compile confusion - formatting

I’m an established novelists; I’ve got nine novels in print with major publishers, and I’m working on the tenth now. I write complex historical fiction and I love the way Scrivener lets me collect research materials, organize and access them without leaving the actual manuscript. I have been using Scrivener for a long time, but when it comes to the compiling of a draft, I have never been able to get things to look the way I want them to with the result that I generally give up and move over to Word by the time I’m about 1/4 of the way through the novel. This time I’d like to conquer this particular stumbling block, so I’ve been reading through the forum and the manual and the ‘taking control’ book. Still no luck. The standard settings don’t work for me because lots of things end up being treated like a chapter that should not be.

While I understand that there is a way to do what I need to do, I still can’t nail down the exact steps I need to take. Thus this post.

What I’ve got is this structure:

-Front material
–title page
–list of previous novels
–author’s note
–list of characters
–map and map key

-Prologue (in a folder, but should not be numbered as a chapter, must have page numbers)

-Part I (a single page, on its own page; should not be numbered as a chapter, and should not have a page number)

-Part II (a single page, on its own page; should not be numbered as a chapter)
[and so on]

As I understand things now:

I should think of everything under ‘front material’ as Level 1 documents.

I should be thinking of the Prologue and the ‘part’ pages as Level 2 documents. Page 1 would be the first page of the Prologue and would carry on from there, though the page numbers shouldn’t show up on the ‘Part’ pages.

The chapters (with scenes) are Level 3.

And these are the crucial questions:

  1. How does any given section know what level it’s supposed to be on? How do I tell the prologue that it’s Level 2 and not Level 3, and shouldn’t be labeled ‘Chapter’?
  2. How do the ‘Part !’ type pages know that they are Level 2, but shouldn’t be numbered?
  3. How do I tell the numbering to start with the prologue?
  4. I know I can add a level in the formatting pane, but I don’t understand how the levels are interpreted (see below). 2+ doesn’t mean much to me.
  5. Is there a prefix I can put on the chapters that will distinguish them as needing a ‘chapter’ heading, and if so, how do I do that?

I’ve attached a screenshot of the formatting window.

I should say that I realize that fine-tuning the formatting doesn’t happen in Scrivener; I’m not worried about how things look. The issue here is simply numbering – of sections and chapter heads and pages.


I wanted to add that I have continued to work on this on a trial-and-error basis, but without luck thus far. Any advice much appreciated.

The way I think of it is that the levels in the compiler represent the level of indentation in the Binder. Anything extreme left position in the Binder is at is level one, next indentation is level two, etc. The compiler settings just tell it what to do when it comes across an item that has been set at that level of indentation in the Binder.

I leave the rest of the explanation to the experts!


Sorry for the late reply. Following the suggestion of another user, in an attempt to make the interpretation of the Formatting levels much easier, the next update of Scrivener will highlight the documents in the binder that will be affected by the currently-selected formatting level in Compile, like this:

This should take the guesswork out of it, because you will have immediate visual feedback of exactly what documents you are affecting when you edit the Formatting pane.

In the meantime, there might be some useful tips on which levels are which in this post:

In essence, though, if you are compiling the Draft folder, then immediate subdocuments of the Draft folder are at level 1, then documents inside those are at level 2, and documents inside those are at level 3, and so on.

The page numbering? The best way would be to have the prologue as part of the main Draft folder, and the rest of the front matter that comes before it in a separate folder outside of the Draft folder. Then select that other front matter folder in the “Front matter” section of the Contents pane of Compile, and choose “Automatic” for where page numbering should start in the “Page Settings” pane - “Automatic” causes it to start after the front matter folder if there is one.

This is just done using the formatting levels - you assign the prefix there.

One thing I would say is that if you are confused, remember that you don’t have to handle all of this in Compile. You could just add your chapter numbers and tags to the documents themselves, or in the folder text, and not have Compile add all of this stuff at all.

All the best,

Keith – thank you for that very detailed response. The other post you pointed to is also really helpful. I do think the change you’ve described that will be implemented in the next version of Scrivener will be helpful.

So I am going to tackle this when I have a chunk of time when I won’t be interrupted. Thanks again.