Folders vs nested documents

This isn’t something I need to know, but I’m curious: what’s the difference between making a folder and nesting a document under another document (by dragging)? I’m wondering why both options exist.


The idea is mainly flexibility and visual differentiation. There isn’t much real difference (the differences are discussed in the Help file, though). It’s just another visual aid to help structure the draft, really. And of course, you can convert folders into text containers and vice versa, which means you never have to decide in advance whether a file should be a folder or a text file.

Hey, the help file. Fancy that. Thanks.

As far as I know there is no functional difference - other than the fact that folders have their export flags off by default.
You can even choose a preference to treat all documents with children as folders, thereby switching to outline or corkboard view when you select them, again an option.
So the difference is largely a visual metaphor that some of us find useful. I for instance will mark subsections of a document as a “file” and a collection of notes for that document as a “folder” .The latter and its contents are not checkmarked for export, so an Edit Scrivenings section can (using the ES icons submenu) show just my text, just my notes, or both.

Use files and folders any way you like.

Hope that helps.


Looks like you got it all sorted out. There is a quick overview in the FAQ, titled “I have noticed that Folders can contain text and meta-data just like documents can, what is the difference between the two?”.

So you’re saying it’s in the help file and the FAQ? It seems like there should be a handy four-letter acronym for this situation. :slight_smile:


One difference that might be useful would be the ability to resrict searches to folders or documents only. Then users could decide for themselves what distinction to make between the two and use search to narrow things down.


The explanation in the FAQ is clear, yet I don’t think it will ever come to my mind to create a folder that actually is a document. In my opinion, a folder should only contain documents: it should never be a document itself. I find this behaviour of Scrivener rather counter-intuitive, to be honest: in my feeling, it is violating some basic principle of logic. In the paper age, it would never have come to my mind to write on a folder something different from a title indicating its content; and the same holds true for the electronic age.

But many people seem to be happy with this feature, and those who are not, can still treat folders as folders. So there is no reason to complain at all!

I do it all the time. The folder contains the chapter heading and a synopsis, then it’s containing documents contain all the scenes. Really, really useful. As far as I can tell, no-other app allows for this kind of flexibility.

Absolutely. In fact, I would say that Scrivener lets me get closer to the paper world than most other applications because of this. Maybe I am just a wild maniac, but I write on envelopes; I fold papers in half and turn them into folders; sticky notes all over everything, folders and documents alike; index cards attached to any surface that is so inclined to be gripped by a paper clip; colour “tags” made with markers; you name it – and Scrivener has an analogue for nearly every one of those.