Creating a preface

I have a revised draft using the Novel (with parts) template. My writer’s group has suggested that what is now Chapter 1 be set up as a preface instead. I have found instructions from Bobby Treat on his Evernote site ( … bdd9bdb789), but am wondering if there is a more straightforward approach. Thanks in advance for any guidance.

  1. Go to Project > Project Settings.
  2. In "Section Types, add a new type (the “+” button on the top right).
  3. Name the new section type “Preface”.
  4. Select the chapter folder you want to change to be the preface in the binder.
  5. Rename it to “Preface” (or “Prologue” or however you want it titled).
  6. In the Inspector, switch to the metadata pane (the tag icon) and select “Preface” under “Section type:”.

Now you have told Scrivener that your chapter should be a preface instead of a regular chapter heading.

Next, you just need to assign a different Section Layout to your “Preface” type during Compile. For instance:

  1. Go to File > Compile… Let’s say you have “Print” selected at the top and “Manuscript (Times)” selected on the left.
  2. Click on “Assign Section Layouts…” at the bottom.
  3. Select “Preface” on the left.
  4. Select the “Heading” Section Layout on the right (notice it only says “Section Title” in the preview title).
  5. Click “OK”.

You have now told Scrivener that for the “Times (Manuscript)” format you would like “Preface” sections only to show the document title (you don’t want “Chapter N” before it).

You can then compile.

You would need to repeat this last set of steps for each format you want to compile to. For instance, suppose you want to compile to ePub 3:

  1. Go to File > Compile…
  2. Ensure “ePub 3” is selected at the top and “Ebook” on the left.
  3. Click on “Assign Section Layouts…”.
  4. Select “Preface” on the left.
  5. Select “Heading (Bordered)” on the right.

Now, suppose you want the preface to be before Part One (which you probably do):

  1. Drag the “Preface” folder above the first part folder.
  2. With the “Preface” folder selected in the binder, click on “Section type:” in the Inspector again (which we set to “Preface”).
  3. This time, under where it says “Default Subdocument Type”, choose “Scene”.

This tells your “Preface” folder that text documents inside it should be treated (and formatted) as scenes. This is necessary because by moving the preface folder up to the same level as part folders, the text documents inside it could be treated as individual chapters otherwise, because of the way the template is set up.

So, in short, the process is:

  1. Use Section Types to tell Scrivener that the folder is a “Preface”.
  2. In Compile, use “Assign Section Layouts” to tell Scrivener how to format your “Preface” section for any given Compile Format.
  3. If required (and it probably is), move your Preface folder up above the first part folder and, again using Section Type settings, ensure that its subdocuments are treated as scenes.

Hope that helps.

All the best,

Thanks for your post on prefaces, Keith. I found it useful. I guess most people using Scrivener are writers and, by definition, think in words. You give your answer in words and, for me, that’s what works.

This is excellent. Thank you.