I understand the high level, that the document formats are largely for your convenience & pleasure as a writer, and that the compile formats standardize everything and allow you to modify formats globally for publication.
When documents are compiled, format substitutions are done by the compile format: font, font size, margins, justification, etc.
Some things are not changed: font style (e.g., italics, bold, etc. though with the notable exception sometimes of italics & underline), and font color.
OK, so let’s say when writing I use a format preset for a block quote. This affects font, font size, margins, and justification, all of which are overridden by the compiled format. So the only changes that stick are the font style (italics or bold) and color. My extra spacing above and below, gone. The change in indentation, gone. The different font size, gone.
So what is the point of the format presets when writing?
How do you set up a block quote style for compile? Is the best you can do set it up for “Preserve formatting”, and then go through and change every quote’s font when you change the compile font?
When I have Document –> Convert –> Formatting to default text file, is there a way to set default text styles for block quotes (etc.) so that they are preserved as appropriate? Otherwise, everything gets converted to the style of Tools –> Options –> Editor. Even my Body format preset is overridden in this case, so I’m not even sure what the point of the format presets are.
I could not find the compile format option to have first paragraph of a section not have the first-line indent, as described in this video: https://youtu.be/bwlCnRBJR0k?t=14m46s
I can only help with (2) and (4).
- Is the best you can do set it up for “Preserve formatting”, and then go through and change every quote’s font when you change the compile font?
Yes. That’s one reason I try very hard to avoid all block-formatted paragraphs in my books.
- I could not find the compile format option to have first paragraph of a section not have the first-line indent
I think that’s only available in the Mac version. I’ve done research, and found that many think that you don’t really need to eliminate the first-line indent at the start of chapters. I don’t do it, and I think people should resist this to avoid arbitrary rule creep.
Why have presets? Because they make it easier if you want to have the text in a certain format while writing.
AND, if you have your special block quotes as individual documents, you can tick the “As is” box in the compile setting so that it is preserved when you compile. You can have everything “As is” if you want to.
I’d suggest going through some of our more recent blog posts on where Scrivener will be headed in terms of compile and stylesheets. Much of what you are talking about is going to be overhauled to the point where some of these points are referring to features that will no longer exist, or will have rare need to be used.
Briefly though: real stylesheets that exert more pressure on the output—but that can still be overridden completely if that is the intention. Styles will be by their nature “preserve formatting” until otherwise instructed, and the nature of that instruction can be layered from “just change the font family” to “change everything”.
As for what the point of presets are in the current implementation: mainly for people that don’t use the compiler the way you are describing it, or only use it that way for some things (via “as-is”). Some people just prefer to use Scrivener more simply, like a word processor, where text is formatted in the editor precisely how it will end up—some don’t even use the automatic chapter heading stuff, which is why there are “heading” presets. There are people like me that write using Markdown and use presets merely for editorial markings or for flavour.