How do I add headings to my documents?

Forgive the dumb question, but how do I add headings and sub-headings to my Scrivener documents?
thank you

That depends a bit on what you want. Are you looking to print headers for every single item in the Binder, even if it is a scene (or whatever the smallest piece of your project is), or do you just want the folder sections you’ve created to have headers? If the later, you can select the “Times 12pt with Bold Folder Titles” preset. Otherwise, if when you compile you can’t see a list of option panes like “Contents”, “Formatting”, “Page Settings”, and more—you’ll need to expand the compile dialogue by clicking the down-arrow button, located directly above the purple help button. Now click on “Formatting”, and simply hold down the Option key and click on any of the checkboxes in the “Title” column in that top table. That’s all you need to do to turn on headings for everything. The final result will look a bit like this:

Neither option exactly, although what you mentioned is also useful, thank you.
What I’m trying to do is add headers to sections of documents in the binder, for non-fiction work.
For example, I have a document called “The doctrine of evil.” Within the document, the first header says “what is evil?” followed by the body below it. Then, within the same document, I have another header called “Evil in history,” followed by some more text.
In regular word processors, I have the option to choose a style from the toolbar (normal, header 1, header 2, header 3, etc). I don’t see something like that in Scrivener.
Thank you

Okay, thanks for the clarification. In a way we are talking about the same thing, it’s just that in Scrivener one can do things a little differently than in a word processor. In a word processor you have to put everything visible directly into the document itself. With Scrivener you can save that step for compilation and leave the binder and text files clean and flexible. It’s optional—you can type your headers right into the documents and style them using the font tools, but while this seems more simple on the surface, it can make things more difficult down the road. Say for instance you want to change your level 2 header (let’s assume that is a chapter and that level one is a part) so that it is a two-line heading—similar to how the Scrivener user manual is formatted. Here is what we are shooting for:

[size=80]Target format, where ‘Chapter X’ is automatically generated and ‘Title’ comes from the Binder[/size]

This method that we will use will make it so you can change the appearance or wording of the heading style in one single location, rather than having to go back and fix each and every one. In a word processor, you might do this with a mastery of stylesheets.

So first you’ll want to take a look at your Binder. Here is an example:

[size=80]Example binder naming and outline order[/size]

In this case, “Nature” is a chapter within the “Introduction” part, and it has three sections beneath it. Sub-sections would fall beneath each of those sections and so on.

Let’s go back to the Compile Formatting pane and see how it relates to this example:

[size=80]Relationship between types and formatting[/size]

Note how the chapter in the Binder is a text file with other text files beneath it, and that when that happens it gets a different icon, like a stack of paper. In the Formatting pane, a “file group” like this has its own row, which means you can give it a special treatment separate from folders and files. We can also add formatting treatments for depth as well, but for now we’ll just stick with a basic example. The Binder has three types: folders, file groups, and files—so does the formatting pane.

I’ve clicked the “Title” checkbox for file groups. This means that “Nature” and “Constructed Nature” will print their Binder names, as you have titled them, into the final document when you compile. When you click that Title box, you’ll see a sample title pop up in the live preview area below.

The next thing we need to do is add the “Chapter” bit.

  1. Click on the “Title Settings…” button
  2. We want a Prefix, because the automatic part will come before the Binder title
  3. So type into the Prefix box: [b]Chapter <$w>[/b] and then press the [b]Enter[/b] key. You should see a paragraph marker inserted into the Prefix text box
  4. One more thing, click on the Appearance tab, and set Title Prefix to “Uppercase”
  5. Click [b]Okay[/b]

Now the live preview area shows you a sample of what this will look like, turning the [b]<$w>[/b] counter token into the word “One”. When you compile these will count up automatically. So “Constructed Nature” in this example would print “Chapter two”.

It won’t preview the uppercase transformation, but when you compile it will come out as “CHAPTER ONE”.

Now in the live preview area, you can adjust the formatting. You do this much like you would in the main text editor, except you can’t edit the sample text. Click within the various elements to change the formatting for that entire element. Try it by clicking on the word “Title” and then clicking the [b]A[/b] button on the Format Bar to change the font. As you adjust the font, you’ll see the Title word change dynamically. You can do the same for the Prefix as well. In my sample above, I also adjusted the line height and paragraph spacing attributes so that the Title has a nice gap between it and the text body, but no gap above it between the prefix and the title.

Compile settings are separate from your main text. So feel free to play around with these ideas, adopting them as necessary for your own text and using the Printing/PDF compile format mode to get quick previews of how the document will look. You won’t hurt the underlying text at all by doing this, they only show up when you compile. There is a lot more that you can do here, but hopefully this quick example explains the fundamentals. In the user manual, you can read all about this Formatting option pane in §24.5 (pg. 270).

For sections, you’ll probably want something more basic. Maybe you just want to put a number in front of the Binder title. Something like typing in [b]<$hn>:[/b] will give you a “10.4.3: Agriculture and Cities” style header.

So if all of that is too much, like I said you can just do all of this in the text editor, typing in [b]Chapter <$w>[/b] by hand each time, and then typing in the title name below it, and creating Presets to ensure the format is the same every time. Presets are just style macros, so if you change your mind about the font or formatting, you’ll have to go back and fix every single one of these by hand again. Like I said above, typing them directly into the document is easier, but less flexible in the long run. Using the Compiler for this means you can save your settings for future use in other projects, so in your next project you can just select your custom compile preset, hit compile, and be done with it. It takes a little more work and learning to set up, but once you have it, it’s quite flexible and usable for years to come.

For more information on Presets, read §14.4 (pg. 147) for the details on how to use Scrivener’s editor to format documents, and in particular §14.4.3 on how to set up your own header level presets. These are global, so once you make them you can use them in all of your future projects as well—just keep in mind that they are one-way macros, not stylesheets. If you change your mind, you’ll need to update the preset (instructions for doing that are in the referenced sections), and then re-apply them all by hand to your project.

Great! thank you much.

This post thread is an excellent explanation for exactly what I was trying to figure out myself. I like the Scrivener concept of just putting the text in front of me and worrying about the other mechanics at compilation time, but I want to make sure I set up for the compilation properly. If sections and subsections and sub-subsections are each actually all broken out into separate text documents, then when would use the “Heading,” “Subheading,” and “Title” elements of the paragraph presets dropdown?

Probably never (though you could use them to set up your formatting in the compiler—but that’s a pretty seldom task). We’ve put in some handy presets for those that do not wish to learn this aspect of Scrivener. That way you can just use it more like a word processor (albeit without the stylesheets aspect), with minimal study.