Automatic Indenting; Autosaving?

I wrote my first novel in Word, with all its attendant logistical problems of figuring out which draft I was working on, how to save different iterations of the chapters etc. I’m happy to be writing the second in Scrivener; I think it’ll be a lot easier. That said, it’s still a wee bit scary - trusting a year’s worth of your life to an unfamiliar product IS naturally a little worrying! I’m encouraged by the positivity here.

I’m still in the outline stage, but I have a couple of questions:

  1. Is there a way to turn off the auto-indent function? Each new paragraph is indented, which is, I think, a British thing. I’m British, but writing for an American audience.

  2. Every time I open my main Scrivener file, it very rapidly automatically saves itself with whatever the new time and date is. I work on my desktop and on my laptops, and I like having the Last Modified info for making sure I’m working on the most current file. I worry that the rapid saving of the file as new might confuse me when I’m juggling different versions on my desktop and laptops and thumb drive. Any advice would be gratefully received!!!


Jonathan Hayes


Scrivener is sturdy.

Go to the Preferences and click the Text Editing icon. You’ll note a small bar above the first tab stop, if you drag it to zero your auto-indent irritation will disappear. However, this will only apply to new writing you do.

Preferences/General Auto-save after ____. You can adjust this so your work is still being saved at an appropriate rhythm but not so fast that you’re confused when you first open the project. Other users, will, I’m sure have further suggestions about this.


To add to Dave’s first answer - although changing text settings will only affect new documents automatically, you can reformat existing documents by selecting them, and going Documents -> Convert -> Formatting to Default Text Style in the menu.

Also, remember that you can override the formatting of your documents to whatever you want when you Compile Draft. So it doesn’t actually matter whether you have indents, a narrow line height, or a wacky typeface in your draft documents. You can change it all when you export.

(I work in 16pt Georgia, with a 1.5x line height and indents, which would be a ridiculous format to submit in :smiley: But I change it all to 12pt Times, 2x line height when I export to Word.)

Just out of interest, I’m not sure the indenting thing is an Atlantic divide. I’ve read plenty of original mss from US authors that use indenting. Are you using double carriage returns, instead? That’s something I’ve only ever seen in journalism or web writing, myself.

As for the auto-save - I’m afraid there is no way to stop this happening at the moment. Someone else complained about this recently. The trouble is that because Scrivener uses a package format, there is always something that needs updating in there.
All the best,

Sorry about my delay in replying - it doesn’t reflect my genuine gratitude for your answers. Around the time you replied, I tried to reply back several times, but was unable to post for some reason.

In any case, I looked at a copy of my book, and indeed you’re right - the first line of every new paragraph is slightly indented. I just eased up on the indenting a little.

And I’ll just work around the Autosave by being sure to swap or replace files with a careful eye on the properties of the file before I try opening the file in Scrivener.

FWIW, the outline went well, including the export to Word; this week, I’ll start writing the novel full-on in Scrivener.

Thanks again,


I know this feeling, but you will see in almost no time that Scrivener is by far the most reliable application you have ever seen. I predict that in no longer than two months, you will hesitate to commit any important text to Word…

Understand that your Scrivener file is in fact a kind of hidden directory with a lots of files in it (with which you should not modify anything under any circumstances, this is all handled by Scrivener!). So, the “last modified” info is different for every item in the binder, because every item in the binder, be it a folder or a text, may result in up to three different separate files within that package “Scrivener file”.

What does that mean practically? That you simply move your Scrivener file from one computer to another, and the one with the last overall modified date is the newest. Period.

Although I personally would try to avoid all this file updating hazzle. Either I would try to carry my Scrivener file with me on an USB-stick, or I’d keep it on the principal computer and when working on a laptop, I would simply type raw drafts into TextEdit and copy and paste later what I’ve written into the Scrivener project (In fact, this is something I do from time to time and it’s no problem at all - in case there is a research problem, I just type CHECK THIS into the text and do the checking later, when “at home”. To separate the writing from the checking rather helps than hinders, BTW).

Also, Jonathan, you should check out the forum threads (there are several) in which people discuss their various methods for working on two or more computers, and how they ensure their Scriv projects are synched up/backed up/etc.

Some do it with Subversion, some do it manually, quite a few of us have started using Dropbox, and so on. The “save as backup” feature, with its auto-timestamp and auto-ZIP features, can be invaluable here.