How to remove auto-indents in Scrivener 3?

I’m still a new user, so apologize if there’s a basic answer. I’ve tried following videos and online instructions but can’t figure this out.

When I type my manuscript, I indent each new paragraph by clicking the Tab. Default setting is 0.5". When I compile, every paragraph displays as if there are two tabs. So, the paragraphs are indented too much and I have to go through the entire document fixing them. This is not true for every paragraph in every chapter, but it’s true for most.

Any suggestions?


Hi dmsimone.

First things first : TABs as indents for new paragraphs is the wrong way to do things.
What you actually need is Scrivener to indent your paragraphs in the editor so you see the indent.
Not using TABs anymore will right off fix your compile issue.

Backup your project first, just in case something goes sideways.

Go to options File/Options (ctrl +,)

In the Editing / Formatting tab, set the indent as you want it.

Confirm / Exit the options.
Then, select your documents in the binder, and :

Use project replace Edit / Find / Project replace and replace your TABs with nothing.
(If you used TABs in another context too, then you’ll have to do the cleanup manually in order for these “others” to be preserved. — We all learn from our mistakes :wink: )

And, finally : stop using TABs as indents. (You won’t have to, anymore.)

1 Like

Thanks for the fast response. I did the first part on one chapter only…but when I go to Edit / Find / Project replace…how do I replace TABs with nothing? What do I put in the Replace and With fields?




So : Replace Ctrl-TAB with Leave blank

That little list of CR, line feed and tab (with the how to get them in there) appears if you leave your mouse idle in the input zone.

Set the bottom section as this :

Did you backup your project already ? If not, do so first.

I created a back up.

OK I am really, really thick. When I followed your instructions exactly, I got this:

Is this right?
And the With field I don’t do anything? Just leave it blank?


Replace only Ctrl + TAB

…are not my instructions. This little popup is part of the app.

. . . . . . .


Like this?



No need to be sorry.

Yes, like this. And set the bottom part as I showed you.
If you haven’t selected your documents yet, either set the replacement for
image (Unchecked)

…or exit the replacement, select your documents in the binder, and then come back to the replacement function.

It is only a question of whether you want it done to them all or just a few selected ones.

It worked! It’s a miracle!! Thank you!!


For future readers of this thread, the Edit → Text Tidying → Strip Leading Tabs command is also useful.


Also ?
If I had known that’s more like what I would have proposed.

I never use tabs, but I suppose this would have greatly simplified the replace with nothing part… (?)

When I used a mechanical/electric typewriter to write, TAB key essential!

(now, they should remove the TAB key on computer keyboards, or at least make them smaller. Less important since personal computer “word processing” came along in the 1970’s.)


Weeellll, I think you’d have few programmers and otherwise plain-text oriented writers out there that might disagree with you on whether the tab key should be made more difficult to press. :laughing:

But yes, it would be nice if there was some solution to this. Having the default formatting for Scrivener include an indent really helps, I think. One of Microsoft’s huge mistakes with Word was going for a “modern” paragraph design with no indents. Great, except almost every writer out there is encouraged to indent their paragraphs. How then does one do this? Learn the complicated and mind-bending dialogue boxes that are involved in changing jargon-filled paragraph shaping settings… or press this huge Tab key that makes it look right?

So, it’s not even just typewriters at this point, but decades of bad Word default settings.


Probably. But my recollection that IBM DisplayWrite (3 and 4), a corporate-favorite for many years, worked the same with the TAB key. Not just Microsoft!

In elementary school I used a typewriter (TAB key). On my Apple IIC (Appleworks?) I used a TAB. I’m older than Word, but it too encouraged the practice. Plus, I program. I think I was doomed from the start :slight_smile:

But hey, I no longer use two spaces after a period, so that’s something!


Why not turn this into a product? I envision some sort of USB gadget, let’s call it the “L&L Tab Educator”. Basically a device that slaps you in the face and then reads out aloud all relevant manual passages.


There is a solution.
Some apps remap specific keys of your choosing to whatever other key (or key combination) you desire. (I’m sure you already know that.)
Take ComfortKeys for e.g. You could trigger whatever chain of event you wish from it. (And so with AHK.)
Surely — though I haven’t investigated this at all — there is a way to make it so that you can instead hold it, and turn it into a modifier key, to use with other keys. (Turning TAB into Ctrl+Shift+Alt, for example. Or whatever multi-keys combo that’s giving you finger issues.) – That should be within ComfortKeys’ range. (You can toggle it off anytime you need TAB to act as TAB.)

Though I have to say that really really like @November_Sierra potential use of it. (Please implement an option to have the occasional slap without the manual passages so we can still enjoy it even though we know (enough) what we’re doing. — Some setting to have it randomly trigger on its own would be nice too.)


Again though, tab stops do have a legitimate use in Scrivener, and some depend upon them a great deal for the kind of writing they do (Markdown uses tabs extensively for verbatim/code blocks, list indents and for most kinds of block continuation, like multiple paragraphs in a bullet point). So sure, while one solution to the problem is to make the software more authoritative and block the use of Tab entirely, maybe not even have the Ruler any more, I think part of Scrivener’s appeal is that it is a freeform text editor that lets you do what you need to do, rather than something more like LyX, which doesn’t even let you press the Return key more than once, or add more than one sequential space, or use the tab key. That is certainly a kind of tool that is out there, and some people really like that kind of environment (if all I was writing was LaTeX content, I probably would like LyX a lot because blocking redundant or useless whitespace cuts down on a huge amount of proofreading overhead), but it’s generally not why they come to Scrivener.

That’s why I don’t think there is a really good solution to this problem, in this context, because what we’re talking about is more along the lines of what a style guide would address: how to properly format text in a freeform environment. Without taking away the latter, you’re left with stuff like Clippy wagging its finger until you figure out how to turn it off. :slight_smile: