Dynamic chapter numbering in binder view

When writing books, I don’t tend to number chapters manually, but have them done in the compile once they’re properly ordered according to how I want them and I’m ready to compile. As a consequence, I have no idea what chapter number a chapter will actually be while I’m writing it.

When I send the compiled manuscript off to my editor, I will get comments back regarding chapter 4, something in chapter 9, the bottom of chapter 21… etc etc. I then have to look at the PDF, see which chapter that is, do a text search in Scrivener to find which chapter it actually is, then locate the bit she’s talking about.

What’d cut out all of that is if the binder view could have an option to number the chapters dynamically, i.e. the first one in the list will always be number 1, the second number 2 and so on. Moving chapter 21 up to the top would then make that chapter 1, and change the others. That way, when the editor mentions chapter 34, I can see instantly which she’s referring to. At the moment, my only other option is to manually number every chapter in the binder (and usually multiple times if I end up switching chapters about post-edit, which I often do).

Here is a workaround (not the solution you’re looking for): Make your Scrivener window a little narrower and open the table of contents of your compiled PDF in a second window (in Preview or Skim or some other PDF reader) sized to fit the open space to the left of your Scrivener window, so you can see the chapter numbers in that window and then select the appropriate chapter in Scrivener’s Binder.

That’s not really feasible as the line spacing between chapter numbers on the PDF is totally different to those in Scrivener, so none of them actually line up. Besides which, that’s fine for the first 20 or 30 chapters but mine tend to have anywhere between 50 and 120 chapters… That’s why dynamic chapter numbering would be so helpful :smiley:

Understood. Here’s another workaround idea (since I’m just a Scrivener user and not a developer): copy the table of contents from the PDF and paste into a text editor such as TextWrangler (free) that allows you to turn off text wrap. Resize the TextWrangler window and Scrivener window so that they are side by side. Do a search and replace in TextWrangler to remove any extra line spacing between chapter numbers. In the Scrivener binder, select Collapse All so that you’re only seeing the top level chapter headers. Adjust the font size in TextWrangler so that it’s exactly the same as the text size (and even the same font) in Scrivener’s Binder. Now the chapter list in TextWrangler looks exactly the same as the one in Scrivener’s Binder, and they line up exactly.

That’d probably work better, but wouldn’t save me a whole lot of time… just as inelegant as me jabbing my finger at the screen to count chapters :laughing:

It’s not really practical for the binder to show chapter numbers as they appear in Compile, because the flexibility of Compile means that chapter numbering can be done in all sorts of ways at all sorts of levels, and the prefix settings used to add chapter numbering can be used for all sorts of things - Scrivener does know they are chapter numbers. Also, Compile doesn’t have to be incredibly fast, but displaying the binder does, and trying to parse all of the compile information to show chapter numbers could be seriously slow, given that it has to take into consideration the fact that chapters can be moved around. In other words, just as you don’t have any idea what chapter number a chapter will be while writing it, Scrivener doesn’t know what chapter it will be until it is compiled.

However, something like your suggestion for dynamic numbering is coming, although only in the outliner, not the binder. That should do what you want, though, as you can just load the Draft in the outliner and use “selection affects other editor” so that clicking on items in the outliner opens the document in the other editor. Even that depends on how you structure your project, though. The only sensible way of dynamically showing numbers in a hierarchy is as 1, 1.1, 1.2, 2, 2.1 and so on, so it depends whether that system will work with the way you structure your manuscript. If chapters are at the top level, or if they are numbered differently within each part if you use parts, it should work well, though.

Great, thanks :slight_smile:

I have exactly the same wish as AdamC but for a slightly different reason. While editing, I often search for a particular term. The Search Results shows me the documents (scenes) where this word occurs. When I hover over one in the list, it shows the Project/Folder/Subfolder/Document names (in the example: Aquila/Act 2/13 Discord/Flirt. See Search_results.png)Search_results.png But these are numbers I entered explicitly and they become erroneous if I add or resequence the chapters (folders).
It would be great if I could give my chapters headers without numbers, and the numbers would be generated automagically in the binder view, as they are when I compile the project. (See Binder.png)Binder.png

Hi Keith,

You can add another count for the wish for dynamic numbering.

It’s probably a silly suggestion that would cause Scrivener to slow down as you’ve explained, but is it something that could be extended from Show Subdocument Counts. That is to say, it already counts the number of subdocuments in a folder, could the count be extended to each subdocument so that its number in the count (a circular 1,2,3 etc.) shows up for each document within the folder?

Having this functionality would save me oodles of time!

Thanks and Happy New Year!


Please see my answer above for why this isn’t possible and won’t be implemented. As explained there, it’s not so much speed as the fact that Compile is so flexible and can have so many meanings that it’s not really possible to reflect its settings (she as the intended numbering) in the binder without running a full compile all the time.

All the best,