Compile Formats Disconnected from Section Layouts

I am trying to learn the details of compiling so I can set up custom output formats.

I created a few formats by duplicating existing formats and then trying out modifications. I am very confused by how the concepts of section layouts, section types, and custom styles relate to one another. But that’s neither here nor there for my question.

But now all of the original, Scrivener provided compile formats have been disconnected from the section layouts. I get the yellow box warning for every output file type and every format selection. Does anyone have any idea what I did wrong? Can I restore the format to layout assignments from factory defaults? Thanks.


You’re not doing anything wrong: the default for the built-in formats is to have the yellow box, so all you’re seeing is the standard behaviour.

As far as I understand it, the idea is that the first time you use a given format for a given project, you see the yellow warning and you allocate the Section Layouts to your Section Types.

Once you’ve done that for this project, the Layouts should stick (but you’ll go back to the defaults for another project.). You have to have compiled the document (or clicked Option to turn ‘Compile’ into ‘Save’ for the settings to be retained though.

On the other hand, once you’ve created / editing your own formats then the section layouts should persist across projects.


Section types relate to your manuscript: what is this thing in the Binder? A Chapter? A Scene? Something else? These don’t change: a chapter is a chapter, whether it’s in a PDF file or a Word document.

Section layouts relate to your Compile formats: How should a particular chunk of text be formatted? These might change radically, say if Publisher A wants 12 point Courier double-space, but Publisher B recommends right-justified Times Roman single-space.

You define your output formatting by assigning a section layout to each section type.

Styles are best ignored unless you have a specific reason to use them: heading, epigraphs, block quotes, and other things that are smaller than a Binder item but require unique formatting, or if the next step in your work flow requires them.

To your question, the yellow box is normal. It simply says that you haven’t told Scrivener which Section Layouts should be applied to what section types. You can assign these manually, or define defaults as part of the format, or both.


Thanks very much. I just created a new blank project and took a look. As you said would happen, yellow boxes everywhere.

I understand why I am confused. Before posting my question I checked another project I was working on. In that project all the predefined formats are connected to section layouts, so I see no yellow boxes. And yet I did nothing in that project to cause the assignments.

But then I realized that the project I checked was converted from Scrivener 2. Is it possible that the conversion process is where the assignments were made?

Yes. Scrivener 3 attempts to make intelligent choices when converting Scrivener 2 projects.


I use styles sparingly. I use Block Quote and one other user-defined style for showing records of events like births, marriages, deaths, censuses, as this particular project is a family history book. I am deeply into the user manual now about the compiling process, so anxiously awaiting learning how to format these particular styles for nice output.

Thanks for all the help!