Lost in Compile

Just wondering if any kind soul has written a dummies guide to compiling in Scrivener 3. I have spent a chunk of two days trying to accomplish some simple formatting for a compiled doc to send out for review, but get lost in the options and terminology and undoing decades of word processing with style sheets. I cannot make sense of this part of the manual–my eyes get crossed, it is so detailed that the main concepts are buried–and the tutorial hasn’t helped. There is a disconnect somewhere. Help! Someone please write a beginner’s guide so that we can at least get a foot into the compile door.

Have you done the interactive Tutorial?

These video tutorials might help:

literatureandlatte.com/lear … ategory=43

Slàinte mhòr.

So much depends on what you want in your document — that’s the downside of Scrivener’s flexibility — so without knowing that no-one can give you a highly detailed do this then do that…

But it helps to get your head round a couple of basic concepts and terms — once you’re got those, then the rest is actually fairly logical. I hope the following helps…

First of all, you need to understand that there are two separate processes involved:

  1. Constructing the document to follow a logical structure – ie getting the content right. You do this in the Editor using Section Types.

  2. Telling Scrivener what you want the compiled document to look like, which you do in Compilation, using Section Layouts.

(It’s a bit more complicated than this is some cases, but it’s a good rule of thumb to start with.)

Let’s say you’re writing a novel, which is made up of Chapters and Scenes. Typically, you’d represent that structure in Scrivener by having in the Binder a Folder for each Chapter, under which you’d have a text document for each Scene.

You’ll want the Chapters heading and the Scenes to look differently when they’re compiled (for example, a Chapter will have bold titles and no text, while the Scenes will be just text without titles). So, you need to tell Scrivener that the compiler needs to treat these two types of binder element differently.

That’s where Section Types come in — they’re just a way of telling Scrivener what to do with each element in the Binder. If you’re using the basic Novel template, you should be able to right click on each document in the Binder and choose Section Type > Chapter (or Heading, or whatever) [NB. The actual names of the Section Types doesn’t really matter, as long as you allocate one name to each different type of document Scrivener doesn’t care…]

When it’s time to compile, you’re first faced with the choice of what type of document you’re looking at – is it PDF, an Ebook, a Word document etc? Choose the right one, then you’ll see a list of difference compilation formats dow the left hand side. For example, do you want your PDF to be a manuscript submission, or a ready to print paperback etc. A number of typical formats are provided by default but you can amend them later if you want.

For now, just choose one of the formats. On the right hand side of the dialogue box you’ll see a stylised list of your documents, each of which is labelled with a Section Type. Check that they’re as you’d expect them to be.

Up to now, you’ve identified the structure of your document with Section Types and you’ve chosen the basic compilation format you want. All that’s left is to tell Scrivener what you want each Section Type to look like. You do this with Section Layouts, which is the middle of the three panes in the compilation dialogue.

At the bottom of the middle pane there’s a button marked ‘Assign Section Layouts’. Click on it and you’re taken to another dialogue. On the left is a list of the Section Types you have in your document. In the middle there’s a scrollable list of ‘dummy’ layouts which have been provided by default to meet a range of typical requirements. You need to click on each Section Layout on the left, and scroll down the dummy list to choose the one which looks closest to your requirements.

Eg. Click on Chapter (or Heading etc) on the left, then in the middle, choose the layout ‘Chapter Number’, which shows a box with a page break, a number 1, then some text. Then click on Scene (or Section etc) on the left and choose the Text Section layout. You’ve now told scrivener what the document is going to look like: in this case each Chapter will a page break before and have a centred number as the title while the scenes follow on from each other.

When you’ve finished, click on OK, then compile. If you don’t like how the resulting document looks, then go and choose a different Section Layout. If none of them fit your requirements, then you can amend them, but that’s beyond the scope of this post…

That’s basically it: decide what the structure of the document is in the Editor (give each document in the binder a suitable Section Type), then in the compilation dialogue, decide what each Section Type will look like by giving it a Section Layout.

Obviously you’ll need to follow the Tutorial steps, but I hope this helps put some of the steps into context.