Import Format not working as expected

Trying to export/import project formats from Book 1 into Book 2. When I import, I see this yellow box saying “No layouts from this format have been assigned to any of the section types in the project yet…”

Am I doing something wrong, or am I doing something wrong by expecting the layouts to be assigned?

(Mac version 3.0.3, Mac OS 10.13.6)

How is Scrivener supposed to know how to assign Section Layouts?

If the import was successful, the formats are there. But the whole point of Scrivener 3’s distinction between Section Layouts and Section Types is to break Scrivener 2’s connection between the formatting and the structure of the project. In your case, it may be that Book 1 and Book 2 are both composed of ‘Chapters’ that are broken into ‘Scenes.’ But you could just as easily import the same Section Layouts into a project composed of ‘Essays’ grouped according to ‘Themes.’ Or into a cookbook.


Indeed, you’re doing nothing wrong - you just need to click on “Assign Section Layouts…” to assign the Section Types in the current project to the Section Layouts in the Compile Format.

All the best,

How is Scrivener supposed to know how to assign Section Layouts?

I figure that is part of the information that was exported. If I have Chapter Heading section type set for Chapter Heading layout, Section section type set to Section Text layout, etc. in Project A, why isn’t this information already established when I import it into Project B?

What is the purpose importing and exporting if I have to put the two projects side by side and manually do what import & export should do for me?

It sounds like you are thinking of a compile Format as being something that “belongs to” a project. While it is true that a format can be saved into a project exclusively, that shouldn’t be confused with it having any understanding of how the project makes use of what a format provides. The truth is the other way around: a project knows how it uses the Format, and that’s not the part you are exporting if you are exporting a Format.

What a Format provides is very simple in concept: a set of formatting instructions for how a document should look and behave, as an abstract concept—or what you might think of as a template, by which a document is presented; switch templates and the entire look of the document may change. When a project makes use of a Format, through the assignments panel, you are having the project select which of these different formatting instructions to use, and where to use them within the draft folder. That configuration has absolutely nothing to do with the format. That is a project setting, and each project will have its own relationship with a Format that no other project shares.

In this way, a novel and a book of poems can both use the same exact Format—very likely in entirely different ways—but if you edit that central format then both the book of poems and the novel will adjust how they work based on the new instructions (perhaps a font change for headings or a small shift in the bottom margin).

It is of course to save yourself several hours of manually setting up styles, Section Layouts and diverse other settings by hand. I think you will find assigning Types→Layouts to be considerably less labour intensive than that.

By the way: project templates are the ultimate answer to what I think you are striving toward. The concept of having a project that is already set up to work with a Format from the very start is the sort of thing creating your own Project Template can help you with. This is what we do in fact: the reason there is appeal in starting with the General Non-Fiction template is in large part because it already has several Formats set up to work with it out of the box. That isn’t magic—we went in there and assigned all of those ourselves after designing the Formats in question. It only comes that way because the Project Template was saved that way.