Chapters and scenes numbering

It would be difficult for me to switch from v1 to beta v3 while revising a 600+ pages novel. I mean, I would be really nervous to do so.
But if a certain feature exists in v3, I might be tempted.
Is there a way to display scene or chapters numbers in the binder? And go to specific scene or chapters, using their numbers?
Or did I miss an existing feature?

You could number the chapters in metadata (custom metadata), display that in Outline View in the right editor (along with whatever else), click on Navigate → Outliner selection affects *Other Editor, and then when you select in Outline View that chapter will open in the left editor.

So, not really in the Binder, but something similar.

And if it’s in the metadata, you can display it in the text, too.

I wouldn’t switch in the middle of a huge project, though.

I’m wondering about “something like this” as well, not so much for scenes, but for chapter Folders in the Binder. Currently I write by chapter numbers displayed by a manual text entry in the Binder for each chapter Folder, e.g. 1. He lives 2. He dies 3. He arises as a zombie overlord, 34. He’s dead again, etc.

More often than not, in the binder I find myself moving a chapter’s Folder from 21. to 19. or to 25. Often I will add a chapter Folder out of order. This necessitates a Binder renumbering project for everything after 19. with new numbers. I find that I do this more than a few times on each writing project. (I’m using the latest Beta 31.)

Is there any way to “hit the button”, so to speak, and have the binder display a re-numbered in the proper order display of Chapter folders? For example, a chapter# code that could be inserted at the beginning of each chapter’s text that not only displays the chapter title in the text when it’s compiled (or not compiled), but transfers the proper numbering sequence to the Binder?

As in, select the appropriate chapter folders in the Binder, apply the fix, and zoomba! the chapter folders are moved/shuffled into their appropriate order in the Binder with revised chapter numbers?

For me, I always name my chapters and scene documents to do two things: amuse myself, and identify the core of that text’s content. You’re doing that with “He lives” and “He arises as a zombie overlord”. “He dies again” tells me me plenty: He died once before, and so the “He Dies” chapter should always come before the “He dies again” chapter, unless I’m playing with chronology.

But what purpose does the number serve? Maybe if you can get to how you’re using those numbers, someone can tell you if a feature exists to help with whatever that root requirement is.

Revision purpose.
Easier to say: what did you think of the dialogue in scene 212 than to go by the title.
And anyway, I ran out of good titles long ago.
And to spot them in the binder… forget it.
So yes, I can number them when I compile. But afterwards, there is no way I can refer to the number I see in the output in the writing window.

One thing you might consider; if you can view your list of chapters in the corkboard, and split the editor, setting it so the other editor loads the text of the clicked card (which can be in scrivenings mode if the document has sub-documents), then you can enable View->Corkboard Options->Card Numbers. Those numbers are applied in order, even if you rearrange your documents.

Another more involved, but ultimately kind of neat solution would be (assuming it’s working in the beta now) is to enable the “Insert links back to Scrivener in each Section” option in the compile window. It doesn’t work for “print”, but it does for PDF, Word, and most other electronic compile outputs. So long as that file is opened on the same computer (and user account) where the Scrivener project resides, these links will take you back to the binder item in Scrivener that the section of text came from.

You could follow along in a PDF on your laptop. When you’re discussing what others see as “Chapter 12” on their print-out, you can jump to that chapter in your PDF. If you then need to jump into that point in Scrivener, just click the link. No need to number anything (or re-number them) if you’re still adding, removing, splitting or merging chapters in the binder. The titles would be just for your benefit.

Very cool work-around! I’ll try.
At the same time, I would urge L&L to consider this function in the future. It he corkboard cards can be numbered, why not extent the possibility to the binder titles?
The link trick seems very fun as well, but I am not (yet) working with the beta. It as way too slow the last time I tried it.

Well, I had a response, but my dog ate my login and I lost it before I could submit it.

The Binder Folders are my chapter numbers, as explained. I don’t use chapter descriptions in my output table of contents. It’s numbers only. But I’m not asking about that.

Suppose I have a Chapter, which is a Folder in the Binder, that is too long. I wrote it anyway to get the words down. I moved on, whether to do more editing, or to another chapter, let’s say 16.

I’m now done. Fini. 35 chapters in total. It’s final edit time. I look at 15, and decide it’s too long and I must break it up into two chapters. So I call the new chapter 16, except I already have a chapter 16 in my Binder. It follows 15. My new chapter is 15.A, but needs to be chapter 16. By my chapter numbering system of Folders in the Binder, I now have two chapter 16s, several 25s, and a handful of 31s.

I must manually renumber every folder following chapter 15’s Folder to accommodate the added chapter(s)

I will do this any number of times during production. I’m accustomed to it now, and it gives me another opportunity to look at things for flow, but it can be a pain to do it multiple times.

(It’s a small, first-world writer’s problem, I know. [ insert cat picture here ] )

That’s a little more difficult. Unfortunately, Scrivener’s autonumbering scheme doesn’t save state. Put “<$n>” at the start of each chapter, and that numbers at compile time. It can number in any of several ways.

But it doesn’t save state. What you’re looking for is some scheme that will save state, in the document title. I can think of a couple of ways to do this, but none that are built in to Scrivener.

You can get the outliner to number for you (View > Outliner Options > with numbers), but the state isn’t saved, and it doesn’t show in the binder. You can add hierarchical number to each chapter “<$hn>”, and then the compiler output should correspond to the Outliner numbering, but it means you have to add that string somewhere in each chapter (the n is updated each time it occurs, so if you miss one, the numbers will all be off).

I guess it is one for the wish list then!

For those discussing “chapter 1, scene 2” with other people, is the the corkboard (or outline) numbering not sufficient for you? “I’m confused about the second scene of chapter 17” is all you’d need to know to scroll down the outline to “17.2 Electric Boogaloo”.

With copyholders and bookmarks, you have 1 full-function editor and 3 other views of individual files (not to mention quick-reference windows), so while it’s a sacrifice of one of the two editor panes, you still have a lot of options for referencing other parts of the project.
outline numbering.png

That’s how I personally would make this work. This does require, however, manually numbering chapters and scenes for the readers so they can reference the right document. Otherwise, they’re referencing, “the part where King Lugshug Boogaloos the Electrics.” Of which there might be several.

And that numbering is what the OP wanted to automate in some way.

Me, I prefer to number every scene anyway, just because.

Sorry - why does it involve manually numbering the chapters and scenes for the reader? I think I must be missing something.

You do that in Compilation automatically - you just have to choose Section Layouts for the Chapters and scenes which add headers with numbers not titles. It’ s one of the basic functions of compilation to do this. If you’re happy with the inbuilt section layouts it takes a few seconds to do to choose the right one for each Section Type and it should remember the choice for next time.

I think this is one of the reasons why people are questioning why you want to do any manual numbering in the binder at all, because on the face of it, you really don’t need to, to achieve what you’ve described what you want to do. So, are we misunderstanding what benefits you get from doing it, which you can’t get from the automatic methods we’ve outlined in this thread?


Okay, well, imagine 45 or 50 or 60 Folders. Each Folder is a chapter in a novel. The chapters may be written in order. They may not. I may write the midpoint first, and I might write the ending after, so I have a hint where I’m going.

Several very long chapter Folders could be split into one or two other folders and become chapter Folders on their own. Those new chapter Folders may not go where I split them off. They may need to go somewhere else. They may not.

Meh, never mind. I’ll keep doing it the way I do it. I produce output very fast. The method I’m using works for me. I can’t be bothered trying to change it up now.

But he situation you’re describing is one of the reasons the automatic methods exist… they’re designed to reduce the complexity and tedium of keeping up to date with chapter and scene numbers as you make structural changes.

With the automatic method, you set up the section layouts in compilation once and it takes a couple of minutes at most (if you have slightly complicated needs, less if you don’t), then you never have to think of it again.

When you want the the scene numbering in the editing process, you select the Manuscript folder and hit Ctl-3 for the outline (save the outline with numbering as a layout first). That’s it. You can do all the reordering and splitting you want and never have to think of the numbering again, because it’s taken care of for you.

With your method you have to rename documents over and over again - for no additional benefit.

Obviously it’s your choice, but it does seem a lot of unnecessary work.

It’s a matter of changing a mere number(s) and re-positioning the Folder. No biggie.

Unless you change chapter 1 and then have to renumber Chapters 2 to 50…

It’s your choice, of course - we’re not trying to force you to change; only trying to let people know that there features available to stop it being necessary if they don’t want to do the extra work.

So beta reader 11 says, “in Scene 5 of Chapter 32…”

Now, without using the outliner to show you the dot notation chapters/scenes (for whatever reason, can’t or won’t use it), you have no clue, without a label, which chapter and scene that is without actually counting them.

Counting 7 or 8 chapters is no big deal, but counting 60 of them might be a bit of an ache.

The OP asked for a method in the Binder. Well… there really isn’t one without manual entry.

There are other methods (as you outline), but none of them are really saved; you can’t trust that today’s scene 5 will be the same tomorrow, because you might add another scene or two in front of it. And then to track what part of the novel the reader is commenting about, you have to index the old one to the new one.

He wants to number the Binder like a list, and then when he adds something in between, like, say, item 4a, have Scrivener renumber it when he wants it renumbered, not automagically (because that loses the place where Scene 5 was; it’s no longer scene 5, it’s Scene 7 because he added 2 scenes in there). And, when using a laptop, it’s really easy to accidentally move a scene from 17th to 3rd and not even notice you did it (thumb brushes the touchpad and clicks something). A Binder-based manual numbering scheme helps spot when that has happened. The Outliner doesn’t care if you move something; scene 3.17 just become scene 3.3, or 3.3.1, maybe, and something else becomes scene 3.17. It’s not acceptable as a numbering mechanism when you want to save the numbers with the chapters and scenes they belong to.

Might not make a lot of sense to you, but it does to me.

I see – thanks for the detailed explanation, it’s helpful.

There is a way of recording the binder setup, though it’s a step further and it may not do exactly as is wanted. As a workaround it may help some people, though, so I’ll post it in case it’s useful to someone.

  1. File > Page Setup > Scrivener (in the dropdown list) > Outline > Prefix titles with number, then untick synopses. (On Windows it’s File > Print Settings >

  2. File > Print and save it as a PDF with a suitable name (Binder Compiled draft 2?)

  3. Import the pdf to the binder as a quick reference to the state of the compiled version you send to the beta readers.

Or you could use the Compilation setting Outline Document at the same time as you compile the main version. You may have to fiddle with the format a little to get it exactly as you want it, but again it will give you a quick reference to the binder state for that draft.

For me, that initial setup would be worth it because it avoids having to constantly change the titles in the binders and it gives a permanent record of the changes. But then, I don’t like the idea of only having numbers in the binder because it makes knowing which scene is doing what harder. Others will disagree and that’s fine!

One final thought – is there a reason that you have to use the same compilation format for the beta readers as for the final everything-is-ready-for-publication submission? It’s trivial to use one format which outputs the titles of chapters and scenes for beta readers to refer to, then a different format using only numbers for the final submission.