Back to the Beginning, or "What is a Section"?

So I’ve decided to go back to Project Settings to see if that is where the gremlins are hiding.
I’m surprised to see that a “Section” in Scrivener is not a \section, to use LaTeX-speak.

So what is it?

What is a heading?

What is the equivalent of:
and even
\paragraph? (sometimes you need it)

How do I find these under “Assign Section Layouts”?

  1. You asked some of this question in another forum post you just made. Already answered.

  2. Section Types have no built in meaning. They are just labels. You give them a certain name based on what you mean to do with them (what sort of docs you will declare of that type). Section Typing is just a way to specify that certain of the docs and folders in your manuscript are all to be typeset in the same manner. What that manner is is determined by a) what Section Layouts you assign those types to in the Compile dialog, and b) what the typesetting/design specifications are for the relevant Section Layout.

  3. You seem to be running with the idea that Scrivener works like LaTeX. Yeah, it doesn’t. You can work IN LaTeX in Scrivener or IN Markdown in Scrivener, but Scrivener’s facilities themselves are not a parallel for either. (Nonetheless I have sketched answers to how you might use compile to do some of the things – in that other post where you asked about this already.)

1 Like

First of all, thanks.

It would be a plus were it possible to write in text in Scrivener–would eliminate all sorts of gremlins, but I guess Mr. Keith isn’t interested.
Scrivener best practices indicate that it’s best not to use Styles, which seem to have no relationship whatsoever to Compile.
Also, the only reason why I compare Scrivener to LaTeX is to point out that in LaTeX you never ask, as pilots did on early Airbuses, “what is it doing now?” In Scrivener, Compile is, to a certain extent, a black box with commands scattered all over the place.
And no checklist.
Then there’s this:

How do these “sections” fit into the Scrivener universe?

It is possible, of course.

Not true. (But a Body style is a bad idea.)

Not true again.

They’re logically laid out; you just haven’t learned the logic. I could explain it in a Zoom session, but you’ve resisted doing anything like that.

Huh? And if that is a typo and you meant to refer to working in sonething like (La)TeX/Markdown, then you are off the scent, because, as I said, you can work in those ways in Scriv and there are built in Compile facilities for facilitating this.

Those section types you see are being automatically assigned based on the Binder hierarchy. The types listed are greyed out to indicate that you did not apply these types manually. You can go into the central pane of Compile and specify for each of these automatically applied Types what Section Layout to associate with them.

This is another question that would be answered by watching L&L’s user-friendly compile videos. (Not to mention some relevant section of the manual. Or one or the other of several books you can get on using Scrivener.)

Asking folks on the forum to write custom explanations & directions for you is fine up to a certain point, but you need to do your due diligence before you make extensive use of others’ time. Some of your recent spate of posts cause me to doubt this is happening.


A section is an item in the Scrivener Binder. A title is the title of such an item.

Section Types, whether assigned by structure or manually, are just labels. They have no semantic meaning, in Scrivener or anywhere else.

You can give them meaning, by using Section Layouts to assign Styles or LaTeX commands. But that’s entirely your decision. If you want to assign LaTeX commands specifically, you probably want to read all of Chapter 21 in the manual, plus Sections 24.12 and 24.14. Plus you should already have a good grasp of LaTeX.

I completely agree. It’d be nice say… if we could use it to write novels, for e.g.


Because Scrivener uses the underlying Mac writing engine, it is impossible to turn that off and write in purely plain text, like an IDE. Technical terms are marked as spelling errors, e.g. “counterparty,” unwanted suggestions are made, etc.

I’m using LaTeX in this discussion as an example.

What about the headings here? How would you achieve this? And where?

I guess that the problem arises when each folder in the binder represents a separate volume. If sections/chunks relate to Binder hierarchy, I don’t know how it would treat separate books within the project.

As to the criticism, I spent a day trying to get the project to Compile properly. I went back and pulled formats out of the 300 or so projects I have worked on and tried Compiling with those–did you know you can’t rename them after import?-and after five or six tries failed to produce results–uncommanded underlined text, inconsistent font sizes–then and only then did I turn to the forum.

Then I thought that perhaps I suffer from a fundamental misapprehension and tried to go back to basics, which occasioned at least one additional thread.

See my response to your other post:

Please try to avoid asking the same questions in multiple places.

You might find this post helpful, which I wrote to assist someone with similar difficulties:

There’s also a demonstration project in the same thread that doesn’t do exactly what you want but is a very simple illustration of using Section Layouts to assign formatting:

There are also some other detailed explanatory posts, by both @AmberV and myself. These may or may not be useful, since they were written to address this user’s specific concerns, but they do have quite a bit of information about how to think about Compile.

1 Like

Interesting. I never saw the sub-heading styles in “Assign Section Types.” I’ll have to clean my glasses. Or visit the optometrist.

Not all Compile Formats have them. There’s also a setting to hide unused Layouts.

To use the Compile command effectively, though, it’s essential to understand that the supplied Formats are just a starting point. If a Layout with particular specifications doesn’t exist, it’s easy enough to create it.