Formating all files?

  1. due to various files in different formats – my fonts, font spacing, letterspacing and line height is variable. Is there a way to format all typography so there is a consistent look through every document?

  2. I would like to write in markdown and I was wondering if anyone else has composed the majority of their work in this format. If so – is there a recommended methodology?

Thank you in advance for any ideas or suggestions. :question:

Regarding your point 2, there is a small but dedicated and enthusiastic group of us! I’ve used markdown in Scrivener for years.

There is no real secret to using markdown (MD) in Scrivener, but I do the following:

  • Show invisible characters (I change their colour in Preferences to make them subtle but visible). This is because MD is sensitive to whitespace.
  • Use whitespace consistently: For a new paragraph I always use [space][space][return][return]. It is automatic for me and showing invisible characters makes potential formatting issues when compiling simple to fix.
  • I use formatting presets to visualise MD structure in Scrivener (block quotes, code blocks, lists, tables, figure captions). I map these formatting presets to key-bindings in System Preferences to make it quick to apply. This doesn’t get compiled, it is just a visual convenience (I like good typography so my formatting presets use font combinations that appeal to me).
  • Use the Binder for all document structure. I try not to not use ##Headings## within the text itself but form my document hierarchy in the Binder. Scrivener is great at compiling MD headings from Binder structure.

I also prefer to use Pandoc to do my post processing (I compile to Markdown alone and then use scripts to generate my output documents), but it is not necessary for most users.

EDIT: regarding your point 1, not sure if there is a better way, but if you map a key-binding in System Preferences to a formatting preset (e.g. I use ⌘⌥1 for “Normal” preset), at least you can quickly convert the selection/paragraph to a consistent style. Scrivener doesn’t use a proper styles system (yet) so I think this needs to be done per document. You can make formatting presets that preserve bold/italic if that is a concern).

If you mean that you would like to ensure that your documents are in the same size font, with the same paragraph spacing and so on, then there is a way. But be aware that if you want to preserve some elements of formatting (e.g. for quotations), you’ll have to take special steps to preserve them, as these are overriden during the process.

The basic process is to define the default look of each document basic paragraph: you can do this in two places.

  1. In Preferences > Formatting: this will define the basic ruler and paragraph used in any new documents in this and all other projects.
  2. In Project > Text Preferences. Tick the ‘Use different formatting…’ box and the settings here will be used in new documents for this project only – other projects won’t be affected and will continue to use the settings from 1) above.

The easiest way to proceed is to create a new document and type in some dummy text. Then format it exactly the way you want it: font and size, alignment, line spacing, tabs, paragraph spacing etc etc. (Remember, this is the default paragraph only, not special formatting for titles, quotations etc).

When it’s the way you want it, with the dummy document still selected in the Binder, choose either the Preferences > Formatting or Project > Text Preferences menu items. Each of them has a button to ‘Use Current’ (slightly different wording in each). Click this and the dummy text in the dialogue box will change to reflect your dummy document formatting. So now every new document you create will reflect your basic paragraph formatting.

Finally, convert the old documents to the new default formatting by selecting them in the Binder and choosing Documents > Convert > Convert Formatting to Default Text Style… This will give you the option to convert only the font, or to preserve alignment, tabs and so on.

NB this is a fairly destructive process as everything will be reset to the basic paragraph style and it’s possible to lose some formatting that you’d prefer to keep. For example, quotations. You can overcome this by selecting the quotations one by one and choosing Format > Formatting > Preserve Formatting – it will then not be affected by the document conversion. But test it first!

That’s the basic process: easier to do than to describe. Test it on a few documents first to make sure you’ve understood how the conversion process works (or take a copy of your project and work on the copy!).


thank you. This is incredibly helpful.

This is a little tricky. I have a separate markdown writer that may simplify my process. Where do I find invisible characters and spaces and how do I create color to show these?

Would you share your formatting presets? I’ve never dug this deep into customization.

Menu > Options > Show/Hide Invisibles[1]

Their default colour may already be fine for you, but if you wish to change it: Preferences > Appearance > Customizable Colors > Editor > Invisible Characters

Regarding the formatting presets, all my presets use fonts you will not have available, so you’ll not be able to test them. Here is an example screenshot, showing block quote, list and figure caption (note the [space][space][return][return] after each block, > for blockquote, use of 1. 2. etc for the markdown list, for figure caption):

I’ve used Format > Font and Format > Text > Tabs and Indents to layout each block as I want (I indent quotes, lists and figure captions and mix a serif and sans serif font as needed). Then I use Format > Formatting > New Preset from Selection to create formatting presets (I save all formatting info to the preset) giving each a clear name. Then in System Preferences I add a key binding to each name assigned:

Honestly I see no need for a dedicated markdown editor, markdown is plain text! I own the excellent Multimarkdown Composer by the author of multimarkdown, and while it is good to check layout, Scrivener has everything you need to actually write markdown. Some people use Marked 2 to view the formatted markdown (check equations etc.), and it is an excellent tool, but not necessary.

And Scrivener 3 which is hopefully coming soon is supposed to contain a full style system, making presets even more powerful. It may also make compilation more powerful if we could use styles to change structure etc.

[1] General tip: very useful keymapping for any macOS application is Help > Search which will find any option in the menu by name — press ⌘⇧? and then start typing “invisible” and it will show you where it is.

Thank you for the detailed response. You really have an expert grasp on this program and this information is invaluable. I believe it will take me a while to incorporate your knowledge into my workflow.

I’m utilizing the program to structure copywriting for an iOS app – while simultaneously collecting research for a possible dissertation. This program is incredibly versatile. Thank you again for the markdown instruction. I usually write in markdown and organize in folders – but this is a far better solution than my current workflow.

Yes, Scrivener’s versatility is amazing! I’m learning stuff all the time about new tricks (like Brookter’s reply, I know about the default text style, but didn’t think remember about Convert Formatting to Default Text Style…). 8)