Converting Outline in the Outliner to a Chaptered Manuscript

Hello All,

Scrivener is my go-to for writing unless a client says otherwise. I discovery wrote my first novel here and have ventured into outlining the new one. After a bruised knuckle discussion with the in-text outlining tools, I revised y approach and used the Outliner. There are many features I love about it, but now I’m curious how I turn that into chapters.

If I have to cut and paste each Title and Synopsis, and notes into each chapter document in the binder, I’m going to get all sorts of unhappy.

My outline is clear in Outliner mode, I can see the cards in Corkboard mode view, but I see nothing when I switch to Scrivenings mode. Just a series of dashed lines delineating the outline entries (I assume).

Is there an elegant solution to write the Outliner outline into a manuscript, as one would in any word processing software?


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 how the Outliner interacts with the Editor.

You can use the Documents → Auto-Fill → Append Synopsis to Main Text command to move the synopsis text you see in the Outliner into the body text documents. You may or may not want to do that, though, depending on whether you expect the synopsis text to become part of your finished manuscript.

If you simply want to see the Outline while you write, you might prefer to split the Editor pane, using the View → Editor Layout menu. The Navigate → Binder Selection Affects and → Outliner Selection Affects menus define what appears in which pane of a split Editor.


If you write the synopsis in the main editing window and leave the synopsis box on the sidebar blank, you should see what you want.

The beginning text of the main document will become the outline text and the text visible in the index cards.

You do lose the ability to use the shorter synopsis field for a summary, which hasn’t been much of a problem for me.

First off, thank you for the replies.

This isn’t reassuring to read. It seems that the three views would all contain the same information: Scrivenings, Corkboard, and Outliner. Select view, see identical content in one of the three options.

Unless there’s a secret feature available, It seems my best bet is to copy and paste the content of the entire outline (including titles) into an external word processing document; format it back into an outline, then cut and paste each section into individual Scrivener chapter documents. Far from the efficiency I hoped using the tool would offer.

Hopefully, one day, this can become a feature of Scrivener.


It seems we lost that last post.

Well, I’ve read through the tutorial, and unfortunately, my favorite writing program (Scrivener) does not offer this simple feature.

I don’t want to toggle back and forth between views once my outline is set. All I want is a textual version of the outline I can write over and into chapters of my manuscript.

This means cutting and pasting the entirety of the Outliner content into a word processing program that has a more robust outline/list tool to reformat it. Then copy and paste these chapters into individual chapter Scrviner docs to start the manuscript.

Exporting the Outline creates dozens of folders and files, not the Outliner content converted into a textual document. And Compiling it into a PDF is a series of pages with single lines and no formatting.

I’m truly bummed out. This is a big time suck. Lesson learned.

Thank you all for offering options,

Why doesn’t the AutoFill operation mentioned in my post work?

The Synopsis is separate from the body text by design.


Hi Katherine,

The method you tipped me of only copies the synopsis into the body; the titles are not there.

I can’t believe I’m the only writer who wants the outline they’ve delineated in the Outliner to convert to the actual chapter documents of the manuscript. Title equals ChapterTtitle, and all synopsis and nested elements of that section of the outline become a traditional outline.

1. Title
A. Lorum Ipsum
i. Lorum Ipsum
a. Lorum Ipsum

I wish I could explain it clearly. I have found the Outliner is great for moving pieces around but not so much for prose. The Document view is ideal for the actual writing. The fact that Scrivener’s Outliner content cannot directly convert into manuscript form is disappointing. The cumbersome workaround needed has me looking elsewhere after nearly a decade of use of what I touted as the penultimate writing tool. (I guess I should have tried being an outliner vs. a discovery writer long ago.)

I do appreciate your effort to help, but nothing suggested today comes close to the solution.

The Title you see in the Outline is the Title of the associated document. You can use the View → Text Editing → Show Titles in Scrivenings command to make it visible in the Editor if you want.

I am clearly misunderstanding what you are trying to do, because I don’t see the difficulty. Given your proposed outline:

  1. Title
    A. Lorum Ipsum
    i. Lorum Ipsum
    a. Lorum Ipsum

I would structure things so that 1., A., i., and a. were all documents in the Binder, nested to the appropriate depth. Then I would pull them all into a Scrivenings session with titles enabled (as above), and then I’d start writing. If I needed the Synopses in the body text, I would use the Auto-fill command I previously mentioned.

Alternatively, if you were starting from scratch, you could leave the Synopsis field blank and just type into the individual documents. Scrivener would use the first few lines of each document to auto-generate “temporary” synopses for use in the Outline and Corkboard views.


Hi Katherine,

Once again, thank you for your patience and insight.

The View → Text Editing → Show Titles in Scrivenings is a step forward. But the process and navigation are cumbersome to wrestle into a manuscript format. The inherent hierarchy of the outline is gone in the Scrivenings view, Which is a workflow impediment.

It would be great if a compiler would work with Outliner selectable labels that would show the folders with chapter documents in Scrivening view. The nestled elements in the Outliner chapters would now be in outline format (as in my previous post) and fully editable. Dare to dream.

Maybe this uncomfortable interface will drive me to power through the outlining phase and get to the bloody writing?

Thanks so much,

The format of the output document is a completely different matter, largely independent of the Editor formatting. That’s what the Compile command is for.

Wishing you all success in your writing,