red to green as you add words.
mac session target and progress [10]
win session target and progress [11]

Understanding Session Word Counts

Mac Users

The session target only counts text added to documents marked to “Include in Compile,” regardless of your selections under Options. That means if you’ve recently excluded a portion of your manuscript during the Compile process, your session count will be incorrect if you’re working in one of the excluded documents.

To quickly mark them as included, go to File—>Compile and select the desired documents under the Include column in the Contents pane (to select all of them, hold Option key and click any empty checkbox in the Include column), then hold the Option key down to change the Compile button to Save. Click Save.

Windows Users

The session target always counts text written in documents that are within the Draft/Manuscript folder, no matter what.

Resetting the Session Count

If at any time you want to clear the progress toward your session goal (e.g. your timer went off and you’re starting over), click the Reset button on the Project Targets window.

Going Negative

The Project Targets window displays net words, so if you delete more words from your manuscript than you add, your session count will be negative.

Pasting vs. Moving

Pasting words into—or deleting them from—a document will affect your manuscript and session count, however if you move an entire document into or out of the Draft/Manuscript folder, only the manuscript count changes.

Document Targets

In addition to project and session targets, Scrivener also lets you set a target for a specific document. If you want to hit a minimum word count for a magazine article, essay, blog post, scene, or chapter (if you use a single document for each), this is the feature to use.

Once set, your progress displays in the status bar at the bottom of the document. No need to open a separate window.

  1. To start, view the document for which you want to set a target.
  2. Click the circular target icon at the far right end of the status bar in the footer.
    mac entering document target [12]
    win entering doc target [13]
  3. Enter the word count goal.
  4. Click OK.
  5. The word count/target and a progress bar are now visible in the status bar.
mac doc progress bar and count [14]
win doc progress bar and count [15]

Happy tracking!

Got questions? Feel free to ask me about this, or any, Scrivener topic. Or tell me how you track your writing progress.

About Gwen Hernandez [16]

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies [17], Productivity Tools for Writers, and the “Men of Steele” series (military romantic suspense). She teaches Scrivener to writers all over the world through online classes [18], in-person workshops, and private sessions. Learn more about Gwen at gwenhernandez.com [19].