How can i have page numbers before i compile?

I am working on my second draft and want to be able to refer to a certain page in my manuscript while i’m taking notes for the second draft, so i have a fixed reference point. Is this possible?

I would hesitate to say that you can. It is possible with the View/Page View/Show Page View editor mode to simulate pages, and so long as the content in your editor precisely matches the output, it should be fairly accurate, but you may need to make a few tweaks to your settings if you wish to use it for this type of thing, mentioned on page 233 of the user manual.

Personal preference, but I think in most cases it will be easier to just search for the phrases that need to be fixed with Project Search. That is what I do—there is no way I could reconcile accurate page numbers out of most of my projects (which look radically different from the editor), and besides I’ve been working that way for many years before Scrivener, so I never got used to the notion of working in an environment that precisely matches what comes out of the printer. I don’t know if that’s any better or worse, but it has meant I’ve never really felt the need to know a page number for a work in progress.

Nope. Scrivener’s just not designed to give you a WYSIWYG view of the text without compiling it. Maybe there’s another approach you could use, however. First, do you prefer note taking in a particular medium? For instance, you could take your notes in Scrivener, using Inspector Comments to mark specific parts of your text and make notes about them. Document Notes for more general notes on a scene would be helpful as well, as would be the synopsis pane if you don’t need to keep what’s already in there. Do you compile to PDF and read on a tablet? If so, you could annotate directly into the PDF, and then import that back into Scrivener or just open it and Scriv side-by-side when needed.

If you want to make notes on paper, away from the computer, then you’ll need to take another tack, but I’d need more info on your note-taking style to give any concrete advice. For instance, how do you take the notes? Is your manuscript on paper? Do you put your notes in the margins of your paper manuscript/use sticky notes, or use a separate notebook/note cards/etc…?

You could also get really fancy with the compile settings and number your paragraphs, so that you could make a note like CH1,scene3,par17, and then use “Format->Options->Show Line Numbers” in Scrivener when you’re back to the computer. I don’t know if the numbers would match up though; you’d have to experiment.

And, of course, in order for a reference-by-page-number plan to be useable at all, you would need to enter all your edits from back to front, in order not to destroy the page number association as you type.

I would just make sure that my draft was broken up into non-epic chunks, and then for editing output compile to a form that included the doc titles along the way. Using those for ref when I came back to the project would get me close enough.


As a form of feedback I would like to say that I really don’t like the lack of page numbering before compiling. I’m new to the program so I still have to develop an efficient way to work with it (staying up nights to do the tutorial :smiley: ) but the project I wanted to import is more than 260,000 words and my next project will be of the same size, so page numbers are a way for me to aid my composition.
If there would ever be a way to incorporate that (probably with a choice for the user) that might be a very good idea.
You be the judge.

If you think about the ‘philosophy’ that underlies Scrivener’s working, it’s quite hard to see how page numbers before compilation could be made to work - at least ones that are accurate enough to be worth using. Compiling can add so much in terms of formatting and layout that pre-compile page numbers could mean very little.

It would be better to use Scrivener’s inline annotation tool (although I’ve no idea whether that functionality is active on the Linux edition yet - if not, it will be).

It’s the paradigm shift. It seems to me that most of the requests for things like page numbers, style sheets and so on come from people who’ve just moved from WYSIWIG programs like Word, which mimic the paper output and therefore can comparatively easily assign page numbers.

A program that allows you to create your text in many flexible ways including allowing you to put every single sentence in its own document, makes the concept of page numbers before compiling somewhat nebulous. I would imagine that to achieve that, the program would have to compile in the background on a continuous basis, which would slow the program would slow to unusability.

My 2¢.

EDITED once.

Of course, Scrivener can give you estimated page counts (with adjustable words/page parameters) and there is (local) pagination in Page Layout view as well, but these are not meant to be more than approximate.


One of the supreme beauties of Scrivener is that no matter how long your project – especially for a long project – you can break it up into meaningful chunks and as small of chunks as you like, and yet at a moment’s notice see any span of those chunks as one continuous piece of text (and compile it likewise).

If you have a large project and are not breaking it down into sizeable, meaningful units (folders & documents), then you are not taking real advantage of what Scrivener does. And if you /are/ breaking things down like that, I think you will quickly find your felt need for WYSIWWC* page numbers disappear.


  • WYSIWWC = “what you see is what will compile”

[size=50]Having said that, if someone did want to, say, print off a portion of their draft to manually edit, and then rely on page numbers to index their way back into the scriv documents, I wonder if they could not effectively tweak their settings in such a way that the result of using Print Current Document applied to a scrivening would give the same pagination results as Page Layout view on the same scrivening.

Maybe doable? Just a thought.


EDIT: Geez, Ioa already addressed this way back where.

Thanks for the valuable reactions Hugh, Mr X formerly known as Mark and gr.
My first project (that I mentioned earlier) was created in libreoffice, so a ‘real’ word processor.
As you will understand a size of 260,000 words (last time I bore you with that number) required an almost rigid discipline to avoid losing track of things. Exactly why I was looking for a tool like Scrivener.
I have yet to taste the freedom Scrivener will provide me with but the fear of letting go of my page number tool is still there.
Of course I can work with word counts. After all, the bigger your project, the more you can trust the average number of words per page and per chapter etc.
I’ll see how things go and if I feel I settled down in a new way of working I’ll report back here.

A big thing that will help is cutting things down to a size where it is meaningful to you, so that you can be reading a section in the printout and just know how to get there. For some people that’s a chapter, for other people it is scenes or even further. Other word processors do have an outliner feature, but they are kind of a bother to use for the “invisible” organisation of a book. Scrivener’s outline on the other hand is an integral part of how it is used, rather than a somewhat optional and arcane thing. So the idea is to use it heavily and in doing so, have a better understanding of the structure of your work, and be able to navigate around in it just by having an informative outline.

That all might not happen overnight, but it’s the kind of thing you gradually learn as you become more familiar with the software, and more familiar with your own work through it. That’s the idea anyway. :slight_smile:

This should really not be a debate. It is not a paradigm shift. Viewing page numbers in the editor should be a standard, default feature. It is common sense. More importantly, it is hugely helpful to writers…which is the whole point I thought.

Why? Because so much of writing is about the feedback/revision loop. If I give someone 300 pages to read and they mark it up, it means making small edits on 300 individual pages. Searching for a key phrase every time is an absolute nightmare. It would be infinitely more efficient to go to the exact page they marked up, fix it, and move on.

I love the organizational tools in scriniver but hate how over-engineered it is. Simple features are missing or deeply hidden. There are simple things that I still cannot figure out even after spending hours, days, weeks searching the internet for answers. This topic is yet another example. I get really tired of searching for answers on problems about scriniver and only finding long rationales on why it shouldn’t change, instead of short, easy answers. It’s exhausting. Any time I gained on the organizational side is lost trying to troubleshoot common sense crap.

Other examples include:
…mechanism to share, edit and write online
…formating consistency is an absolute nightmare (too many different ways to control it, which conflict).
…pgh spacing, font color, etc is intentionally painful
…spell check is sad
…numbering and bullet points are bad

Sorry to rant :slight_smile:. It’s just so frustrating. This is like the tenth problem that I’ve wasted hours trying to solve. I could do it in 3 clicks in any other program. I think the developers of this program need a major shift in perspective.

Switch to an app which gives you what you want: Word. And use something else for the research material, like Evernote.

If you don’t like the basic idea behind Scrivener, i.e not being wysiwyg, don’t use it! :wink:

If you gave me 300 undifferentiated pages to read, I’d kick it back to you and ask for Chapter and/or Section breaks first. No one reads 300 pages in a single chunk.

You would then, presumably, use Scrivener’s Document Split features to break it down into more manageable pieces. Which would, in turn, give you reference points for bringing my changes back in.


I thought editors pretty much want things in Word with track-changes anymore. Page numbers are entirely irrelevant at that point.

When it comes to printing chunks of things out and manually editing, it is indeed how things are broken up in the Binder that I use to locate myself – by chapter and section and within-doc by lead phrase of the paragraph.*

In my experience, page numbers are too transient for the purpose. You have to edit everything backwards in order to maintain page number references while you enter manual edits. It is just not ideal.


  • Yet another reason to set your default paragraph in the editor with line spacing between paragraphs.

If your editor would be willing to tolerate them, try the Insert links back to Scrivener in each section setting, in the General Options tab of compile overview. The secondary option is noiser, but safer in that it won’t create hyperlinks (which can be inadvertantly damaged) and instead use placeholder codes that will be converted back to internal links when you import their document into your binder. Either way, each chunk of text will have a link back to the binder item it came from, so you can track down the text they are referring to in word’s comments, etc.

And searching for a key phrase is much less of a nightmare once you have the thing in Scrivener. For exact phrases the Quick Search tool in the main toolbar will usually find the one document with that phrase and you can just hit the Return key after pasting it in, to go there. I even have a little macro that does that.

Under PDF “save as PDF”
This will make a PDF file that doesn’t actually print. Open the PDF to take a look at your document with “real” numbering vs the placeholders. Not quite wysiwig, but maybe it’ll help.

One slight twist on that is to use the same PDF button in the print dialogue to “Open in Preview”. Then you don’t even have a .pdf file to clean up later, and if that’s all you need, then it’s quite convenient.

If you do take the .pdf route, compiling to PDF itself is better, because then you can set the compiler to automatically load in Skim, Reader or whatever you use. Some readers will even automatically update when you compile over the same .pdf, making a side-by-side workflow viable. Plus, compiling to PDF will give you extra features that are stripped from print for obvious reasons, like functioning hyperlinks in the ToC and so forth.

I wonder if it would be possible to put in a link (where the referenced page number should appear) that would be dynamic and compile with the page reference current? I haven’t used WORD for editing more than a chapter for a long time, but I think it had/has a feature like that.

It would permit the author to refer the reader to an accurate page number or chapter heading in the compiled document. The text that is on a compiled page is a dynamic thing. It changes with every edit in front of it in the document. The object of the link would float with the editing so when the compilation was complete, the referenced page number would be accurate.

Not sure what the barriers are to incorporating a feature like that, but it might be extremely helpful to authors of non-fiction documents like research papers.


@Fitch, you should check out Scrivener’s placeholder functionality. It has a pretty extensive list of dynamic placeholder codes some of which are meant to enable dynamic crossreferencing.