Why Scrivener Isn’t WYSIWYG

I started re-reading “The Compile Format Designer” chapter in the Scrivener Manual (Scrivener, Help -> Scrivener Manual, chapter 24) today.

Note: The steps and screenshots that follow are for Scrivener 3.2.2 on a MacBook running MacOS Big Sur 11.2. If you have a different version or platform, some adjustments may be needed.

To facilitate some experimentation, I created a dummy project with two chapters and a couple of gobbledegook scenes (Project -> New Text) and, in Compile, duplicated one of the manuscript Formats (naming it DeleteMe so I’d remember this compile style was a playground where the neighborhood cat has probably pooped in the sandbox).

“Aha!” number 1: The format of text (and headings) is determined twice, first when you are sitting in your chair and typing it in, and then for a second time when you compile to generate a particular output (such as docx, PDF, or Print), and for a particular shape (6×9 paperback, manuscript, Proof Copy, etc.).

The first format, what you see on the screen, is set BEFORE you create a new scene. It’s in Scrivener -> Preferences, Editing, Formatting. (NOTE: Previously created scenes used whatever format was in effect at Project -> New Text time. To change them, you’ll need to select all the text therein and change font, etc. to what you want.)

Bobble-head: There’s a “this project only” override in Project -> Project Settings, Formatting. As above, however, it needs to be set BEFORE adding the New Text file.

The second format, what you see in the compiled output, is set in the Compile, Format AND ALSO DEPENDS ON the Compile For setting.

What this means is that there isn’t a setting #2 but rather settings #2 through maybe #100 , one for each COMBINATION OF output file type (Compile for: rtf, docx, PDF, Print) and output shape (Formats: 6×9 paperback, manuscript, Proof Copy, etc.).

Eureka moment: Microsoft Word is fixated on the WYSIWYG world. What you see on the LCD is what you’ll see on the paper. If your only experience of document formatting is Microsoft Word, the much larger world of Scrivener may seem befuddling at first.

Yes, Bunky, the real world is complicated!

Scrivener supports the complexity of the publishing world. Consequently, the choices you need to make require a bit of mind stretching.

Depending on the (compiled) output combination of file type and shape, the number of characters on a line, the font, line spacing, paragraph indents, and so on are all determined by your choices. A WYSIWYG view of your text is not possible until you choose both file type and shape.

Consider, for example, an e-book. Scrivener can generate an e-book output of your text. An e-book, unlike other outputs, has NO inherent font. Instead, the person who downloads and reads your e-book sets the font THEY LIKE. They also choose the point size as preferred for their eyes. And, depending on how they hold their tablet or cell phone while reading, the “page” on their display is formatted by their app into Portrait or Landscape, and then changes to the other if they rotate the device in their hands.

Scrivener understands (supports) the real world authors must navigate. If you’re only experience is writing in Microsoft Word, get ready for a mind expander!


If you know WYSIWYG, an abbreviation for What You See Is What You Get, you’ll remember that it promised to put the same thing on paper that you saw on the screen. That is, whatever your text looked like on the computer’s LCD, that’s what it’d look like on paper.

In the dawn of text processing, Apple was one of the first companies to make good on that promise. I used an Apple Lisa, and later the squatty little MacIntosh for my on-screen typing. I formatted text in Helvetica, Courier, and Palatino, bold-face and italic, big and small size text, and when I printed a hardcopy on paper, it looked the same as the screen version.

Back then, the only output device most of us had was a hardcopy printer, so the ink-on-paper output for what we wrote always went to that one device.

Times have changed.

Today, what I write may go to Facebook, cellphone text apps, MeWe posts, Trello cards, and all sorts of other places in addition to my laser printer. Many of these understand the usual basics of bold-face and italics, but each of those destinations makes it own set of decisions regarding fonts (Helvetica, Courier, Palatino, or hundreds of others), paragraph width, first line indentation, vertical line spacing, paragraph spacing, and dozens of other settings.

For those of us engaged in formal writing, be it text books or fiction, there are many other output choices, each of which will impose their own formats.

An e-book, for example, uses the font and text size chosen by the reader, by the human being holding the tablet or cell phone where they’re reading the words. The original author has no say, other than bold or italics, in how their words are displayed. Line breaks, where words end on one line and start appearing on the next, size of text, all these and dozens of others happen automatically, and may change at any moment if the user rotates the display from portrait to landscape orientation.

Paperback novels come in two industry-standard sizes, each of which accommodates a different size area for the words on each page. Hardcover novels use yet another size and shape area for text. Picture books use different layouts than comic books, and coffee table books go from tiny to gargantuan.

The person writing the text, in most cases, has no idea what the final output will be, so there’s no way WYSISYG can help.

Professional novelists may first see their finished work in a stack of hardcover books at a signing event. A year or two later, a paperback edition may be rolled out by the publisher. Authors following the electronic path may “print” e-books for Kindle, or in a different format for industry-standard readers, first one, then the other depending on their contract arrangements with Amazon.

WYSIWYG editing is a thing of the past. It still appears in outdated tools such as Microsoft Word and, yes I confess, I still use it or the equivalent tool on Mac or a similar one on Linux. For simple works, I want to see what the output is going to look like before I run that hardcopy for the mail.

But that’s a shrinking niche.

Today, you write your text according to the dictates or choices permitted by the software on your computer or in the web app you’re using. Formatting for a particular output, be it e-book or hardcopy book, comes later.

Authors hoping to see their work in print might choose the DIY approach and print their own paperbacks by a contract house—I’ve used lulu.com a couple of times and have been very pleased at the result. Or they might choose to submit the work to a book agent for consideration. Most agents want a PDF or Microsoft Word file, each of which has font and point-size settings.

Or, like I do long before publishing the entire work, they may choose to run a hardcopy of an individual scene to be critiqued at a local writers group. The group I attend prefers to see italics instead of the standard manuscript format’s underlined text (which my web page formatter doesn’t seem to support!), and Palatino (font) instead of Courier or Times New Roman.

A few professional writing tools understand today’s new environment. Scrivener, a software tool designed primarily for novel-length (big!) works, lets me do my day to day, on-screen work in a font and size that’s comfortable to the eye. I can then later “compile” what I’ve written to any of several different output formats. Accordingly, I have “compile formats” for manuscript submissions, writer’s group review, paperbacks in two different sizes, and several others. It’s a marvelous capability in Scrivener but with the wide range of outputs plus the ability to adapt or make new ones, this part of the tool can be intimidating.

If you are a Scrivener user, my advice is little bites. You may have bought the while pizza, but you don’t have to eat it in a single sitting.

Life versus Writing

You may know these adages.

  • It’s what you do, not what you say.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Seek and ye shall find.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
  • A thing begun is half done.
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Better to wear out than to rust out.

Fiction writers have a similar one.

  • Show, don’t tell.

It means the author should show the character doing things, and show his expressions and body movements when he reacts. The intent is to make the reader figure out what the character is thinking and feeling.

  • Telling: Mike is disappointed.
  • Showing: Mike frowned and his shoulders sank.

The first group of adages are the same. They’re about doing, not about talking about doing. It’s the action that counts. Missouri is the Show Me state. “Don’t tell me the motor works,” they might say. “Start it up.”

A lot of what we’re seeing in the news these days is “telling.”

  • Black Lives Matter.
  • Taxes favor the rich.
  • Deserving immigrants can’t get into the country fast enough.

These complaints are legitimate, but they’re all telling. They tell us there is a problem.

Well, duh, I know that. My next door neighbor knows that. Most everyone up and down the street knows these are problems.

But just saying “stop discriminating” doesn’t solve the problem. It states what the world will look like after the problem has been solved, but it’s not the solution. It’s the result of the solution.

There may be many ways to solve some problems. Others may have only one solution that will work.

So, what is a solution that works?

There’s only one way to know: Do it.

  • Show me a black life that now matters and why.
  • Show me the changed tax structure that is more equitable.
  • Show me what changed that makes immigration better.

Then, I’m interested in what you’ve got. Then, you’ll get my attention.

Show me, don’t tell me.

A Man

Several decades ago, my employer moved us and several other families from Memphis to Phoenix.

Arizona was, and still is, a very different place. It’s been a state since only 1912, just barely a hundred years, and while you won’t see cowboys riding horses in the downtown area anymore, you will find most of the California fast food restaurants in great abundance, none from the mid-south, and only a couple from the upper mid-west. And people still prospect for gold here, have gigantic Saguaro cactus plants in their yards, and pay as much for water as they do for electricity when the temperature exceeds 115 degrees. More to the point, Arizona has a much richer, much wider ethnic diversity; there are people here from all over the world.

Within a year of the move, in our small work group of about eight families, a couple of them announced they were moving back to Memphis. One of them, a man with whom I’d worked closely and had grown to respect his technical prowess on complex computer issues, had a large number of relatives back in Memphis. Fearing he too would be leaving, I asked what he planned to do.

“Back in Memphis,” he said after a pause, “I was a black man. Here in Phoenix, I’m a man.”

Thirty years later, our lives have diverged many times over. My home is a different house at a different address but still in Phoenix. And, with extreme rarity, I still run into him at the local electronics store. He stayed, too.

Today, as I listen to the news of riots taking place around the country, I am saddened we still have black men and white men, red men, yellow, brown, and all the other hues of men instead of just plain old, two-legged creatures hobbling along as best as we can through the briar patch of life.

“That hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. God made us both.”

Ponca Chief Standing Bear, 1879.

The Problem with Social Media

With today’s “social media,” opinions and frustrations pull some people together while pushing others away. The net effect is a greater polarization of society, not less.

Facebook, Twitter, and the like divide us; because of our human nature, they foster factions and dissonance, not union and compromise.

Social media has also changed the mechanics of Free Speech and, thereby, its effect upon your neighbors, and even who those “neighbors” are. It used to be you had to carry a soap box to a crowded location where you could then pontificate to whatever crowd might gather. In practice, you might draw a few dozen listeners. Depending on your abilities at oration and persuasion, you might gain nods of approval from some, arguments from others, but most likely silence from the majority.

But with social media, you no longer need to find a public space, gather listeners, and then put yourself “up there” for all to criticize. Today with social media, anyone can login through the free computer at the public library or in the common room at the prison and, more or less anonymously, spout vitriol and promote stratification to groups including “public,” “friends,” or just to specific individuals.

And also unlike speaking in public, propagating your words outward to people outside of the immediate audience is much, much easier. You don’t need to convince others to stand up in public and repeat your words. With social media, a simple click of the mouse does it.

As such, social media makes it easier for our finely-nuanced differences to spread and, each in its turn, draw a fractious set of followers. Instead of a few outspoken orators bending the tide of history, social media lets every Tom, Dick, and Harriett carry our thoughts in hundreds of directions.

Rather than coalescing to a small number of tolerable ideas, we break up into tiny, some would say, extreme factions.

According to an article requiring a login to read at the Wall Street Journal, Facebook executives have known of this effect since it was pointed out to them in 2018.

For non-subscribers, The Verge reports on the WSJ article saying, “An internal Facebook report presented to executives in 2018 found that the company was well aware that its product, specifically its recommendation engine, stoked divisiveness and polarization …”

The analysis goes on to describe one Facebook executive and the changes he has driven to counteract this effect. But the article also notes that his purpose was to retain subscribers in the conservative camp thereby preventing the loss of subscribers. There was no egalitarian purpose other than bolstering the business.

Some have claimed that social media provides the mechanism to let us “come together.” In fact, however, Facebook’s research proves the opposite. It divides and alienates us from each other.

Perhaps there’s something to be said for lugging your own soapbox into the public square rather than having millions of them set up and primed for the click of a mouse.

Tension and Growth

Somebody, somewhere must’ve said, “Life is Growth.”

While we’re alive, we experience change and we learn from it. In the beginning, we start small and grow bigger, learn how to walk, say “Mama,” and run without hitting walls.

Why? Because we see others, our parents, doing it and we want to do the same.

That wanting is tension. We feel a desire to do something, to achieve, to change.

So, we make an attempt. We fail or we succeed. Either way, we experience growth. We discover what will or won’t work. We understand, better than we used to, how the world works.

Story telling, even a simple nursery rhyme, often incorporates this same cycle.

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Tension: They wanted a pail full of water.

Growth: They tried to climb the hill but failed. In fact, it sounds like Jack is dead. No doubt, Jill has learned a valuable lesson: the hill is a lot more dangerous than she imagined!

Jill’s reality, her concept of the world, changes. And in most stories, her concept, her “World View” will become more complex, more comprehensive.

Basic Story Structure

Here’s a graph of what Jill experienced. Let’s call this an Action Cycle.

In Jill’s Action Cycle, her “World View” begins on the left. She believes things work a certain way.

An “Event” happens: Jill realizes her bucket is empty. She doesn’t like that. She feels a tension because she wants to have it full of water. Jill decides to try and fill it from the well at the top of a hill and thinks, “Jack and I can climb that hill and fill our pail.” (Her current “World View” includes the belief that she can do that with Jack’s help.)

So she batts her eye lashes, flounces her curly locks, and smiles at Jack. Jack succumbs to the rush of hormones, takes Jill’s hand, and—the fool!—”Tries” to climb the mountain.

In this nursery rhyme, they “Fail,” and Jack gets the worst of it. While Jill doesn’t end up with her pail full with water, she does learn something. She now has a “New World View” that climbing hills takes more than a cute guy and hand-holding.

Structure of Novels

A novel is a bigger story. In a novel, Jill would attempt the hill again. But this time, she might use a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance control arms front and rear.

The protagonist, that’s the main character, starts with a set of beliefs. Something happens and he (or she) is forced to adapt. In so doing, he experiences the first hump and, succeed or fail, he learns a lesson. He now has a (slightly) more comprehensive view of the world.

Then, he tries again and, succeed or fail, he learns another lesson. His view of the world becomes more complex.

In our nursery rhyme, Jill attacks the hill in her $50,000 ATV. She gets much closer to the top but, at the last minute, the boulder she’s almost over shifts beneath her vehicle and tumbles away. Her ATV slams down, bounds over sideways and, roped and bound inside the roll cage, Jill tumbles with the vehicle down the hill and, at the bottom, plunges upside down into the lake.

But, there’s more to come so, somehow, Jill finds the knife in her pocket, cuts the webbing of the safety harness, and swims to the surface gasping for breath.

The protagonist, educated by the school of hard knocks, tries one more time.

Jill eschews boyfriends and vehicles alike. She’s gonna do it “on my own.” She max’s out her VISA card at the neighborhood outfitters store and, dressed in a sleeveless t-shirt, fluorescent green shorts, and hands caked with climbing chalk, she free climbs the North Face. There’s a slip near the top and she’s dangling by a mere two fingers, but kicks her muscle-rippling legs just right to get three, then four fingers onto the tiny ledge before pulling herself up with one arm and getting two hands onto the rock. And a single heave takes her up and over the protrusion.

She’s on the top! After catching her breath, she fills the bucket and skips down the other side. (That’s called the denouement. It’s the final, final New World View in Jill’s story.)

Three Act Format

In the world of fiction, these three humps are often presented in a Three Act format. The big story is divided into three parts, Act I, Act II, and Act III, in such a way to keep you coming back to see what happens next. And, over thousands of years, the following formula has been found to pique our interest and elicit dollars from our wallets.

Act I: We meet the main character, the protagonist, and see his normal world. Then, something happens. According to the character’s belief system, he (or she) reacts and attempts some response, some action, to deal with the event. It is important to note that, in this first cycle, the protagonist does a knee-jerk reaction. There’s no thinking. “Aha, A has happened so I need to do B.” Cut and dried. No thinking.

And, in Act I, that attempt always fails. Guaranteed! The character is shocked; the world does not work like he/she thought, and—Oh Crap!—the curtain drops. End of Act I.

Audience reaction is “What’s he gonna do?” In a stage play, they murmur with the person in the next seat and anxiously await the rise of the curtain for the next act. In a novel, the reader turns the page to see what comes next.

Act II: The main character knows the world doesn’t work like it used to. They’ve learned something. And since the previous attempt failed, they still need to rectify or do something about what happened back in Act I. So, they get creative and come up with something new to try. Unlike Act I, however, we get to see not only what the protagonist attempts, and whether or not he succeeds—he usually doesn’t—but then we also see the character’s realization that’s often expressed as, “Gee, this is gonna be harder than I thought.” In other words, the character grows a second time.

At the end of Act II, we—the audience of the play or reader of the novel—get a glimpse of the biggest obstacle facing the main character.

Curtain drop. House lights up. Hurry to beat the line at the bathroom and, “I’ll meet you in the Green Room.” Then, espresso or alcoholic libation in hand, “Pretty good, so far. What do you think is gonna happen?” House lights blink, drink up, scurry back to our seats. House lights fade, murmuring in the audience dissipates, and the curtain rises.

Act III: This is it, the biggee! The main character begins his final assault and, do or die, this is it. The ascent to the climax—the third (or higher) Try in the story—requires the most effort, threatens death to the protagonist and everything he/she cares about, and typically entails a very low probability of success.

If the story is a trajedy, the protagonist fails. He/she dies along with all the good people in the world. The baddies win. (And there’s gonna be a sequel wherein we learn the main character wasn’t really killed, or Dr. Kildaire brought him back to life, or Mr. Jordan arrives from Saint Christopher’s office, says “There’s been a small mistake,” and finds our protagonist a new body to inhabit for the rest of his/her divinely-planned life.!)

If it’s a happy story, then the protagonist succeeds and we stand to applaud the cast, hold hands on the way out to the parking lot, and drive home singing the chorus from the final number.

A good work of fiction will have these three humps.

Multiple Story Lines

A better work will have more, and not just more humps. It may have multiple story lines each with their own set of roller-coasters.

In the very best fiction, the author will include more story lines. And they’ll make sure they overlap in such a way that as one story line struggles toward the summit, the other will plummet off a cliff.

Romantic relationships are common for additional story lines. (Story lines are also referred to as Arcs: Story Arcs, Character Arcs, Romantic Arcs.) The author will place the growth cycles of each Arc so it is out of phase with other Arcs. That is, when the action drops to some New World View, the romance will have heated up and somebody’s gotta do something.

Even so, these additional cycle(s) have the same elements, the same shape and inflection points as above. They have Events: “Will he kiss me?” or “My period is late.” These cause the character(s) to Try for a solution. And at the end of each attempt (Try), there will be a romantic climax (!). The character(s) will, through the experience, developed a new, more comprehensive New World View: “He loves me,” or perhaps, “It’s not yours.”

Entertainment includes these same four basic elements of Event, Try, Success/Fail, and New World View. Each time through the mill, “Reality” is raised; it becomes more and more comprehensive.

Music uses this same structure. Composers use words such as “tension” and “release.” They “develop” the melody over time. Simple songs called Ballads always have a story. (Many songs, however, are simply about a feeling. In these, there’s no growth. We are invited to share the poet’s self-pity, ecstasy, or fixation on that brown-eyed girl.)

Stage plays are built this way: there’s a problem; the main character tries to solve it (and fails); and he/she tries again and again until the final climax.

And so are stories, from nursery rhymes to short stories, chapter books, novels, movies, and movie sequels.

Tension, Try, and Grow.

Footnote: It’s worth adding that, with each experience, characters may learn the wrong thing. Experience can lead us astray. Associating with the “wrong kinds of people” can be a bad thing. Prison movies where the main character “learns” all the wrong things often end with the character’s demise trying to put those bad lessons into practice.

Fifth Estate User’s Manual

The Fifth Estate includes social media, blogs, the internet in general, and all of us.

Estates One, Two, and Three

The first “three estates” describe the social hierarchy in medieval times. It consisted of

  1. the clergy,
  2. nobility, and
  3. commoners.

But the term has been re-applied many times, and not always to denote groups or classes.

  • England’s Parliamentary system has the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.
  • The United States Constitution has been said to embody a different three estate system with the President, the Legislature, and the Courts.
  • Pre-revolutionary France had clergy, nobility, and commoners.

The Fourth Estate

The fourth estate began with the Gutenberg press which made information available to the general populace at relatively low cost.

In today’s world, the fourth estate is more generally acknowledged as the press and news media and, key to differentiating them from the next (fifth) estate, traditional media has some sort of gatekeeper. The newspaper’s Chief Editor would decide what to include in tomorrow’s edition. Today’s high-volume book publishers–Penguin Random HouseHachetteHarperCollinsSimon & Schuster and Macmillan–employ teams of editors and marketers that pick and choose from thousands of submissions before bringing a book to print.

Numero Cinco, the Fifth Estate

The fifth estate–social media, blogs, the internet in general, and all of us–has no gatekeeper. You can start a blog, create a Twitter account, and speak your piece, whatever you want.

You may notice I’ve omitted Facebook from the fifth estate. While this social media provider started as a prime example of the fifth estate, today they filter–censor–content. I know several individuals that’ve been “locked up” (denied the ability to post) because of what they’ve attempted to post. Indications are this will increase. Whether human or algorithmic, Facebook has gatekeepers which places them in the fourth estate.

Using the Fifth Estate

It’s yours. Jump in.

Subject to hate speech and inciting-a-riot limitations, you can Tweet what you want. (Trump does. So can you.)

Start a free blog. If you don’t know where, Google “free blog providers.” Not sure which to choose? Try one and, if you don’t like it, move on. (I will venture a guess there are more dead and abandoned blogs than live ones. My flat5.net blog is less spry than it used to be but, like me, it ain’t dead yet.)

If you want to publish a book, you don’t have to use any of those big five listed above. Go the e-publish route: see Kindle and Amazon. But there are limitations–gatekeepers of a sort.

So, hawk your book on your own. Self-publish it, whether ink on paper or electronic, and then start getting the word out. Tweet it. Facebook it. Blog it. You’ll need a place to house the book but that could be on your computer at home. How do readers get a copy? Simple: Have them email a request to you–publish your email address–and send them a reply with the PDF (or Word, or plain text) attached.

The Future of the World

How this will play out over the next century is anyone’s guess. What’s happening with Facebook may be a harbinger of things to come for all the social media providers. And, at some point, the rules could change for everyone.

That’s already the situation–note present tense–in China. Beijing decides what goes on the Internet in that country and the Chinese social media giant, renren.com, is reported to be far more tightly controlled than our Facebook.

But until–if and when–that happens, the fifth estate is wide open.

Take the Fifth, and Use It

Do you dislike something the President has said or done? Are you convinced the House of Representatives is filled with idiots? Does Nancy Pelosi get your goat? Has your local newspaper defected to a single side of the political divide? Are you convinced CNN is the devil’s puppet?

Then take the fifth, and use it: the fifth estate. There’s no gatekeeper. (Of course, you’ll want to toe the line in certain areas. Libel, hate speech, and inciting a riot are illegal.)

Publish it yourself. Tweet it. Blog it. E-distribute it. Print your own and hand them out on the street corner. (I self-published an early edition of a novel. I used lulu.com for the printing and, with the color cover I designed myself, for a very small run of less than fifty copies, they cost me a little over four bucks each.)

Each estate has changed the world. Kings did it. The church did it. The masses did it. The printing press did it.

And now you can to.

So, what’s your beef?

Vintage 3″ Oscilloscope

Found this at auction for $15. No name plate and nothing to that effect inside.

It powers on and there’s a trace, but definitely needs help. If I can identify the make and model, I can they try to get a schematic. Depending on what’s gone, I may be able to “make it better.” But vacuum tubes are expensive and things like power transformers may be impossible to get. We’ll see.

Update: It looks like a variant of the US Navy OS-8/U Oscilloscope family from the 1950s. Mine appears to be an OS-8C/U model. (Here’s one of them on Ebay, manufactured by Jetronic.) It’s a general purpose instrument that’ll run on ground (60 Hz) as well as aircraft (400 Hz) power. There’s a case for them–I’ve got a feeler out but suspect the shipping is going to be more than I want to spend for what will become a shelf-display for most visitors.

Update #2: After several weeks, I abandoned this restoration. Some of the vacuum tubes needed to be replaced. That was expected. The show-stopper came after determining which electrolytic capacitors would also need to be replaced. They were difficult to reach and would cost more than the vacuum tubes. It would’ve been nice to see the little ‘scope sitting by the ham rig and showing a modulation envelope but, of well, I could buy a nice radio for the same cost. RIP, little fella.

Terrible Taco Teaser

Whose tacos are worse, Jack In The Box’s hope-there’s-no-one-blocking-the-crapper gut bombs, or the new-kid-on-the-block tacos from Burger King?

But first, can you guess which is which?

(Trust me. Neither vendor’s product comes across the counter like these!)

In my personal review, I’ll say that the tooth-busting, Bakelite-plastic shells of both are darn close and, even though the added spices might be a little different, the oil ladled into both has almost the same taste, and an identical dribble.

And checking the stats on their websites, the calories, cholesterol, sodium, carbs, and protein are neck and neck with each other, and probably also eyeball to eyeball and tendon to tendon.

Taco #1
Taco #2

The only distinguishing characteristic to my tongue are the spices which, in spite of their differences, are equally revolting.

Looking at the pictures and the stats above, did you guess correctly?

The single taco and horizontal nutrition information with yellow headings are from Burger King’s website whereas the two-taco special (picture) and white-on-red nutrition table is from Jack’s.

So, who is the winner?

Not my gut, that’s for sure.