issues with formatting

I am a long time Scrivener owner, but I haven’t been able to actually use it because I am so stumped by formatting issues:

Issue #1

I’m often confused with what is happening with my text. For example:

  1. I open a new page and I select preset title and I get title styled font
  2. I hit hit return and change the preset to body, but the text is bold. I then need to highlight the line and hit bold to remove bold.

Another example,

  1. I add a preset with a special font. I type a paragraph.
  2. I then try to add a heading expecting that the default text would apply, but I still have the font from the prior preset. I can’t seem to undo this. . . I go to convert formatting to default text and then I lose all my formatting.

Is this just the way it is or is there some way to control this? Put plainly, coming from an application from Pages.app, the presets don’t seem to work. Maybe they aren’t styles and I should avoid them.

Issue #2:

  • I understand that you can control the way that an entire section looks, but can you have the final document reflect the look of presets? If I create custom presets, how do I get them to appear in a compiled document? For example, if I create a preset called italic-highight and apply it to a paragraph, how can I make the final document include the font that looks similar? Or, how can I control the way something like a block quote will look during a compile.

I have read the manual, watch videos, and looked in the forums, but I can’t seem to get it right.

Could someone please point me in the right direction? I honestly can’t figure it out.

As a start, I would like to end up with a document that looks like this:

Well, the easiest way to use the Compile feature is “Original”. That doesn’t do anything special except glue together all of the section, add page breaks at folder-text seams, empty lines at other seams, a default header/footer and a few other common sense things like stripping out comments. Otherwise no titles will be added, no formatting changed, no transformations done on the text—nothing fancy. If you put a whole lot of care and time into designing the look of the document in the text editor, that might just be the way to go with a few tweaks (maybe you do want titles inserted for instance).

If you do want to learn the compiler though, and want to get presets into the final output: in the compile Formatting pane, you have access to an abbreviated Format Bar, and from there you can access presets you’ve already created. So clicking “Title” on a folder row in that pane, and then clicking in the title area and applying the preset is all you need to do. You’d only need to do that if you’d rather look at something other than the output design while working.

They are very deliberately not called styles for that reason. They are macros, presets, or formatting brushes. Generally speaking, most people use the compiler to add the main thing that needs special universal styling: titles. Since you can set up the formatting in that one spot, there is no need for stylesheets. Simply tweak the compile settings and export again to change the look, structure, numbering style, etc. You can do that without switching on the body text formatting override (in fact there is a fairly large latitude of flexibility in how much that impacts, behind the “Options” button in the Formatting pane).

But you know, that’s just one way to use the software. If you’re more comfortable typing headings into the editor and using longer documents instead of short ones with binder names = section names, then go for it. Just keep in mind that formatting is static, so definitely deliberate on the look and feel before you go 400 pages in.

Alternatively, you can handle stylesheets in Word if you really need them. It’s pretty easy to select everything of a certain formatting type in Word and apply a style to all selected text at once. So long as you keep your formatting consistent and discrete, this is a maybe five to thirty minute chore.

There are a number of people, even veterans, that use Scrivener just that way. If the Compiler and that whole philosophy has been a stumbling block for a long time, maybe that’ll just be a better way of working for you? Use Scrivener for the hard writing and large-scale organisation, not worrying so much about what it looks like, just staying consistent. Then polish it all off in Word or whatever processor you prefer once it’s done.