Compile problems

I keep thinking with each Scrivener project that this time I’ll figure out why compile doesn’t work for me, but each time it ends up a complete nightmare, with me needing to manually fix a number of issues. So I figured this time, maybe I should finally figure out what’s going wrong. I suspect it’s a formatting issue in my original Scrivener project, but even if I request to override formatting, it still comes out with these problems:

*Wrong font (header and text–I change the font in the compile options menu, but it never changes)

*Double chapter titles (I name each of my documents “Chapter x”, but when I compile Scrivener adds in chapter titles as well, even if I delete them from the compile options menu).

*Chapter titles halfway down the page

*Text breaks with *** are single indented, rather than centered as I have in my text.

*Each paragraph indent is doubled (ie, tab tab, rather than a single tab).

Thanks in advance for your help!

This may have to do with editing the formatting of a different type or level than the one your text is on. Would you post a screenshot of your binder to have an idea how you’re organizing your contents?

As you know, Scrivener can do the chapter naming/numbering for you, but if you insist on doing it by yourself, un-checking “Titles” in the formatting pane may not be enough. To completely remove Scrivener numbering, edit the prefix and/or suffix accordingly on the corresponding layout of the formatting pane.

This is adjusted on the formatting pane as well, you select how many lines to use for padding.

Any text not marked “preserve formatting” will be formatted as you request on the corresponding formatting level setting. You may have Scrivener insert those “***” for you as separators, and they will be centred. If you want to include them yourself I suggest you to select preserve formatting for them.

Indents are not the same as tabs. Your text probably has tabs on it. You might want to remove them globally and let Scrivener apply the desired indent.

Hope this helps!

If you already have everything set up the way you prefer it to look, with everything all typed in manually and numbered by hand, why not just select “Original” from the Format As compile drop-down and be done with it? That’s precisely what it is for. It sounds like you have all kinds of special features turned on that are designed for those who want the compiler to format their document for them, automatically build chapter numbering out, generate headers in accordance with the outline in the Binder and so on, so yes, these settings will very much by design revert and change all kinds of things. :slight_smile:

I suspect something along these lines should do fine:

I put TNR in the font setting since it sounded like you were trying to get the compiler to change your font—but I wasn’t clear on if you wanted that, this will change all of the fonts in the document to one font. The default (for Original), is “Determined by Document Style”, and will leave everything alone. If you use one font for chapter headings and another for body text, then the latter will do better for you.

Wow! Thank you, both. I started with Amber’s suggestion, as it seemed less cumbersome, to stick to original formatting. I had to do some playing around to make sure it included my chapter titles, etc, but it completely worked and looked exactly as I hoped.

Then, just to make sure I knew how to use the tool, I tried r6d2’s suggestions, and strangely enough, that worked, too. Either I just unknowingly clicked some button that fixed all my troubles, or… maybe it was the formatting pane. As r6d2 hinted at, I think I had check the “folder” for formatting options, when my manuscript is currently all text, without any folders.

A few last questions, as I really do want to know how to use Scrivener correctly. I get you saying that Scrivener will automatically add in indents and chapter titles. But does it only do that when I compile? In other words, previous to compiling, would I have a text without any indents? And if I don’t title my texts something (currently I just title them, “Chapter x”), then how would I keep each document straight?

Thanks so much–you both have just somehow magically saved me several hours! :slight_smile:

Glad to hear hours have been saved. :slight_smile:

That would make sense. Scrivener’s Formatting pane lets you set up how things will be formatted per icon type (folder, file, file stack) as well as level, how indented something is in the Binder. This can come in handy, for example, if your book has parts and chapters. Naturally you would want your part breaks to be printed different than chapter breaks (perhaps even on their own page, with a blank page to the left—Scrivener can even do that). If chapters are nested in parts as folders, then parts would be “level 1” and chapters “level 2”. That’s a bit more complicated, but maybe that helps illuminate how this section of the compiler works.

So, if you just click on the first thing in the list (or click on nothing at all and leave it as you saw it when you first loaded the pane), it would probably be on folders, which 99 times out of 100 isn’t going to be what you wrote your chapter text into itself. Thus, the changes you make to the formatting will seem to have no impact.

Just think of it this way: for each icon type, the compiler can print different things. The checkbox matrix in the top half tells you what things to include. Maybe the title of the item itself, as you see it in the Binder, or the text—the stuff you type into the text editor. Then, if you have the override formatting option turned on, you can set how that stuff looks. That’s where it gets interesting. Also that Section Layout button, where you can add “Chapter One” type generic text before or after the Title, or entirely in lieu of it (leaving your folder/file names to be purely internal reference, more on that below).

Yes, that’s the idea—that one can write without worrying about formatting or the minutia of document structure, and have the compiler add page breaks, chapter titles, and even go in and change the font and paragraph indents for text, but only when you compile.

That is one way of using the software, and it is how many of our pre-built templates are set up. For example the default settings on the Mac use the Cochin font at 14pt with a small amount of paragraph indent. But, if you choose the Novel starter, when you compile the output will be a more typical 12pt Courier double-spaced result—nothing like what you see in the editor. Scrivener is designed to let you write in a manner that is creatively pleasing to you, rather than having to stare at 12pt Courier all day (or whatever). That isn’t how you have to use it—that’s why there is the “Original” preset. If you actually like using Courier all day, or Times New Roman, then you can, but you don’t have to, that’s the key thing.

The compiler can take everything you write and clean it all up for you. It can even drop the paragraph indent after scene breaks and chapter headings, as is typical for publishing, or use empty line scene breaks or * * * only when the break falls at the very end of the page, and all kinds of nice things that are otherwise cumbersome or difficult to do by hand. If you drag a chapter from the end of the book to the beginning, you needn’t worry about having to manually renumber all of those folders or files by hand, since the compiler can also do that for you as well.

All of this is perhaps more advanced, and certainly quite different from using a normal word processor, where “What You See is What You Get” (true, some of these things can be done with advanced stylesheet usage in Word, but that’s a lot of learning too), but over time you may find things like this can save you a lot of time once you learn how to use them.

So to clarify on that, if it isn’t already clear, the answer to that is up to you. If you like indents while writing creatively, then sure you can have indents in your text editor (that is the default after all). When you compile, the indent might be different, that’s up to your settings. The thing is: if you don’t like indents, maybe they look awkward to you, whatever, you don’t have to have them in your face for eight months while you write. They can be added when you compile—that’s really the secret ingredient here.

For example, I use entirely descriptive chapter titles. They would would not be something I’d want my readers to see at all! They are spoilers, in fact, but for me, as a writer, that’s just what I want. I want to be able to see the detailed structure of my book right in my face, like “Where Joseph stabs Mark and steals the money”, not a bland and nondescript, “Chapter 32”. That’s what I want my readers to see, because they must be kept in the dark, but when I click on a folder, I want to know what’s up in that chapter. :slight_smile:

Ultimately, the software boils down to this: you can use it like a normal word processor if you want. And in that case you would use “Original” and keep things simple. When you do that, you have to take care and make sure everything looks flawless in the editor (just like Word/OpenOffice/etc.). The alternative is to just throw caution to the wind, not worry about formatting at all, just write and let the compiler clean up everything for you. The con to that is, of course, a little more learning. You have to dig in a bit and figure out how this thing works. But a lot of people find that very rewarding in the end—and we do have a number of sensible presets too. The Standard Manuscript Format preset, set to Courier or TNR, will serve many authors quite well, without having to learn a bunch of stuff.

Thanks, Amber. Clear and thought-provoking, too. About to start a new ms on Scrivener, and interesting to think about how I might do it this time.