Formatting presets during compile

I just finished writing my first short report with Scrivener. I want to like the program, but there are some things I can’t seem to get done with it. Or perhaps I’m just not using it the right way.

I created each chapter of the report as a separate text document within the Scrivener file. Since each chapter is just a page or two long I didn’t see a point in breaking them down further. Each document contains body text, bullets and some sub-headers, which I formatted in the editor using the formatting presets. Everything looked fine on the editor window.

However, I ran into problems during compilation. When I click the override formatting box the compiler wipes out all the sub-header styling info. So my sub-headers look the same as body text. Why does the editor window allow me to apply style presets if they are wiped out during compilation?

I could leave the override formatting box unticked, but that seems to defeat the purpose of the compiler. Now I have to go over each and every document and make sure they have identical formatting. Also, if I want to change some of the styling presets Srivener doesn’t seem to update the styling in the editor window. So I have to manually update each paragraph to match the updated preset.

It seems that my only option is to break the document further from each sub-heading? That way I could apply unique styling to the sub-headers. Is there no other way to achieve this? Why not just allow the user to preserve or restyle the presets from the editor?

And what about blockquotes and other such specially styled elements? How should I handle these in the editor?

I played with this further and splitting the document further at sub-headings solves the problem. And also brings up new questions.

When I compile to report to MS Word it seems Scrivener doesn’t create any style tags. Yes, the headings etc. are formatted properly but they all have ‘Normal’ style applied in Word. So it seems I have to go over the document again to apply all the style tags in Word (or other page layout program). And presumably I have to do the same again when I compile the report for ePub.

So my questions is, what’s the point of applying styles in Scrivener if that data is just discarded and I have to do it again in other programs?

Is there something I’m missing? I went over the manual but couldn’t find anything to address this issue. I want to like the program but if I have to reapply the style tags again in other programs, I don’t really see the point of using Scrivener. The whole point of using it so that I could use the same text and just compile to different formats - without the hassle of having to restyle the document.

The main thing to understand is that these are called “formatting presets” and not “styles” because they are not styles. Scrivener does not support true styles at the moment, and therefore there is no live updating of these presets nor any style information about them in the exported document. Formatting presets are more like “brushed on” formatting. They allow you save a bunch of formatting - bold, paragraph indent and so on - and apply them to a section of text without having to call on each formatting command individually. But that’s all they are, nothing more.

True styles are on the agenda for the next major iteration of Scrivener (Scrivener 3.0), but that’s a while off yet.

Why? If you have taken care to format the text in the editor exactly as you want it to appear, then you almost certainly shouldn’t choose to override the text formatting. Remember that this option (“Override text and notes formatting” only applies to the main text and notes of a document. You can still choose how titles and such are formatted during the Compile stage. The whole point of this option is for those who don’t want to worry about formatting in the editor, and instead want to determine what font and paragraph formatting should be used only during the export/print stage. In your case, you are worrying about the formatting in the editor, and therefore would not want to use this option. (When we do introduce styles, you will be able to determine whether to override each style and how via Compile. This will provide the best of both worlds.)

One other option, if you want to use “Override formatting” for most of the text but just have certain sections of text that use a different formatting, is to use “Preserve Formatting” from the Format > Formatting menu. When applied to a section of text, this tells the compiler not to touch that range of text.

Hope that helps.

All the best,

Thanks for your reply, KB. Unfortunately, I don’t think Scrivener is the tool I need at the moment. As I mentioned, I’d prefer to ‘tag’ certain portions of the text with styles and then format those styles as per target medium during compile. This doesn’t seem to be possible with Scrivener at the moment, but this is exactly the way Ulysses works.

From my point of view the main problem with Scrivener is that the compiled RTF doesn’t actually contain styles Word or other word processors understand. So I have to apply the styles again at the target app. For me, this defeats the purpose of Scrivener.