How to Split and Merge Documents in Scrivener

Scenes are the building blocks of your story. So let’s take a quick look at the definition of a scene.

Jack M. Bickham, in his book Scene & Structure, defines scene this way:

It’s a segment of story action, written moment-by-moment, without summary, presented onstage in the story “now.”

James Scott Bells says in Plot & Structure:

Much of the time a scene takes place in a single location, and almost always is played out in real time.

A scene has a goal, conflict, and a climax in miniature, in one character’s POV.

I write my stories one scene at a time, and not necessarily in the order that they happen. That’s why I like using Scrivener so much, because in Scrivener I can move those scenes around as many times and to as many places as I like by using drag and drop.

I know many writers are making the switch from MS Word to Scrivener, so today I’m going to show you how to split those chapters you imported from Word into individual documents that represent each scene of your story.

Splitting your chapters into scenes

Select in the Binder the chapter you want to work on. Within that chapter place your cursor where you want to split the document, then right click your mouse.

Choose Split at Selection.

Scrivener split document

This will split your document. Immediately below that document in your Binder you’ll see the new one. Scrivener automatically assigns the the first several words of the new document for it’s title. The words are highlighted in blue and you can type whatever title you want.

A second way is to place your cursor where you want to split your document, then select Document from the toolbar, and Split at Selection.

Scrivener split document 2

If you select a portion of the beginning text you want to split, then you can choose Split with Selection as Title, and that becomes the title of your document.

Once you have split all your chapters into scenes, you can move those scenes to new places if you choose—even in to a whole new chapter. And like all things computer, there is more than one way to do it.

  1. You can drag and drop from your Binder, or
  2. Go to the Corkboard and drag and drop the index card.

Uh-oh, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to split those documents.

Merging Documents

Guess what, it’s easy to merge any document, even if they weren’t one to begin with.

Hold down the Ctrl Key on your keyboard and using your mouse, click on each document in the Binder you want to merge. That means you can merge 2, 20, or any number you need. Then go to Documents → Merge. And voila your documents are merged.

If you like using keyboard shortcuts, you’ll see the keyboard shortcut next to each command in the pictures above.

I’ll be teaching a workshop on Scrivener at the upcoming Word Sowers Writers Conference in Omaha, NE on April 29-30. Register here. I also give individual lessons via Skype for $30/hr. If interested, fill out the contact form here (it’s at the bottom of the page).

Have a question? Leave it in the comment box and I’ll answer by day’s end.

Want to get published but don’t know where to start?

Maybe you have a finished manuscript or just an idea stuck in your head. Email me today at Deb [at] DebraLButterfield [dot] com, and let's discuss how I can help you reach your dream of publication.


  1. How do you unmerge it to make it appear on the tree on the left as scenes again?

    • Sally, if you’ve merged some documents and change your mind, you only need to split them again. Unfortunately, it isn’t a case of “undo,” and it’s back the way it was, but you still get back your document. You’ll have to name it and move where you want it.

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