Chapters as documents vs folders

Hi all,
After composing two nonfiction books using a document for each chapter, I see in the template intro that it’s recommended to use a folder for each chapter. Is there a good reason why I should change my process?

One detail that may be important: the first two books were compiled in Word and sent to my publisher, but the current one will be a self-published ebook. Nothing fancy in the organization - it’s a selection of essays, one per chapter.


In short: it matters comes compiling; since one won’t want a chapter that was split in smaller bits to systematically have those bits compile with a header.
It allows to establish a difference between the “root” and the follow up documents if using section type by structure.

The distinction between folder and file also serves as a trigger for separators at compile.

. . . .
Compiling aside:
It also makes the binder collapsible, where you’d get a condensed version of the chapters sequence, having all “root documents” visible, while hiding the sub-documents.
(Note that this is achievable with file groups as well.)

Folder documents (or again file groups) can also automatically display as scrivenings in the editor. So selecting one would display the whole of your chapter.

This being said, you can totally do without if you prefer; it is simply less convenient, and implies more work on the user’s part.

Thanks Vincent!
So…it seems that if I had chapters which were broken into numbered sections, then folders as chapters would make sense. But in a project like mine, where each chapter is one essay, using files as chapters doesn’t cause problems. Yes?

Should be ok.
. . . . . .
Documents are easy to convert from file to folder (and vice versa) anyways.

In addition to @Vincent_Vincent’s sage comments … perhaps make a copy of your last project that has chapters in individual documents and no folders, reorganise it with folders and documents (even subdocuments breaking about those chapters, if it suits) and see how you like it.

The only good reason I can think of is whether or not a more detailed outline suits the way you think, and often as well, how your work is structured. For example a lot of times I see people posting questions about how to make scrolling more efficient—how to find headings in long documents, how to link to a subsection within it—and generally that means to me they could benefit from a more detailed outline, even if they resolutely think they don’t. The fact they are scrolling around endlessly and getting frustrated means they need more navigation points into their text, that is what an outline is. It’s a map of your text.

Now if your chapters are very short, and generally very concise in the topic they address, that’s an example of not needing elaborate maps of the text.

There are zero rules. And all of this is a matter of configuration when it comes to how the software can be made to work for you (not forcing you to think inside little boxes). The template you saw is set up one way, but has a simple checklist of instructions in the help file at the top of its binder, for making it work the way you stated preferring. It’s just a few switches here and there.

And here, for the sake of an opposing extreme, is what the chapter on this topic (using the binder, outlining within it and so on) looks like in the user manual project, which is used to create the PDF in the help menu:

And that is a fairly short chapter, at that. Here we have hierarchical headings, tip boxes, figures and even individual bullet points broken out at certain points, into the outline itself. As you may guess, I hardly ever scroll in Scrivener!

As I say: no rules. Do what suits the work, and adapt your configuration to match it.


Thanks to you all! My last note about this - does any of this matter when I go to compile for an ebook (which I haven’t done yet)? Although as Vincent reminded me, if my setup doesn’t work I can always convert and try again.

It is all a question of your book’s structure at this point.
Only you can actually answer that question.

But otherwise no, you will not get an error message saying “Ebooks need folders to compile properly.” :wink:

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Vincent_Vincent thanks :slightly_smiling_face:

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There are only two differences, generally, between files and folders, neither of them having to do with words like *chapter’:

  1. they have different default icons
  2. default Separators are different: page break for
    folders and line break for files

Both can be changed. Organize things however you like and make it look any way you want.

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Thanks so much, Bob.

Most of this applies only to those who like structure-based compile (which I don’t – I got wayy more than enough of it in version 2). Giving each document a named section type makes folders and chapters interchangeable (other than default Separators).