Best Practices (Is this right?)

1- I now use “No Style” as my main default or body style. In this way all the options on the Format Bar work as expected.

2- When special formatting is needed, Styles are used. And since Format Bar options made to defined Styles don’t show up on the printed output; when one need to Bold a pre-existing Style; that Bold attribute must be defined as a separate Character Style.

3- Unlike defined Styles, which can be redefined universally throughout the document with the Format => Style => Redefine Style From Selected Text, the default “No Style” cannot be redefined universally. In which case, it is important when setting up a new Project to use the Project => Project Settings = Formatting to initially set up your preferred format for the “No Style” Style.
4- And since the Formatting options of this pop-up is limited, to get the most flexibility in defining your preferred “No Style” Style, click on the, “Use different formatting for new documents” checkbox. Then the “Use Current” button will copy the currently selected Style as the default “No Style” Style.

I hope I got all this right. Probably not. Let me know what I need to do differently.

3 –


When special formatting is needed, Styles are used. And since Format Bar options made to defined Styles don’t show up on the printed output; when one need to Bold a pre-existing Style; that Bold attribute must be defined as a separate Character Style.

In the framework of best practices, yes that is what I would advocate. Using the tools to change the way text looks is how you make styles, but just changing the way text looks all by itself doesn’t say anything about what you’re marking.

That said, it’s a choice to work that way. Some just think changing the font variant to italic is good enough, rather than saying it is a foreign language phrase with a style, or an inner thought, or something being emphasised. Maybe those three things are useful to have to be marked differently even if they all look the same, conventionally.

You seem to be phrasing this as though that is the only way to use Scrivener though, which isn’t accurate. Feel free to just make text look like it is marked up, if that’s fine with you.

Unlike defined Styles, which can be redefined universally throughout the document with the Format => Style => Redefine Style From Selected Text, the default “No Style” cannot be redefined universally. In which case, it is important when setting up a new Project to use the Project => Project Settings = Formatting to initially set up your preferred format for the “No Style” Style.

There is in fact a way to update your unstyled text with the current formatting default, via the Documents ▸ Convert ▸ Text to Default Formatting... menu command.

And plus, this is how the compiler can easily clean up your text to a uniform look. So really, in the end “no style” text acts quite a bit as though it were styled. We made it that way so that people don’t have to learn how to use styles in Scrivener, because again, this is all a choice.

Best practices though? Yes, I would say so, and some fields it will be a necessity, so it isn’t a bad set of tools to learn and make habitual.

@townsend This is an excellent summary.

Some feedback on point #3 -

There are two methods of setting the formatting for “No Style”:

  • For a specific project, via Project > Project Settings > Formatting. This is what you describe above.
  • Globally, for all projects, via File > Options > Editing > Formatting.

This is incorrect. If you change “No style” formatting using either of the methods above, you can reformat existing documents to the new “No style” by selecting them and applying Documents > Convert > Text to Default Formatting.

I don’t use styles, so I’ll let others address your other points.


Styles will only “ditch” the character attributes if they are set to save all formatting. (Not just “paragraph style”.)

This being said, where bold obeys this rule, for some reason italic seems to work no matter what. One of them malfunctioning. (Bold, probably.)

So yes, a good failproof solution is to have your styles save only the paragraph’s formatting, and/or use character attribute styles for stuff like bold, underline, italic, etc. (Although I don’t think that one should have to.)

@townsend, what Vincent_Vincent says here is something that a lot of people have missed in the past: that when you define a paragraph style, lets say Block Quote, click the up-down arrows next to next to Save all formatting and choose “Save paragraph style”, making sure that “Include font family” and “Include font size” remain unticked.

That way, any italics, bold etc. will be preserved on compile.

I think when you come to Scrivener from a traditional word processor, you assume you must define font and size for all paragraphs. In Scrivener, for the vast number of cases, that comes from the default set in Preferences/Options, i.e. the “No Style” setting.

For me, I do have heading styles defined using “Save all formatting”, for historical reasons way back to the transition from Scrivener 1/2 to 3. I no longer use any heading styles in the editor… they are applied at compile time based on the structure and section layouts. In essence, I have three paragraph styles and one character style (Chinese) which I use within my texts.



I’m getting a real education here. Let me summarize what I’ve learned, (in case any other new users happen upon this thread in the future.)

5- The default “No Style” CAN be redefined universally via: Document => Convert => Text to Default Formatting. This is the convert menu.

6- The BEST thing about v3 is how Styles can be universally updated. But in this regard, something very important can easy missed:

Nonetheless, my tests tell me getting various Styles to show up correctly in multiple print formats is challenging and requires a lot of testing.

7- Conclusion This is all good go know, but I think I’m going to follow Jim’s lead.

Now that I know that the default “No Style” Style can be universally changed, I’ve found that: Bold, Italic, Underline, Highlight and List options on the Format Bar all follow through and show up correctly on PDF, Epub3, and RTF print formats. So, at least for the time being, I don’t see any need to use Styles Panel Styles.

Thanks everyone for chipping in here!
As always, you comments and screen prints are greatly appreciated.


Styles are to be used only for text segment that you wish be formatted differently than the default formatting.
Else, don’t use them. (They are not intended for general formatting. → Using them all over the place would make some of the compile format’s powerful reformatting functions unusable to you.) In other words: you’d forfeit most (or the least a lot) of Scrivener’s compile versatility.

That’s good advise for any new user!

PS: I just discovered that Deleting a Style, renders that Style as “No Style” without affecting any of the previously defined Style’s formatting. That’s a pleasant surprise. This means I don’t have to go through the entire document re-formatting everything all over again.

That’s gonna be a problem…
Why would you have had to reformat ?
A – (Bits of text) Because you wanted those bits formatted like that ? You’ll lose formatting at compile (unless you compile as-is). This would exactly be the case where you’d want to use styles.
B – (All over the text) Well, you’ll still lose formatting at compile.
Make it a style again but don’t use it. You’ll later be able to set the compile format’s formatting by it.

(If you want that formatting everywhere) → For the rest, in the immediate, best practice would be to set your default formatting by one of those already formatted paragraphs. (Else, any new paragraph won’t match your previous formatting.)
Select a paragraph that is formatted to your liking, and:



(If the checkbox I circled is ticked, screenshot one (options) will have no effect. Go to your project settings and see where your project’s default formatting comes from. Settings or options.)

Then select all of your documents and use Documents / Convert / Text to default formatting like mentioned a few post back.

I think you’ve done a really good job here!

One minor addition which may be useful, if you don’t already know:

Say you have used ordinary formatting (i.e. not styles) for a type of formatting. You can select one example of that formatting, and using the Style Panel, select “Select similar formatting” from the menu.

You can then click on an existing style (or create a new one) and it will apply it to that format throughout the selected document.

(Unfortunately, for Windows, this will apply only to the current document, so you’ll have to repeat it. The Mac version allows you to do it to every selected document in one go. This is a limitation of the programming toolkit on Windows, apparently.)

This is really useful, for example, when you import a document which has headings in different combinations of font size and bold etc. You can move them all to Heading 1 etc in a couple of keystrokes.


Thanks again for all your help here! Once again, Scrivener excels in flexibility! This turned out to be a great compromise for me.

I like the flexibility of using the “No Style” Style option. But then I miss the quickness of applying a predefined Style. So I’ve come up with a solution. 1- Under the Research folder, I’ve created a document called, Styles, which includes sample sentences rendered in different Styles. 2- Then when I want to apply one of these sample Styles to a paragraph, (without locking in an actual Style to that paragraph), I use the Copy Formatting option on the Format Bar, 3- then paste that Style into my document text, where needed.

Is there an upside to this approach? It sounds (to me) both more laborious and prone to failure.

I’m with @November_Sierra here. I regret to say that you are (or really seem to be) going about it the wrong way.
Make your default formatting be somewhat what you want the major part of your text be formatted like. (You’ll be able to change it as much as you want at compile.)
Use styles for whatever paragraphs are intended to be formatted different. (That’s all there is to it.)

At the moment, you are applying to your paragraphs a formatting that will be lost at compile.
(It will not stick. You are wasting your time. – Else, you are painting yourself in a corner, forcing yourself to ultimately compile as-is.)

1 Like

Great point! Most of my test Compiles look fine, (retaining all “No Style” formatting). This is probably so because the default compile is… Compile-As-Is. Are you saying, if I decided to use one pre-defined Style, for say a List, I’d suddenly loose all my other “No Style” formatting?

Or maybe there is a Compile-As-Is switch that I am yet unaware of.

There is one in the compile panel (the one I was referring to), and also one in the editor itself.
But at this stage, going in the topic would in my opinion only make matters uselessly more complex.
I’d say the best thing for you to do here, is to trust us on it. (We don’t send circling fellow users for fun.)
Use default formatting and styles the way you’ve been told through this thread.
Keep the other bridges for later.

Or, dive right in the compile functions with a dummy project. Explore (read the manual) and learn what can be done, and therefor why is what. And then go back to your actual project, better knowing.
One or the other. But not half one, half the other.

What is going to be lost (formatting-wise) is whatever is “no style” but that still you formatted on top.
A style will preserve its formatting.
Everything is modifiable at compile. But no style is no style. If you formatted a few “no style” paragraphs so that they look different (without using styles to do so) that new overlay formatting will be absorbed (eradicated) by the compile settings.
“No style” paragraphs will come out the way you told the compiler you wanted them. Therefor replacing all and any formatting that was previously applied to your paragraphs. (I’m talking indents etc here. Not italics or bold.).Including the paragraphs you invested time on formatting different. Because they’re all “no style”, they’ll all come out the same.

I just ran a test. My one List paragraph, after I defined it as a Style looked fine, and my all my other “No Style” formatting remained.

Obviously, I have yet to grasp the many intricacies of Compiling to different formats. So… YES. I will take your advice. And… I will spend some time reading the manual. One last question. Where are these Compile-As-Is switches you speak of?

@Vincent_Vincent Thank you! I appreciate your patience here, guiding me on this little odyssey.


I answered your question. On the other hand, I will not encourage you to pursue in that direction.

The reason is simple:
Say you like Arial. That font, arial, is to you the best font ever!
Since you like arial so much, you drafted your awesome novel using it. All the while formatting a few paragraphs differently than your “no style” body text.
Now, you randomly meet an agent. You talk, he’s into reading your novel.
He wants a copy of your draft. Printed, now, his plane leaves in a few hours.
Problem though: not only does he want it Times new roman, he insists on a bunch of formatting specifications. What do you do? (Beside telling him to * with his damn specs. Arial rules!)
You do nothing, the train leaves without you onboard, there is no way you’ll reformat a whole novel in such a short time, right?
. . . . . . . . . .

(Of course, that is just a top of my head example (and not a very good one either). But the point is that: doing things the way Scrivener is designed to handle them would have made the above situation no problem at all. Could be done within an hour – printing time not included.)

Relying on compile “as-is” or Preserve Formatting greatly locks you into an unadaptive format. (You’d be kind of using Scrivener as a Wysiwyg software (which it is not), without any of the few advantages one might have.)

Exactly. The whole point of the Compile command is to allow you to reformat the entire manuscript as needed without having to change anything in the Editor.

1 Like