Font style sheets

Hey there,

I am pretty new to Scrivener, bought it yesterday and worked through the whole tutorial since then.
Though it covered a huge amount of useful stuff, the whole formatting section kind of came a little short for me.
I understand that Scrivener is rather a tool to write manuscripts instead of fully formated finished products, but there’s still an issue that I found and would like to address.

Since I am so new here, I’d be glad if anyone could - should this functionality already be implemented - tell me how to use it. Otherwise I’d be glad to know whether it can be implemented and/or whether it is planned for furture versions.

What I want to do is to create custom font style sheets which one can assign to certain text sections/paragraphs/words such that the editor actually remembers that this text is formatted following the given style sheet rules.
I have already found the Format > Formatting > … menu and played around with the presets. This is basically what I want, except that if I change a preset after having formatted some text with it, all text that was once in that preset stays the way it is, and doesn’t get updated with the preset change.
I’d also like it if one can then in the compilation menu assign default formatting for each style sheet / preset.

In my novel, I do have a lot of dialogue that is only thought, and several characters talk to each other mentally, so I used to differentiate between them with different font settings. But with MS Word I had a lot of trouble in exactly this aspect. Their style sheet function is horrendously buggy, which is why I was searching for an alternative editor in the first place.

I’d be glad to receive feedback/answers!


I’m not a native English speaker. If I’m committing some serious mistakes, feel free to point them out to me.
Since I plan on writing my novel in English, I can only profit from feedback. :smiley:

Hi Norvu,

Welcome to the board and to Scivener!

I am a user of the Windows version, so I might be wrong, but based on your post I believe you have already uncovered Mac Scrivener’s current formatting capabilities. (But you might want to peek in the manual just to be sure.)

The next version of Scrivener will be 3.0, will be released sometime this year for Mac, and will apparently contain some form of style sheet capability.

You may want to follow the developer’s blog, as Keith promised a series of blog posts on the coming features of the new release.

Hope that helps,

Thanks a lot.
Is there any announcement yet on how soon we can expect Scrivener 3?

Hi Norvu,

Literature and Latte are being very tight-lipped about the release date. I don’t know and I don’t expect anyone outside of the L&L team will know anything more specific than what was in the blog post: “We’re finalising the updated manual and preparing for release later this year.”

Although that certainly hasn’t stopped folks from asking. :smiley:


Alright, guess we’ll just have to wait for it in that case.

Thanks for answering :slight_smile:

Style sheets? Oh, please let it be so!

I belong to two writers groups. One of them is capricious in its format requests, the other is pretty stable and forgiving.

It would be so nice to just swap one style sheet set for another to reformat according to the wishes of the day.

Here’s hoping style sheets are real in version 3.

You can already use Compile settings and Compile presets to reformat your output document for a particular destination.


Are there any examples of how this is done?

A number of different Compile presets ship with Scrivener and serve as examples of what’s possible.

Creating your own is simply a matter of setting the Compile up the way you want it, then scrolling down to Manage Compile Format Presets in the Format As: menu at the top of the Compile pane.

See Chapter 24 in the Scrivener manual for more information about the Compile command. Custom presets are discussed in section 24.5, and the use of the Formatting pane to change the appearance of your output document is covered in section 24.11.


I know about the style presets. They don’t serve the function of style sheets.

What I want is to define a style for normal text. Then I want to change the style and have that propagate through the document. Style presets are one-time settings. Change a preset after you’ve used it a dozen times, and none of the places where you used the preset change as you adjust the preset. Style sheets are rules for output - totally different animal.

When you change a style preset, nothing in your document changes. When you change a style sheet, in software that supports such things, everything using the preset changes to match.

Style sheets as you define them do not exist in the current version of Scrivener.



Your response leads me to believe you may have missed Katherine’s point.

You mention style presets, but she is talking about compile presets.

As she says here, in answer to the problem you raised in your first post —

— the compiler may solve your writers groups challenge. Have you looked into it?


What he is talking about is like CSS on the web. But that would only affect the way the document looked in Scrivener which I suppose could be useful from a user interface aesthetics point of view. But the important thing is how it looks after it is compiled. The sense I am getting from what you said earlier is that you can change the compile setting so that the compiled document looks however you want it to look.

Are their any videos that show how to do this?

There are compile tutorials in the video section:

Thank you.

Imagine a document that had code examples or some other format interspersed with the narrative.

In Nisus, I’d use the normal style for the narrative and other styles for the quoted sections, code examples, or whatever.

I can make different style sheet libraries with those named styles, each one formatted differently.

The document appears for print, production, or just plain editing based on which version of the styles I imported.

For example, imagine a document with:

Some paragraphs in italics.

Some paragraphs in bold.

Yet others are bold, italic, and underlined.

If Scrivener used style sheets, I could have StyleA, StyleB, and StyleC instead of those font variations. If I loaded a style sheet library with italic, bold, and bold/underline/italic for StyleA, StyleB, and StyleC, then my project would appear as initially written.

But if I loaded a style sheet that defined StyleA as Arial, StyleB as Courier, and StyleC as Wingdings - none of them italic, bold, or underlined - I would have all of them appear that way instead.

In an editor that supports style sheets, instead of setting some words italic, I could apply the character style “emphatic,” using Nisus terminology.

If I wanted to change the italicized words to bold face, it would be one change in the emphatic style, no changes in the document required.

In other words, if you have two different default font/paragraph types in Scrivener, you can’t control both separately at compile time.

Style sheets would be really cool. That would put a better boundary between content creation and content appearance.

Maybe I just overthink things, but style sheets are the way to control output formatting, in my opinion. I hope Version 3 supports them.

We all understand what style sheets are already.

What you may be missing (and that others have tried to explain) is that Scrivener already decouples content from appearance via the Compile mechanism.

You can use the editor to create a project where each document’s settings are different (copy and paste text from various Web pages, create your own, etc.). And yes, currently, the editor uses style presets, and this is what will be changing in Scrivener 3, we are told.

You then use Compile to enforce a consistent set of settings across your documents, based on the structure. Compile is what creates your final PDF, DOCX, RTF, etc. You can create multiple custom compile presets as well – these essentially act as your stylesheet.

With Scrivener today, I can take that disjointed project with all the differently styled documents and create a single, unified set of settings on the output document – just what a style sheet is supposed to do. I can have different Compile presets created so I can take that same source project and compile it into different settings/styles depending on what my needs are.

You can already work around the style presets today by learning and using Compile.

There are still cases where proper styles in the editor (think of them as consistent semantic containers) could enable a more elegant separation between content and appearance during compile too — Scrivener 3 is getting a proper styles system anyway, so all this should hopefully be a moot point soon… 8)

Agreed. I used to write in DocBook, so that separation in Scrivener is none too firm, but it is there, just in a non-traditional manner. :slight_smile: