Complete Scrivener N00b, and I am lost/overwhelmed.

I’m very, very new to Scrivener 3. As in I just downloaded it yesterday. I am running the macOS version.

Up until now, all of my writing has been done on Word and I finally made the switch. To top it all off, I’m not a typical PC/Mac user. I come form a rather blue collar line of work originally and never learned a lot of what most casual computer users already know and take for granted. I hope that explains my cluelessness.

That out of the way, my biggest question right now is regarding the Standard Manuscript Format: When submitting in the SMF, the norm is .5 inch indentation at the beginning of a new paragraph and lines double spaced.

I can see that all of those things are adjustable in Scrivener. When I compile, does Scrivener conform to those standards or do I need start off that way from the beginning in the Templates? Or do the Templates already programmed that way?

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at our Interactive Tutorial, available from the Help menu. It’s a good overview of fundamental operations like editing and formatting.

In particular, Scrivener separates writing and formatting to a much larger degree than conventional word processors like Word. You don’t really need to worry about Standard Manuscript Format until you’re ready to submit something. You can write in electric green, 6 point Comic Sans if you want, and convert the formatting when you Compile.


Thank you for the reply.

I did go through the interactive tutorial but I don’t remember it answering my question. It’s quite possible that it did but there was a lot of information and I did feel almost as overwhelmed after it finished as I did before I began it.

Primarily, I did not want to start writing with Scrivener until I was sure that I wouldn’t have to alter the manuscript too much when I was already well into it.

Thank you again.

In all the years I’ve been using Scrivener (13?) I’ve never used any template except the blank one. And I’m not the only one that does this. Don’t worry about it. This is not a program in which you have to set everything up before you can begin. I always begin then set things up later if I feel like it. You need to forget some of the things you took for granted in MS Word and the like. Scrivener is about writing, not formatting. You can do the formatting after you have done the writing.

My suggestion: Create a new project and paste in some existing work (just a chapter or two, not an entire book’s worth). Then split up the chapters/scenes/sections as you would based on what you’ve learned of Scrivener. Finally, try playing with the compile dialogue. Try various options to see if you can get it to come out in standard manuscript format, or in a paperback-like format. See what is required to transform your text, and how close the result is to what you might need. Once you’re done playing, you can delete that project, or keep it for reference and experimentation.

At worst, you can always re-format the document in Word or Pages once you’ve compiled out of Scrivener.

Translation: I must unlearn what I have learned. Thank you Master mbbntu!

That’s a really good idea. I’m going to play around with that.

Actually, I’m a psychologist by training, and there is a great deal of evidence that a significant obstacle to learning new things is previous experience. In particular, people make assumptions about the way things are going to work that are based on what they know from the past. This causes endless problems in adapting to new software, when the assumptions often turn out to be mistaken. And often enough, the problems arise precisely because people don’t realise that they are making assumptions.

Good luck!

A martial arts teacher once told me that people usually know what they’re doing wrong and need to improve. It’s the things they’re doing right that cause problems for them. Learning is an iterative process, and “right” for beginners is not the same as for masters.


I’m a martial arts instructor and I would agree with that wholeheartedly.

It depends on what kind of learning one is talking about. There is quite a long article on Wikipedia dealing with the many types of learning. Too complex for a forum!