Compiling with a cover?

When I compile I cannot set a graphic file as my cover. I have a statement telling me that there is no cover image and it appears there is no way to browse for my cover art. This issue is moot for Kindle as I can upload my cover art separately. I intend to also publish through Smashwords (which used ePub) to access the iTunes and the Barnes & Nobel audiences. I need the ability to compile locally into whatever format Scriverner supports using my cover art.

Please tell me how to accomplish this OR link me to step-by-step instructions or a link to a video tutorial.

Thanks in advance.


Have you imported the image into the binder and followed the manual’s advice about selecting it? … letter.pdf

See section 22.7

Thanks for the pointer. No, I hadn’t read the manual (and likely should have first). So, I simply add the picture or any artwork to the manuscript and it comes up in the drop-down list during compilation? It doesn’t get much easier than that…thank you.

Yes, if the artwork is in the binder in the right format then it should be selectable during compile. I’m on a Mac so don’t have direct experience of the Windows platform, but looking at the Windows manual it appears to be an identical process.

Good luck

Briar Kit

It worked perfectly. I’ve already overcome that hurdle (if it can be called that). I do appreciate the assistance.


Welcome. Happy to have been able to help.

I really dislike the way this has been explained in Scrivener. It really isn’t clear at all.

The instructions in compile say:

“(Only image files imported into the project are available for selection as the cover image)”

Which is not very helpful or clear for the average user. It assumes a knowledge of the distinction between what “importing” an image is, as opposed to simply “inserting” images which many people who use the program (myself included) just don’t have.

To be crystal clear to the developers of this thing WHY this one line explanation is confusing and needs to be clarified, here is a typical thought pattern for how this confusion arises:

When I am writing a book I typically have a structure like this in the draft area:

[size=150]My Great Book - A Folder
Chapter 1 - A Document
Chapter 2 - A Document[/size]

The reason myself, and so many others it seems, are having problems with getting Covers to show up is because they are approaching this in the logical way! (For a writer) And structuring their project as follows:
My Great Book - A Folder
Cover - A Document
Chapter 1 - A Document
Chapter 2 - A Document[/size]

They then click on “Cover - A Document”, which they want to hold the cover for the book (it is after logical to have it at the beginning) and they do what they have ALWAYS DONE in Scrivener to insert artwork, and that is:

[size=150]Edit > Insert > Image from File[/size]

Sure enough. Doing that. When you then look at the whole document in Scrivenings mode, or individually. It SEEMS as though you now have a nice cover for your book. (Hell, it works everywhere else!)

But then, when you go to:

[size=150] File > Compile > Cover Art[/size]

It doesn’t show up and you are confused as to WHY NOT!

I know that I am anyway! (Every time until today when I have FINALLY wrapped my head around it)

I look at the explanation on the “Covers” page and it says:

“(Only image files imported into the project are available for selection as the cover image)”

[size=150]And I am thinking, “What the hell does that mean? I already imported it into the binder. That is why it is showing up when I look at my book!?”[/size]

Users DO NOT have the same concept of “import” as the developers, because they often NEVER use it. So it doesn’t exist! In most users minds they have already imported the cover image when they went:

[size=150]Edit > Insert > Image from File[/size]

And each time I come back to the software to do this I ALWAYS have to hunt around online for how to get the cover art of scrivener to show up, because it just isn’t clear to me what it is I am supposed to have done differently!


I don’t think the Developers understand that users have NO distinction in their minds between “inserting an image” and “importing an image”.

The manual (page 202 if anyone else is looking) is no help in clarifying this. But THAT is the part of this that you need to explain better, because that is where the confusion is arising.

[size=150]Step By Step Guide to Making Covers Show Up In Scrivener[/size]

And because I am fed-up of personally figuring this out EVERY TIME I write a new book, here is a step by step guide for dummies (which clearly includes ME on this!) of the best way to have your cover art show up in compile (and still be neatly organised, rather then just having random names for the jpeg file show up when you go into compile).

I currently am working on a 5 book series, so this is what I have (finally) figured out is the best way to do this. (Doing it this way also means that you can have several cover designs for each book, but they still stay neatly organised when you come to compile the final book. Otherwise the images are all over the place in the “Cover” part of “Compile”)

1/ Left mouse click on “Draft” in the Binder area (or “Research” - it doesn’t matter as long as it is in the Binder somewhere).

2/ Now go down to the Bottom and click on “New Folder”

3/ Rename that new folder “Book Covers”

4/ If you have several books that you want covers for, then create however many sub-folders under that one that you need. (Note - “Folders” - That way you can keep it well organised (and collapsible) - If you create folders in the “Draft” area you will have to drag them into the original “Book Covers” folder, so that they are Sub-Folders to it)

e.g If you have three book projects. Or three digital formats that you need different covers for, then you might create these three folders.

Book 1
Book 2
Book 3

Then drag them in. So you end up with a collapsible folder called Book Covers in the “Draft” Area:

Book Covers
Book 1
Book 2
Book 3

You can, if you like, have just one folder and then just have the imported images beneath it (which might be fine for one book, with one cover). But the advantage of having folders is that when you come to compile it is easier to have the images show up in the order you want them.

If say you have ten versions of your cover for book 1.
Ten for book 2 etc.

*Which you might if for example you want a cover for your pdf, a cober for you kindle format, a cover for the smashwords book, and you want to test out a couple of design ideas for each one)

Then if all of those files were mingled in together it can get confusing very quickly!

If they are in folders it is clearer.

5/ Left mouse click on “Book 1” then choose - File > Import > Files

Select the cover image that you want to use. Here the manual IS more helpful. It suggests the following:

“Graphics for cover art should be in a standard RGB raster format, such as JPEG, and not a vector format, such as EPS, nor CMYK colour space which is designed for printing. For dimensions, there is no firm rule, but a size of roughly 800 pixels tall by 600 pixels wide at 72 DPI will display crisply on nearly all reading devices and computer screens with unnecessarily bloating the size of the e-book. If you are unsure of how to make these adjustments to the files you have been provided with, you should contact your graphic designer with these specifications so that they can deliver a quality version to you at the correct size.”

7/ A dialogue box that says “Import Files” will popup with dire-warnings about how the file will be converted to RTF or something. Ignore this! It doesn’t seem to make any difference.

Click Ok.

8/ If you now go to File > Compile > Cover then the cover image you just “Imported” (not inserted) will show up for you to use.

Ok. That’s it!

I hadn’t originally intended to spend an hour writing this! But anyway. I hope this clears up the confusion about this issue for some other people.

Developers - PLEASE change the wording “(Only image files imported into the project are available for selection as the cover image)” to explain it better.

Your users have NO IDEA that isn’t what they are already doing!

To repeat… Users DO NOT have the same concept of “import” as the developers, because they often NEVER use it. So it doesn’t exist! In most users minds they have already imported the cover image when they went:

Edit > Insert > Image from File

So the distinction needs to be explained better on the Cover Page of Compile AND in the Manual.

Thanks smile for your helpful guide but this doesn’t work for me. When I go to File -> Import -> Image, I’m only allowed to choose from “Supported Formats” which doesn’t include any image formats. Is this a bug from an update or am I doing something wrong?

Do you have a suggestion for succinct clearer wording, since “import” isn’t cutting it? It’s difficult to come up with something better because as you point out, there’s a clear distinction between import and insert in our minds, and since the import function is described or referenced frequently as how to get files–not just images, but text, PDFs, and so on–into your project binder, with the explanation also that non-text files cannot be imported into the Draft folder, it feels as though users who’ve gone through the tutorial or otherwise worked with the program will be familiar with this. I understand you’re saying that’s not the case, and I can easily imagine “import” never being used specifically via the menu (you may do all the work directly in Scrivener or just import files by dragging and dropping, bypassing the name “import” entirely), but I think it’s a stumbling block to us coming up with accurate wording that would be more easily understood by everyone. So if you have ideas, keeping in mind that the text needs to fit a small area of the dialog, please share!

Images and other non-text files cannot be imported into the Draft folder, so you likely just need to ensure that your binder selection is elsewhere before choosing File > Import.

Thanks for the instructions… for some reason the image that I had been using in my compile, although visible on the screen, wouldn’t appear in the compile box any longer.

The only thing I know of that I did was accidentally duplicate it and then remove one of the duplicates. Apparently I removed the wrong one and the remaining one wasn’t considered “imported”.

Might I suggest, if at all possible, that the compile box just list all images in the file? Maybe that would be too many, but…

Anyhow, in terms of Insert vs Import, if you specified “File/Import” instead of just Import, it might help. I was Inserting the file into a document, not even realizing/thinking about the File/Import (I don’t use that to speak of).


Having forgotten how I did it for my first Scrivener novel, and frustrating myself this morning prep’ing for the second, I found this thread and this VERY important tip. For lack of a better way of saying it, the folder/note into which you want to “import” your JPG must be at the first level beneath the “Draft” or “Manuscript” master folder.

Well, except that you can move the Research folder above the Draft, or the Draft below the Trash, and a JPEG can be dropped above the Draft at the very top of the Binder and not into any folders at all, or between the Draft and Research… really the only important thing is that you aren’t dragging it into the Draft folder (and probably not the Trash either, but you are welcome to do so if you wish). :slight_smile: