A question about the 3.0 manual

Greetings! Since this is not really a post about a bug nor anything of the sort ('tis miscellanea!), my guess is this is the proper place to make my question. If I’ve misplaced the topic, move it to where it should belong with my sincerest apologies :blush:

I’m trying the RCs of 2.9 to get used to the new feel and preparing some templates and themes in advance for its full release. For instance, I’ve checked the manual that comes up after you press F1 and after studying it, I really liked the layout they used for that PDF. It says it was made in Scrivener, though not sure if on Windows version or Mac.

I was trying to replicate the layout of the pages, with its headers and such. Let’s say around page 8, there are some cool “note boxes” I tried to replicate but without any luck.

First I thought it was a plain 1-cell table but it isn’t. Then thought it was an inline annotation or footnote but the weren’t. They look like some sort of notes with a nice shading outline at the bottom-left that makes them to pop-out nicely in the document. They also appear in different colours and can receive text format.

I’m curious about how to make them because I would really like to use them in my project when I migrate it to the new version, which would imply a complete overhaul of my previous organizational system. Any ideas about how to manage to reproduce the same effect?

Another thing I was not able to completely replicate was the horizontal lines from the headers. It is not a Centered, Page Spanning nor Signature line (from the 3 choices in this RC). The closest I could get was to fill that line with underscores, and then tweaking the paragraph spacing from the Format menu to something like “Exactly + At 9”, but the line is too thin, perhaps because of the font type (not sure what font was used in the manual since everything I paste into the RC automatically converts to Sitka :question: ).

I’m interested too into replicating the keyboard buttons as they are shown in the manual (those encased inside red blocks shaped like the keys themselves, as seen here):

Reason is because they are ideal to make software manuals and written tutorials that require to press keys for different steps through them. More intuitive that way than typing words like “press left arrow + alt + shift”, isn’t it? :wink: I know they aren’t inline images because you can select the text inside the boxes.

My last few questions are, how do you really change the colour of a single page in a single document and how do you add a vertical “quote-like” line? Like shown here in the pages in between chapters of the manual:

I’m interested into adding “real quotes style” with those vertical lines, but so far I have no clue how to add this to the styles, nor how to imitate it using characters from the font family :confused:

I’m aware that perhaps after being created in Scrivener, some layout edition might have been done on a different software to create the PDF, but since I’m not sure where Scrivener starts and ends in the creation of this manual, I believe it doesn’t hurt to ask first! :smiley: I’m aware too about the fact that some of the things that I mentioned might be features for Mac only, and I’m ready to sulk alone in a corner because I can only use Windows :blush:

Also, kudos to the person/s that made such a well done PDF. I dig its layout a lot, hence the reason of this post :unamused:

– Best wishes

You can download the project used to build the manual here: literatureandlatte.com/lear … ser-guides

It’s created in Scrivener 3 on a Mac, with post-processing using Markdown and I believe LaTeX. To open the project in Windows, you’ll need to install the Scrivener 3 beta.


Firstly, thanks for the kind words! The design of the PDF was a labour of love, and so it’s always nice to hear when it gets noticed. (And I cannot take full credit, much of it must go to Donald Knuth’s TeX system, and the countless thousands of volunteers who have worked to refine this system since the late ’70s.)

The download link that Katherine provided will get you a copy of the Scrivener project itself, and you will quickly note that I don’t use Scrivener as a publishing tool, but rather a writing tool to generate the text that will be processed through software more dedicated toward that task. Scrivener’s simple text layout system simply cannot do many of the things you see in this PDF—but that’s not to say that in a broader sense, Scrivener as software cannot do these things, it just needs a little help, as you suspect.

While Scrivener could maybe do some of it, in theory, it would take a monumental exercise in using a hammer for a screwdriver to do so.

So yes, to answer that more specifically, where it starts is simple: with a new Blank project. Every word of it was written in Scrivener, and there is no single facet of the output PDF that I cannot control from the text editor or other organisational tools. I spend no time at all, after compiling, “finishing the job” myself.

Where the process ends, on the other side of things, is a bit blurry, and perhaps open to debate. Here’s the basic sequence:

  1. The Compiler generates a MultiMarkdown document. This is a form of Markdown (like you often see on forums, Github, blog comments and so on) that is geared toward authoring books. It has additional tools and conversion scripts, as well as syntax for things like glossaries and footnotes.
  2. Much of the particulars of how it compiles will be documented in the download, at the top of the binder (I have written a bit on the forum regarding the tip boxes themselves, though). Importantly, the penultimate output of what Scrivener creates looks quite unlike what you see in the editor, thanks to a wide variety of compile features.
  3. After a Markdown file is created on the disk, the next phase the compiler starts on is running through a custom script that does further text processing. Here is where we can tell the compiler to do things using full-scale programming languages, really the sky is the limit, but I use it fairly simply to clean things up where Replacements don’t reach, and so on.
  4. This script takes the next step of using MultiMarkdown to generate a .tex file, and runs a few additional processing tasks to finalise the document. At this point, it loads in my text editor, and I hit a shortcut to start the typesetting process.
  5. Once that is done, a PDF opens up and I’m ready to proof the changes.

So where does Scrivener end in that process? You could maybe say around step four, though technically if I really wanted to, I could add the typesetting steps to my script and have the end result of compiling be a PDF file rather than the intermediate .tex file. (I do like having that stage though, as I can make quick corrections to the .tex file without having to redo the long compile process.)

So in theory we could even go so far as to say that Scrivener could produce this PDF “all by itself”. Yes, it’s with the help of third-party conversion tools, but frankly that is not much of a caveat—if you compile a DOCX file you’ll be doing almost the same exact thing, only using an embedded third-party conversion engine called Aspose, that you may never even be consciously aware of since it is all automated for you. That’s what that second progress bar is for though. :slight_smile:

The details of how that works are in the download package, but from the project side of things it’s all pretty simple—it is in fact nothing more than a binder item title. In fact the output is so clean of formatting that this precise look is only applied at the very, very end of everything. Even the .tex file is entirely devoid of such details. All it has to say for the screenshot you posted is:

\chapter{Installation \& Upgrading} \label{installationupgrading}

Not even the number is in there. In my opinion this workflow is really the Scrivener ethos in extended form: don’t bother with formatting, just write and keep it simple. Let technology handle the formatting for you. Whether you use the compiler exclusively, or as a tool to produce the content that will be formatting, it’s all the same at the front of the process where you do the writing.

Did I spend a bunch of time creating the workflow? Yeah… maybe too much, because I’m a geek about this kind of stuff. :laughing: But at this point, three years later? I don’t even think about it. I know that if I create a new level 2 item in the Draft folder, it will be formatted correctly, have an automatically generated section ToC added after the page break, with each major section pointing back to it at the end, etc.

So yeah… here comes the bad news. :slight_smile: It is a lot better than it used to be, but at this time there are still a number of compiler issues that make compiling to the PDF you see pretty much not worth the trouble of attempting it. You’d be in for a few hours of fixing the output in a text editor.

It’s less that the Mac has more features, and more that there are a few bugs and issues here and there that cause widespread output problems that are hard to fix by hand. One example is as simple as an empty line being added between two others, where it shouldn’t be—that can be all it takes to break what is meant to be rigid syntax, and hundreds of pages break their formatting (in this case, the menu appendix and anywhere else you see that hanging indent glossary style, such as settings lists).

Small things, but, I suppose that in itself is the silver lining. We’re not talking about big things, like we certainly would be when comparing Scrivener 3 for Mac with Scrivener 1 for Windows. Small bugs and issues are much easier to fix (usually), and hopefully in short order we’ll be able to add instructions for setting up the compiler on Windows and getting a PDF out of this thing. :slight_smile:

In the meanwhile I’ll need to add a disclaimer to the text where it states it was “made in Scrivener”, if these issues cannot be resolved by launch.

Correct! Now that part you could do with just regular Scrivener. It’s a special “glyph” font that is open source and available from the Linux Libertine Project. It would be simple to add a style to handle the font change and any other formatting you wanted, and the project auto-complete list might help with typing in the stuff that uses special characters, like the Ctrl key. It’s a lot like working with WingDings, really—if you were to change the font you’d just see “F” instead of the “F” in a key shape.

As you’ll see in the manual though, I again follows that ethos of pushing output details to a later phase. The shortcut itself is just typed in like, “Ctrl+Shift+P”. It’s the compiler and post-compile conversion that turn that into what you see, and thus different compile settings could do something entirely different with the shortcuts. For example if I ever get time to create an ePub version, I’ll probably have to use something other than fonts to handle shortcuts, and will be glad I didn’t use the fonts up front in the content.

Huh, now that is a missing feature, looking at it. I think Keith did in fact add a horizontal line option to the Mac version, specifically so it could match this look. But it looks like they haven’t figured out how to do that yet for Windows. It’ll be a setting in the Page Settings compile format pane though, by the way, not something you type in anywhere.

There are design notes on the copyright page, if you’re interested in the details. We don’t have the necessary (and extremely expensive licences) to distribute the fonts unfortunately, but I did try to find some suitable system alternatives for the public copy. I’ll have to do that for Windows as well in time.

I suspect you get Sitka because your PDF reader is copying plain text (most do), so it’s like copying from Notepad at that point.

Well that was a very wordy post that probably all boils down to: learn LaTeX or give up! :laughing: But as I think I expressed in the help file of the downloadable project, it is my hope that even if the technology used to typeset the PDF (or the intermediary approach of using Markdown) isn’t your cup of tea, the techniques used to write the manual itself will still be of interest to those in non-fiction, documentation and technical writing. They at the least demonstrate some of the geekier edges of what Scrivener can do to make various tasks easier, no matter which compile output setting you use. While it may not natively have a way of drawing a margin box or whatever, it can systematise the processes that goes into ultimately doing that. And in the end, that is how most books with specialised formatting are made.

Wow, that’s… more than I imagined to receive as a reply :open_mouth: I apologize for the late response.

I see the limitations and the lengths of effort put post-compilation of the .scriv, but as you might have already suspected, I have the acumen of barnacle and I don’t have enough mental imperviousness to use LaTex or to stare at MultiMarkdown without feeling woozy :blush:

I use Scrivener mostly for storyboarding dialogues and their in-between narrative for visual novel style, and to organize in an encyclopaedic fashion all the lore and story of these projects, using it too for mapping the levels and the connections in between instances, so that it can be consulted while working on the projects done in UE4. That’s the only reason I don’t really use it to compile for real-life printing or to create PDF manuals since the manual and tutorials are already built-in the project when the user loads up the first map instance of the level. That’s why Scrivener’s compilation system sounds like alien language to me :blush:

Though… perhaps I’m going to need to learn how to use it if I plan to write those short side-stories of the characters in e-book format? I’m not sure about the process for that, but surely there is a tutorial about “How to prepare Scrivener for e-book output” or something along those lines :slight_smile:

Anyhow, I appreciate the time you took to explain me what went behind the scenes during the making of the manual. Already downloaded the .scriv file to pour over the layout and templates mostly. Also, I’m grateful you pointed me to the LinuxLibertine fonts-- I particularly dig Biolinum :laughing: Why it didn’t dawn to me to assign an auto-complete to change a word into another glyph font? :blush: I used it mostly to change Romanian characters that use the S-Comma and T-Comma for their respective Ș and Ț since I can only use a Spanish keyboard :frowning: I could even assign Chinese glyps this way or them WebDings or bring THE EMOJIS to my writing workflow :open_mouth: (instead of copy/pasting them all over the place).

Oh well, thanks for the tips and I wish you and your companions the best for completing and bringing the RC close to it’s final live form :smiley: I really can’t wait-- I love the new layout and the bookmark system. Waiting is painful :laughing:

You definitely do NOT need Markdown or LaTeX to prepare an e-book with Scrivener. As the formatting you want becomes more complex, though, you will find that other tools – be it LaTeX or Affinity Publisher – become more useful.