Confused about adding page links for subtitles in Table of Contents

Apologies if this is a basic question, but I’m still pretty new to Scrivener.

I’m trying to compile my document as a PDF (MLA format, if that matters). I’ve set up a table of contents, and it’s fine for all of the specific chapters, with each chapter as a different section within the body. But I also want to add subtitles within each chapter to the table of contents.

I guess all I need to do is copy the subtitle into the table of contents, and then add a <$p> field to link to that subtitle - but I can’t figure out how to create that page numbering placeholder. Or is that field limited to the “top” of a section? Do I need something different for a subsection that isn’t on a new page?

I assume part of my problem is unfamiliarity with Scrivener vocabulary - I keep digging into bookmarks and links, but those seem to be … not what I want?

Thanks for any help.

You can only add page links to the tops of documents in your project, so to add a page link to subtitles within your chapters, the subtitled sections need to be contained in a separate section inside Scrivener. They do not need to start a new page in the exported document - the section just needs to be in its own document in the binder. Then you just create a document link (Edit > Link to Document) that points to the document to the <$p> tag.

If you need a little more guidance, feel free to post a sample project showing the sort of thing you are trying to do, and I’ll be happy to point out exactly what the project needs. (You can zip up a project and attach it here using the “Attachments” tab beneath the reply box. As this will be public, it’s best to attach a project that just has some lorem ipsum or random text with personal information stripped out.)

All the best,

Thanks - OK, I think I see. Right now each chapter (of a dissertation) is a separate “Text Section” inside the Body. So if I want to get the subtitles of the chapters to appear in the table of contents, I need to further separate the chapters into several new “Text Sections”. Is that right?

(As I said, I’m still pretty new to Scrivener, so I suspect I’m missing something about how I can choose to view the whole dissertation, versus one chapter at a time, versus one section at a time. It’s still weird to me that, when I look at “Main Content”, it’s empty, as is “Body”, but then in the next level down there’s tons of stuff.)

Hmm. Perhaps that separation is more trouble than it’s worth to me at the moment - I like having each chapter as one section, and I also set up the compiling process to add page breaks with every new section. Since I’ve only got three or four subtitles total, I think I’ll try to do the table of contents in the rather counter-intuitive way of compiling the whole PDF, seeing what pages those subtitles appear on, typing in a hard number, and then compiling the PDF again. (And making sure I revise that in future!)

A typical structure is to put chapters in folders and sections in documents beneath each folder. This makes projects easy to navigate and restructure when writing, as well as intuitive when compiling and reading afterwards.

A table of contents in a PDF (or ebook etc) created by Scrivener can be dynamic if read electronically: the reader clicks on a link in the contents and is taken to the relevant page. If you fudge the contents page, I think that some of your links simply won’t work as the pages don’t exist until the compile process is complete and the links won’t actually point anywhere (you can easily test this, of course).

If you want to see a chapter or your entire thesis as a contiguous document, select the chapter or thesis in the Binder and then switch on Scrivenings mode, rather than single-document mode. … s?os=macOS

Of course, the user is omnipotent, so you can orchestrate your work as suits you best, but the structural and compile tools can be mighty powerful and user-friendly if you make use of Scrivener’s inherent capabilities.

D’oh! Yup, that’s the kind of thing that I really should know already, and somehow missed in my too-quick tour of the functions.

Sort of like how I kept trying to puzzle out why there wasn’t a search field, and Command-F seemed surprisingly limited, and oh wait, there’s that search box on the left side of the window.

What I’ve done: I’ve changed the chapters with subsections into folders, and then put each section in its own section inside the folder. That is now giving me the headings that I want in the Table of Contents. The complication is that I needed to go through and add a bunch of page breaks at the end of each chapter, and get rid of the page-breaks-between-sections that I’d turned on in the compile options. I assume there’s some way I can set up “Chapters” with page breaks at the end, and “Sub-Chapters” that don’t have page breaks at the end, but for the moment just adding page breaks seemed faster.

Now I just need to figure out why the table of contents format seems to keep changing …


Yes, page breaks and separators are all handled in the “Separators” area of the Compile format editor. You would want it set up so that there are page breaks before your chapter folders but not between your sections. For this you might use a Section Type (set up in Project Settings") for “Chapter” and another for “Section”, and make sure your folders and text files are assigned the right ones. Then, in Compile, you Assign Section Layouts to the Section Types, so that you can tell Compile to put page breaks between “Chapter” items (e.g. folders) but not before “Section” items (e.g. text documents).

All the best,