Can't Get Scrivener to Compile PDF properly

I’ve spent hours trying to get 3.1 for Windows to format properly a standalone short story as a PDF. The project is composed mostly of scenes in the form of text files. These files all join together as one long string of text separated by three asterisks to mark the scene changes. I have three text files that need to be kept separate from the main body of text. One that contains the front cover image. One that contains the copyright info. And one that contains the story notes. No matter how I configure things in compile I always end up with either a PDF where everything is treated as run-on text, so that, for example, part of the copyright info appears on the same page as the cover image, or a PDF where every scene is separated by a new page rather than just the cover, copyright, and notes. The latter happened as a result of my attempt to assign sections to those three items.

None of the tutorials I’ve read or watched has been able to help me out of this mess. Clearly, I’ve made a fundamental boo-boo somewhere or other, but being a newbie to the compile process, I wouldn’t have a clue what it is.

Have you gone thru the Scrivener Tutorial?


I wish Scrivener had a what you see is what you get option, so that how it looked on the page is how it would compile. Alas, the as-is option doesn’t seem to do that. Not in my case.

I may have to scrap all of the changes I made and start again. Is there a restore compile to default settings option somewhere?

You shouldn’t need to restore anything. In order to make advanced changes to Compile, you have to duplicate and edit a format, so you never actually change the baked-in formats. If you want to reset your project itself (such as section type assignments), you would need to revert back to one of your backups or manually reset those.

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It sounds like you haven’t gotten your section types/section layouts set quite right yet. You’ll need to have your scenes set to a section layout with a single return separator instead of a page break separator.

Hi TheContentBloke. You said “I wish Scrivener had a what you see is what you get option, so that how it looked on the page is how it would compile”

You may know parts or all of this, and it may be arguable what approach would be best. As I see it though, that would be really difficult for a few reasons. First, compiling will yield many DIFFERENT outputs depending on the target of the compile. (This allows you to have a specific output for anyone to receive a copy.) Second, EVEN if you had a “selected output” the rendering (getting all things in the right place/style for the finished compile) is really complex and would be a major change to do it real-time vs at what we might call compile time. Also, many writers prefer their own format for writing (and separate formats for different audiences). These thoughts may impact the degree to which this is seen as a priority. Yet, I could understand how it would be nice.

what would be great if people demonstrated a specific file from scrivener with front matter, back matter, Chapters 2-3 with scene with titles and toc. People could download the sample file and create custom file formats and could group under pdf, ebook, word etc. the file format would be with its sample. People could download and inspect or brief preview of what looks like would be viewable if click file and open in another window. This way you could see what people come up with and if works for you import and use on your project and not have to necessarily go thru every setting yourself to get the effect you want. This would be a shared library with people understanding that not certified by scrivener. This type of exchange could overcome compile fear.

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I thought I’d post screenshots of some of my compile settings. Maybe that will help one of the more knowledgeable Scrivener users pinpoint where I’ve gone horribly wrong.

Finally, finally I got the PDF almost exactly the way I want it. I did this by using the Manuscript (Times) format and tweaking it here and there. Just one small issue remains. Three asterisks appear at the very end of the PDF. I originally had three asterisks separating all of the scenes but replaced them with empty lines. However, this trio of asterisks refuses to go away. Any suggestions how to get rid of them?

Many thanks!

EDIT: Found the setting responsible under “Empty Lines Across Page Breaks” in Text Layout.