File vs folder and document

New to Scrivener have some confusion.
Using the Novel format, I saw that it automatically creates Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.
Not sure how that works so I set up text and manually named each the appropriate chapter.
How then does that work automatically and should they be folders instead of text files albeit with the same headings and

What, in fact, in Scrivener, is the exact difference between Files, Folders and Documents?

I moved my my manuscript into Scrivener, so how do I format the entire project at once such as all paragraphs flush left, spacing between lines and paragraphs, and fonts and sizes?

I have a Mac.

Thank you.

Have you been through the Interactive Tutorial? It’s available from the Help menu, and addresses the significant differences between Scrivener and most other writing software.

Automatic chapter numbering is done through the Compile command. If you prefer to number chapters yourself, you can, but then you’ll need to disable that function to avoid duplicate numbers. See the Tutorial for more information.

Scrivener’s built-in Compile formats generally assume that you use Folders for top-level elements like chapters, and Files for scenes within those chapters. You can use a different structure if you prefer but, again, you’ll need to change the default Compile settings accordingly.

Commands on the Format menu allow you to define the font, the line spacing, and so on. Use those to format a paragraph how you want, then use the Project -> Project Settings -> Formatting command to set that formatting as the default for a particular project. Use Scrivener -> Preferences -> Editing -> Formatting to set Scrivener-wide defaults. (Note that project-level formatting will override the Scrivener default.) Then, use the Documents -> Convert -> Text to Default Formatting to normalize existing text to the new format.


I have seen the Tutorial. That and the manual still left me wondering.

I thought I could get another perspective here. Should I convert my text files, which I call Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and so forth into folders? I don’t write in scenes, but in Chapters.

And, what is the difference between files and folders here?

I thought compile is for when you’re ready to assemble a mss for submission??

Thank you for your response.

In Scrivener, the distinction between “files” and “folders” is somewhat artificial, as both can contain text and both can have things nested under them. Some aspects of the interface, including the Compile command, treat folders as “containers” and files as standalone documents by default. For example, a folder might load its contents in Scrivenings mode by default, while a file will not. But if you already have files, there’s no need to convert them.

Yes, the Compile command is used to assemble the complete manuscript. To give you maximum flexibility while you write, many aspects of formatting – including chapter numbering and pagination – are best handled via the Compile command.


At the very top of the project you created from a template, you will find a help file. Within the section “Making Changes” look for the bullet point on “Working with chapters instead of scenes”. That checklist will walk you through the steps necessary to convert from a chapter/scene structure to a chapter-only structure. If you’ve been through the tutorial’s help on Section Types and Layouts then you shouldn’t find anything too confusing in these instructions. (Hint, use the Navigate ▸ Open ▸ as Quick Reference menu command to pop these instructions out into a window, so you can follow along while working in settings.)

I would definitely recommend that approach. I see a lot of people who don’t write in scenes just use folders anyway, and end up with 30 folders each with one single file in them, needlessly complicating their use of the software. It would be much easier to have 30 simple files in a flat list.