Making First Para of Each Chapter Non-Indented

After four fiction books, I just learned that the first paragraph of each chapter should not be indented.

Is there a flexible way of doing this in Scrivener? That is, I could use a special Preserve Formatting for the first paragraph, but then, if I ever wanted to change font, for example, I’d have to go to each chapter and change it. Or is there a better way?



Yes, very important point! And although Scrivener is primarily a First Draft tool, there are already so many basic layout options included that it seems odd that proper indentation is not one of them.

Actually the same indentation rule also applies for typical scene breaks (“small” ones with a blank line and “big” ones with e.g. asterisks: * * * ): The following paragraph should not be indented either.

TromboneAl, what might help you a little bit right now is to use Compile as is and have separate types of formatting presets: one which only has Save paragraph style selected, not Include font and not Include font size. Of these you make two different ones, one called e.g. P-First which has no indent, the other one called e.g. P-Standard which has indentation. Apply P-First to all paragraphs following a chapter beginning or a scene break and P-Standard to the rest.

Then you might create other formatting presets which have “Save character attributes” including font and font size selected. E.g. create one C-Standard (for the major parts of the text body) and another one C-Thought (for thoughts, in italics likely). Apply these as you see fit. With this you can change fonts and all other character attributes using character presets and preserve your indentations.

Of course everything will be much easier once proper character and paragraph styles will be introduced to Scrivener but even then it is good practice not to mix character and paragraph settings in one style.

However, whenever you rely on manually applied formatting (using presets or, in the future, proper styles) and apply “Compile as is”, there will always be extra manual work once you start splitting or joining existing scenes. So of course the best solution would be to code these indentation rules into the Compile Settings.

I think the best way to implement proper indentation in Scrivener is to have a compile option (and hopefully editor option as well) called e.g. “No first line indents” which makes sure, that whenever a paragraph is preceded by either:

(a) a (manual) blank line
(b) a non-null separator (like “* * *” or “------” or a blank line, or …)
© a title,

then the first line should not be indented. This should cover all cases where a first line no-indent should be applied, doesn’t it?

Yes, good tips. Thanks.

Compile As Is scares me too much. Once in a while, I’ve somehow changed the format of the paragraphs unintentionally. I’d worry that would get into the final document.

My inclination, until Scriv has proper styles, is to ignore this formatting rule. No reader has ever brought it up. That’s my “don’t sweat the small stuff” attitude.

This is a very old concern which, however, has no real grounding in cast-iron rules other than the whims of different publisher sticking to their own publishing styles.

I have gone back and forth on this first-line argument for years and my conclusion is that you CAN intent the first line of paragraphs under titles, at the beginning of scenes and sections, etc., if you prefer it that way. Indeed, this “rule” is widely ignored in Europe (with the exception of the UK, of course) and it is next to non-existent in Russia and, generally, in “eastern bloc” countries.

See, for example, the Chicago manual of style (Tarubian): “The first line of text following a subhead may begin flush left or be indented by the usual paragraph indention.”

US publishers follow the rule out of habit and because “we always do it this way,” I believe. A quick search in style handbooks will show you a variety of opinions pro and con. Check out the following conversation: … paragraphs

I personally follow the “European” style and leave things “natural” and straightforward: first line of paragraphs, sections etc are ALWAYS intended. Don’t be overly concerned about this, just use what comes “natural” to your own style.

Thanks, H. I’ve done some more research and come to the same conclusion: It’s optional (although not everyone agrees).

Good choice :slight_smile: