Compile issues (Newbie)

Hi all,

I’m quickly nearing the point where my project will go out to beta readers, meaning it is time for me to tackle the compiling side of the Scrivener.

I have sorta kinda figured things out. I know how to add my name and such to the running head, change the font, and so on. What utterly baffles me is the formatting portion. I’m failing to see the logic behind the Level 1+ and so on arrangement. I know there is a purpose to this, but I’m too dense to discern what it is.

The result is that, while I would like chapters to start halfway down the page, they start immediately following the chapter title. Any help you guys can provide would be greatly appreciated.


The levels refer to the structure of the manuscript outline in the binder. Here is a helpful image I snagged from page 240 of the user manual:compile-formatting-example1.png
Immediate children of the Draft folder (which might be renamed “Manuscript” in your project, depending on the template you started with) are Level 1. Their children are Level 2, etc. Formatting can be defined differently for each level, and the final level defined will apply to all the deeper levels after it, indicated by the “+”.

The different icons refer to the three types of text file you can have in the binder: folders, document groups (i.e. documents that have subdocuments), and single documents. Just match the icon in the table with the icons of your document files in the binder to see what’s what.

To start a document partway down the page, you’d select the appropriate row in the table, then increment the “page padding” just below the right corner of the table. The page padding only applies when the document follows a page break (so you don’t suddenly get every page only printing on the bottom half). If you’re trying to put space between a document’s title and text, you can click the Section Layout button and add some blank lines to the title Suffix.

NOTE: This and the subsequent few posts have been resolved, but I’ve left them intact in case the history of my confusion and its resolution is helpful.

Hi, Jennifer,

Thanks for this overview of the compiler.

I’m puzzled by the way the compiler handles a folder of documents. I’ve selected a folder (Poems), and the compiler shows most, but not all, of the docs in that folder. “Head Voices” and “Noir” are missing.

What’s more, when the compiler is done, the output (PDF in this case) isn’t in the same sequence as the documents. Shouldn’t the selection list in the compiler be in the same order as the docs are in the Binder?

Finally, in the compiler, the drop-down list just above the doc title list doesn’t show much of what’s in this Binder. Only two of several top-level objects are available for selection. Shouldn’t the whole top-level structure of the Binder be visible?

Thanks in advance,


Here’s a screencap of the dropdown list in the compiler, alongside the actual Binder structure. Shouldn’t I be seeing the contents of “Possible Stories” in the compiler?

[Not sure whether to add new replies or edit existing ones.]

I’ve discovered that Scrivener is showing me only the collections in the compiler dropdown. Well, also it shows one of the folders in the binder with its one sub-document. Nothing else shows up unless I add it to a collection. The user guide seems to be saying that I should see the full structure of my project, but that’s definitely not happening.

Perhaps top-level objects are omitted from the compiler unless they’re the first one? That’s counter-intuitive to my way of thinking (since these folder trees are so ubiquitous throughout many kinds of apps), but it seems that may be the case. I’ve been compiling for ages now without worrying about what level the folders are on, but I guess I was lucky.

[more experimentation ensues…]

Yup. that’s the case. The previous non-conforming list of poems was from an old forgotten collection, not from the portions of the project that were selected. That was pretty confusing. Now I understand that only that one special top-level object is visible to the compiler.

At this point, I think the apparent anomalies are resolved, and I’ve answered my own question. It’s worth noting, however, that your (Jennifer) concise post is what inspired me to dig into the mysteries of the compiler again.

So thanks! And, as Emily Latella used to say, “Nevermind.”


I think you’ve worked out most of it, but I want to clarify a bit about the “top level” you’re talking about. With the exception of text documents in collections, only items in the Draft folder can be compiled. In this project, you’e renamed the Draft folder “Stories”, so that’s what you’re seeing in the menu in the compile contents. Beneath that, the menu would show its children and so on in submenus, so that you could select to compile just a single folder, however many levels deep.

So it’s not a matter specifically of what level the folders are on, but that they are contents of the top-level “Draft” folder that makes the difference. The Draft folder is special, in that it can’t be deleted, it can’t have text of its own (unlike other folders), it doesn’t have all the same available meta-data like keywords or document notes. Its just the container for all the stuff you may compile, separate from research and other references or note documents you may keep in the binder. Since the Draft’s purpose is to hold the manuscript text you’re ultimately going to compile, it can only contain text files (since other items can’t be compiled); imported PDFs, images, etc. can go anywhere else.

Ultimately then, the solution is just to move all your folders like Poems, Essays, etc. into the “Stories” folder. If you’re currently treating the “Stories” folder as identical to the others, as I assume from the title, you can do a little more housekeeping here to rename that folder to keep it clear for you that it’s just the compile bin–then select all its contents before moving the other folders in and choose Documents > Group to place them into a new folder that you can call “Stories”. Then that new “Stories” will be a subfolder of the Draft and you can move in Poems, etc. to be sibling folders, all treated the same within the Draft. They’ll then all be selectable for individual compile, or can all be compiled together, etc.

Exactly! (As it finally worked its way into my brainpan.)

I renamed Stories to Everything, and dragged nearly everything into it. I also created a collection for currently presentable Poems, one for Stories, and one for Essays. It makes a lot more sense now, but it sure wasn’t intuitive (and I design graphical user interfaces for a living).

Thanks for all the clarification and confirming. Lit & Lat should package a copy of you in every download. (That would be quite something…)

I took a stab at explaining the most important Aha! factoids (for me), and it’s an interesting case of several interlocking explanations, no one of which really goes first. Ideally, you’d make about six points at once, but since we read sequentially, you have to give a bit of this, then a bit of that, and then cycle back and add more and more of the subtleties. If I come up with something I think might be useful for other newbies, I’ll post it on the forum.

Thanks again,