More on heading levels

Hello again,

I am reading the instructions. It’s a big job. I’ve searched the Scrivener manual for the keywords “chapter” and “heading,” but came up empty.

I am considering Scrivener for a book-length non-fiction piece. Every author of a long non-fiction piece needs to think about heading levels, for the sake of keeping the reader oriented in the sequence of ideas. In addition to chapter titles, it’s necessary, at minimum to designate some headings as “level one” and some as “level two.” Some authors might also want level three headings. These might be paragraph heads.

I’m trying to figure out if Scrivener has a way of designating some lines as headings. As far as I can tell, the answer is, “No.”

I see that some control over chapter titles is available when compiling.

(I understand from a previous thread that I have limited control over how headings are formatted. Now I’m asking a more basic question. Does Scrivener even recognize headings?)

If all else fails, I can write a single line, intended to be a heading, followed by some notation for my own use, like “lv 1” or “lv 2” Later on, I can search for these with a word processor and format them as I like.

Is recognition of headings (not to mention better control over chapter titles) a feature request that has been suggested before?



Hi Tim,

Scrivener doesn’t “recognize” text within documents as anything in particular, no. You can apply formatting to a line, of course, but as I mentioned in the other thread, this isn’t going to do anything for your eBooks anyway, as the eBook conversion will reformat all your text.

What you can do though is work in smaller chunks. Instead of thinking of “chapter titles” you really want to just consider the document titles at each level. With Scrivener’s compile system, you can designate different title header levels for different document types and levels. So for instance, in your binder you might have a structure that looks like this:hierarchy example.png
In compile, you can choose to have that Level 1 folder title formatted as header 1, the titles of the Level 2 document stack and the Level 2 single document formatted as header 2, and the title of the Level 3 single document formatted as header 3. So by breaking down your work into these different sections, you can apply the header styles you want when it’s time to compile for your eBook.

Working in this smaller “chunked” format is part of what makes Scrivener a joy for organization and structure: it’s easy to see your outline in the binder, focus just on the section you’re working on, and rearrange pieces as needed. You can also select a folder or multiple documents to view them together as a seamless structure using Scrivenings view, and if you want the document titles included in that you can select View>Editor>Show Titles in Scrivenings so you get your section designations in there as well.

Does that help clarify a bit? Scrivener is enormously powerful, but it’s quite different from the usual word processor so starting out it can throw you for a loop a bit when you’re thinking in traditional word processing conventions. :wink:

As MM says, Compile gives you complete control over how titles at different levels are formatted, via the “Formatting” pane. You can add as many levels to the binder as you want, and in the “Formatting” pane you can create as many levels as you want too - if you only create one level in the “Formatting” pane, then all levels will be formatted the same; create multiple levels in the “Formatting” pane to format levels differently.

I’m sorry to hear you are finding things difficult - I’ve spent the past six or seven years of my life trying to make things as straightforward as possible, but there is certainly a learning curve because Scrivener isn’t a word processor but a drafting tool that allows you to override formatting at compile time if you wish. One thing we are missing at the moment is a really good video tutorial walking through the Compile feature, but it’s on our to-do list.

All the best,

You explained that very well, MM. I get it now. Thanks a bunch.


No need for an apology, Keith. You’ve got a good product here. It is a little hard to learn, just like any other complex piece of software.

Coincidentally, I’ve been working on and off for years a similar project, for my own use, using LiveCode, previously known as Runtime Revolution. It has a long way to go. Probably easier to use Scrivener.

I’ve got the main idea of Scrivener, now. Thanks for your help.


Hi Tim,

I’m glad things are starting to click - keep firing away those questions as they arise.

Scrivener started of as a project mainly for my own use, too, as you may know, so good luck with your project.

Thanks for the kind words.

All the best,

I just wanted to chip in here. While this method of working in smaller chunks probably makes sense for many, for me personally it just seems to make things more awkward. I like things to be simple, and have no need for more than one text document within each chapter. So I like my chapters as single-level text documents as shown here:


There are benefits to this, the main one being that it’s easier to navigate through the novel. If I use folders, that means a text document within each folder. So instead of a simple list of 23 text documents in the binder (one per chapter), I’d end up with 23 folders each with a single text document inside, which means the binder list would be twice as long (assuming the folders are shown “open” – and if they’re closed, then it makes navigation between chapters much more fiddly in my opinion).

Also, I like to use the “scrivenings” view; I just highlight the “Manuscript” folder and then I can view the entire novel in one go, with a simple dotted line between each chapter. It’s so simple and clean! But using folders for each chapter takes away that simple navigation.

However, there’s a (seemingly unnecessary) problem when it comes to compiling, as stated in the original post. If I wanted to show the chapter prefix (eg, “Chapter One”) in italics and then the chapter title in bold underneath (kind of as shown in the picture above) then it can’t be done. Using the “Modify” button in the compiler, the styles for the chapter and title are one and the same; there’s no way to separate them that I can see. The only way to separate them is to have them on different levels, which is where the folder/document relationship comes in.

If it weren’t for this annoyance, I’d be well happy! At the moment, the above imported manuscript shows the titles within the text, and I can of course hide the binder titles and chapter prefixes during compile so they don’t show twice – but it’s not ideal doing it this way. I’d rather make proper use of the binder titles during compile… IF if I can only separate the title styles from the chapter prefix.

This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but for convenience… is there ANY way around this?

AND – using my single-level document method as shown above, what happens with prologues and epilogues if using the compiler’s system for adding binder titles and chapter prefixes? It automatically starts at “Chapter One” but I don’t see a way to start with “Prologue” or anything else.

Hi Keith,

First, note that this is the Mac support forum, and you are talking about the Windows version. The Mac version does allow different formatting for the title prefix, title and suffix, so on the Mac version everything you want is possible. The Windows version currently has a limitation whereby the prefix, title and suffix all use the same formatting. I’ve just raised this with the Windows developer, as this is something that needs addressing in the future to make it the same as the Mac version (as this was a 2.0 feature, it may just be that Lee has it on his list for further down the road).

Everything else you want is possible, though. For any front matter you should just tick “Compile As-Is” and enter the titles in the text themselves if they need them. On the Mac version there is a “Title Adjustments” pane that allows you to specify any documents that shouldn’t have a prefix or suffix added to their titles - this will be coming to the Windows version in the future.

So, in short, everything you are after is already available in the Mac version, and is on the roadmap for the Windows version too.

All the best,

Thanks, Keith! I just now popped back in and found your reply. Good to know, and I appreciate the answer.

For now I’ll type the bold titles into the top of the chapter text but leave off the italic “Chapter One” part (leaving that to be auto-added by the compiler in whatever format I choose, eg italic). So that’s what I’ll do until the multi-formatting thing is added to the Windows version.