I'm New and Could Use Some Formatting Help

Hi everyone! Please forgive me if I posted this in the wrong section. As I just said, I am new to Scrivener and just completed the very lengthy tutorial because I want to start writing my fantasy novel. However, I am confused with how I should format it.

Almost every tutorial that I’ve found online in reference to formatting discusses how to compile which is not what I am looking for at this time. Compiling is something that is done after you have started writing and not before. I am starting from scratch and essentially want to set up a sort of chapter heading template that I can use for each time I am on a new chapter. Is this something that is going to have to be done manually each time I make a chapter, or could I feasibly make a template for Chapter Headings? Or should I basically be writing and not worrying about formatting at all since it is all going to be getting compiled anyway?

From what I’ve found online, Times New Roman 12 tends to be the preferred font and size with double spacing. But how big should the chapter heading be? And many spaces should I leave between the heading and the top of the page and also between the heading and the start of the chapter? Or is this something that I could customize?

I hope I explained my question well enough to you guys and I’m looking forward to beginning to finally take the stories that have been floating around in my head since I was a child and sharing them with everyone.

I think one reason why tutorials and books tend to jump quickly into the philosophy of compiling is that it can be useful to know a little bit of how Scrivener can help you out once you get to that point, before you are even remotely ready to actually export.

For instance there is one thing it does that alleviates the need to do this entirely:

That’s exactly what the compile can do for you. You can tell it to take all folders and print them using a template, usually taking the name of the folder itself and printing it along with some additional boilerplate, like “Chapter #”, which of course handles the numbering for you as well. You can even get more complicated about it, and tell it that top level folders should be “Parts” (using Roman numbering) and subfolders beneath those “Chapters” (using ‘Arabic’ numerals). The advantage to this approach, beyond keeping such details out of the creative process entirely, is that you can centrally define what these constructs look like. If you change your mind about what a chapter heading should look like, you need only fix one thing in your settings rather than going through 25 pieces of text. If you move chapter 8 to chapter 18, that doesn’t matter because the numbering will be sorted out for you.

Thus you don’t have to worry about formatting at all while you’re writing. All you need to be concerned with is structure, and that is something that is malleable, and can evolve as your work does. A section can be split up into multiple pieces if it becomes complex, and grouped into a folder to make it a chapter, for example. You aren’t making a chapter heading and then typing words into the chapter—you’re building a structure around your text that can later be converted into this real-world construct on export.

As for precisely how to do that—well that’s something you can learn later, and I highly recommend not worrying too much about it. But that’s where a little background knowledge on what the compiler is, can help.

And to reiterate one point in there: don’t worry too much about getting the “structure” right as you go. You can even convert items in the outline to folders and back to files on the fly. You don’t even have to “think in chapters” if you don’t want to. Let that happen as it needs/wants to.

P.S. Your user name is one of my favourite video game characters of all time. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll make sure to get a good understanding of the compiler when the time comes then. Thank you for your advice but I’m pretty sure this will be far from the last time that I’ll need help haha.

And thanks! I just beat Mass Effect 2 a couple of days ago and started ME3. I fell in love with Tali’s character. And it’s not just because she has an adorable voice , and that her suit is as Engineer Donnely says, “Quite snug in all the right places”. She is a loyal friend to Shepherd and as a Quarian, she has a sympathetic backstory while being one of the most selfless characters in the game. And her talkative nature and her personality are so cute! But she isn’t afraid to flaunt her shotgun either :smiley:

Correct. That’s exactly why the Compile function works the way it does.