Chapter Numbers Functional and Decorative

I’m trying to set up a novel for completion in Scrivener that was about 75 percent complete, written in Apple’s Pages. I have successfully gotten it into the novel template, with folders for each existing chapter, and one document for each chapter inside each folder. There are no separate “scenes” within chapters.

Each chapter has a title. Each chapter stylistically is meant to have, on output, a Roman numeral for a chapter number (without the word “Chapter”), followed on a separate line by the chapter title.

Right now I have the chapter folders named only with the chapter titles. Here are several issues I’m encountering that I can’t find a solution for in manual or forum:

  1. For functionality in writing and possibly doing some substantive editing to the existing material, I want to put Arabic numerals at the beginning of each folder name showing the existing chapter sequence, but I’ve gotten the idea from forum posts that that can pose a real problem when compiling. Is there any way to work around this problem?

  2. The only mention I can find in the manual about Roman numerals is a code for making page numbers Roman numerals, uppercase or lowercase. I want uppercase Roman numerals for the chapter numbers, each on its own line when compiling, followed by the chapter name, also on its own line. Is there any way to do this with the setup for compiling—with or without the “functional” chapter numbering of folders in No. 1 above?

  3. I have one chapter title that is long, and when I try to name the folder for that chapter with it, Scrivener truncates the title. The title is “In Which the Colonel Gets a Call and I Find My Calling,” but Scrivener cuts it off after “Call.” Why, and what can I do about it?

Thanks for your time and attention.

First, I’m going to suggest something that you can of course ignore, but may make other aspects easier…
Dispense with the chapter folders. If your chapters are a single document each, just move them out of the folders so you have a series of chapter documents. The standard “novel” compile presets assume that you either have chapter folders with scene documents in them, or a series of chapter files.

1: I can’t think of anything that’s going to make it easy to see numbers in the binder without making you remove them manually when you’re done with the major edits. But why do you want the numbers? Is it so you can preserve the original order of your chapters? If so, consider making a new collection based on the current order of your documents. So long as you don’t empty your project’s trash folder, it will keep track of your chapters no matter where you move them.

2: Visit the menu Edit->Insert->Auto-Number. You can access it while modifying the compile window’s Section Layout window (in the Formatting section). The menu item will insert the code that will automatically number in the style of your choice.

3: Where is the truncation occurring? I just created a file with your title, and it didn’t truncate it (except that my binder isn’t wide enough to display that many letters).

For your numbering dilemma, I suggest the following:

  • go ahead and number the folders in the Binder with Arabic numerals.
  • when you compile, uncheck the ‘Title’ box for folders, so the folder title will not be included in the compiled output
  • each chapter begins with your Roman Numeral, paragraph, Chapter Title (formatted just as you want)
  • this chapter opening can be a separate text document or included in your chapter text.

I would second the notion that you dispense with the folders in the binder and just have the chapters as separate text documents directly within the main Draft folder. (You would then title the documents in the binder with the Arabic numerals, and uncheck the Text Title from your compile.) The only reason you might want to keep your current organizational strategy is if you have thoughts in future of splitting the chapter texts up into separate documents (like scenes for example) if you might want to move a scene from one chapter to another. (but you could still do that without folders.)

As for the long chapter title, including it within the text document (or using the chapter heading as its own text document) will solve whatever truncating issues you have. As far as this issue of truncating, I notice it happens to me when i let Scrivener auto-title a document (which the program does based on the first words of the document). Try clicking in the title area of the chapter folder (in the edit window) and pasting in the text you want, and see if you can’t get the full title to appear.

hope this helps.

  • asotir

Another misconception blown into twinkling dust; the Novel template unequivocally instructs use of folders for chapters: “Create a new folder for each chapter and title each folder with the name of the chapter.” That’s why after I had imported the MS and split it at chapters, I went to the time and trouble to create the folders and move the chapter documents into them. Now I suppose I’ll reverse the process.

For editorial reasons peculiar to the structure of this MS, the explanation of which could not possibly have any bearing on the answer to my question about a practical way to utilize them in the binder without having them “print” on compile.

Thanks. So far this suggestion is a bit opaque to me, and the manual hasn’t shed any clear light on use of the “Auto-Number” function, but I will keep at it in the Compile module and see if I can figure out where you mean to put the code.

I had already checked the binder width issue before posting. As it turns out, this was user error; I copied and pasted the chapter title to the folder from the MS page, not noticing that it contained a hard return (paragraph) code, and having no idea that the folder name fields honored those. Sorry for the false alarm.


Already addressed the folders vs. text documents for chapters, above, but…

Thank you. I believe I follow all of that and that it is the only way to do what I need to do, given Scrivener’s conventions.

I’m going to suggest that if possible, it could be very helpful in any updates to the program for the binder to have an optional column, similar to to the row-numbering column of a spreadsheet, that numbers the items in the binder and that a user can configure—such as with starting and ending numbers—for just such situations as I’m facing. I have little doubt that the integral nature of the programming probably makes that an unrealistic suggestion, but I sure could use it right now.

There are so many exceptions to the rules that such introductory information would turn into the manual itself, I suspect.

I didn’t mean to pry, but I’ve found that when a someone is trying to find a way of doing something like adding what I’d call “phantom numbers” that don’t show up on compile, they’re really trying to solve an problem that can be accomplished in another way (or ways) in Scrivener. If you didn’t actually need the numbers in the title, I’d suggest using in-line annotations in the main text, for instance; such annotations can be excluded from compile in the Transformations section. Unfortunately, titles can’t contain annotations, or that would be exactly what you need.

You could also put the numbers in the synopsis, and then view your draft in Outline mode, with synopses visible; it wouldn’t be the same as 3-Chapter Name, but you’d still see the numbers beneath each chapter name without having to do anything special to get rid of them when compiling.

Visit File->Compile. Make sure you are seeing the “All Options” version of the window, and then click on the Formatting section (on the left). Select the row that corresponds to your chapter files (I’d get rid of the folders first, if you are so inclined). You’ll know you have the appropriate row selected because the corresponding files will be highlighted in the binder (if you can see the binder at that point).

Then click on the “Section Layout” button above the example text box. That will drop down another window that has Prefix and Suffix boxes, which should contain something like CHAPTER <$t>. Delete the <$t> part, and then go to Edit->Insert->Auto-Number and select the Roman numerals you prefer (upper or lower case). This will insert a different code, that upon compile, will transform into an incrementing series of Roman numerals near your titles.

A solution just occurred to me. It requires a little black magic, and some non-numeric characters to surround your numbers:
=1= Chapter title
=15= Other title
…and so forth. Be sure when you add them that there are no spaces between the equals signs and the numbers. You can put a space after the 2nd equals sign to make your titles more readable.

Go to File->Compile and select the Replacements section.
Make sure you have the “Project Replacements” tab selected (not the Preset Replacements tab)
Add a new row (click on the + button near the bottom.
In the Replace column enter this mumbo-jumbo (I’d copy & paste it in to avoid mistakes):
Leave the “With” column blank
Check the “Regex” check-box.
Then compile or hold down the OPT key and click the Save button (so that the above is preserved).

If you don’t like equals signs, replace them with punctuation other than periods, asterisks, parentheses, square brackets, and plus signs. Those all have special meaning in the Regex mumb-jumbo above. Of key importance is that if you have a similar pattern of punctuation-mark + number + punctuation-mark anywhere in your text, that will also be stripped out, so choose wisely.

I do understand, but in this case the precise thing I need is Arabic sequential numbers with each chapter title in the binder. It’s a situation unique to the manuscript and flow of complex plot lines, plus collaborative editorial efforts. Thanks, though.

I’m fond of black magic. I don’t know how anyone can marry literary efforts to software without its liberal use. Having long ago gone over to the GREP side, I find your solution clever and resourceful. Thank you.

Excellent, another practitioner of the dark arts. :smiling_imp:

The Novel template is already set up to work in an alternate fashion if one does not wish to outline down to the level of scenes. The “default” workflow as described is what you quoted, but if you search the template instructions for “Working with chapters instead of scenes”, you’ll find instructions for using files as chapters instead of folders with multiple many files.

Really you only need to worry about steps one through three while writing, but you’ll want to set aside the rest of these notes when it comes time to compile as there will be a few tweaks you need to make (and hopefully in doing so you’ll see how the relationship between the Binder and Compiler is very flexible, and that what you see described in the template is only one possible way of using Scrivener—quite likely not the best way for you, at least with this project).

                    ⠂─────── ⟢⟡⟣ ─────── ⠂

Regarding numbering, I’m not sure if it has been said here, but there is a way to number index cards, using the View/Corkboard Options/Show Card Numbers. As you’ll probably be working with a flat list of text files in your Draft, this may work well for what you need.

I believe some extension to this in the Outliner is on the slate for the future (I’m not sure of the status at the moment; I do know it was under consideration), but if any kind of numbering were to be added beyond what you see here in the Corkboard, it would stop at the Outliner and not continue on into the Binder, where space is at a premium and the visual design has always focussed on keeping things as clean as possible (we get all kinds of requests for this feature or that feature to be added to the Binder—it would just end up being the Outliner if we added them all, and there already is an Outliner that does everything most people ask for).

One problem with the notion in general is that Scrivener is too flexible for something like true print-accurate numbering to be easily implemented. Consider for example, those who like to keep writing notes directly alongside the manuscript, by disabling the “Include in Compile” checkbox in the Inspector. Such files will not print when you compile. Should they be numbered? Probably not, but not everyone uses that feature the way I just described it—some use it to temporarily exclude portions of the manuscript so they can proof three or so chapters, in that case the excluded stuff probably should be numbered—-and that is just one potential complication with one feature.

Considering that, and the fact that most all of the reasons one would need print-accurate numbers with a word processor + plethora-of-external-tools-both-digital-and-analogue are solved by Scrivener’s design of folding the external organisation directly into the manuscript. When you can drop a link to a section from another section (including the global Project Notes), isolate a plot thread with a single click or have your cross-references numbered correctly on compile, there aren’t many reasons left for needing numbers. Collaboration, as you point out, is probably the largest reason left, for those that cannot all be using Scrivener to work on the book.

Hence, there is nothing more complicated than simple card numbering that isn’t even print-accurate in all but the most basic scenarios.