Paragraph first line indents (in editor)

As described in the manual (24.2) regarding compile settings: “Utilises the common typesetting practice of discarding the first-line indent for any paragraph following a header and/or section break. The calculation for this can be tuned with a set of options below the main checkbox”

This is exactly what I’m looking for. In the editor. Either there’s no setting for it or I can’t find it :question: My current workaround is to manually assign a “first paragraph” style to these first paragraphs, which seems to be awkward and not very elegant (moving around paragraphs is not exactly fun that way).

Any ideas where I can change the default editor behavior?


As the Editor doesn’t know if a given paragraph is destined to be the first paragraph in a particular section (even if it starts off as being the first paragraph in a new file or folder), it isn’t able to style the paragraph uniquely on the fly. Compile can do this as it has the structural information needed to apply the appropriate formatting.

So it can’t be changed as an automatic style in the Editor. Your current solution works (though is a drag if reordering paragraphs), or you can just show the ruler and remove the indent as necessary.

Are you sure? The editor seems to know when to indent, so it has the necessary structural information needed to figure out that it displays a paragraph. It also knows if this paragraph immediately follows another paragraph or not. This is basically all the information it needs to make this distinction. If there’s anything other than a paragraph right in front of it (e.g. a blank line, heading, quote, etc.) it’s a “first paragraph”. Maybe I’m missing something here, which is very well possible, but how does Compile figure it out after all?

It is possible to break Scrivener down into little or large sections. A file for a single sentence or paragraph. It is only during compile that Scrivener gets told what each file or folder is and how each type of file and folder should be joined together or separated.

The compile settings allow users to tell Scrivener how it should handle different file types: Q files should be separated by section breaks, X files by single returns, Z files by empty lines, Y files by a user-defined custom separator. The user can also decide which types of separators should or shouldn’t be followed by indented first paragraphs.

In Scrivener > Preferences > Editing > Formating, users can set a default-paragraph style. There isn’t an option for a separate first-paragraph style. In the nine years I’ve used Scrivener, I’ve only ever been able to remove first-line indents automatically during compile (although I actually write without any indents in the Editor). Very happy to be proved wrong on this. If I have got it wrong, I apologise,

Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on that, Bridey. I’m quite the opposite of you, I’m a pretty inexperienced Scrivener user just starting to dig deeper into it. So far I love it (most of it), but these paragraphs drive me nuts.

To push the elephant out of the room: It can’t be done right now, there’s no setting to achieve this behavior in the editor?

If I get it right Scrivener is more about structuring the text, the real formatting magic is supposed to happen during compilation. This is a good idea. Having to apply special styles or even fiddling with rulers to change the way the editor displays the text seems to contradict this philosophy. It feels wrong, actually. Like having to apply a different font size if there wouldn’t be a zoom option.

Since it doesn’t seem to be possible at the moment, should I rather request it as a feature? From my perspective it’s “just a checkbox” (yeah, I know), it’s not that hard to tell if there’s a paragraph in front of a paragraph, but what do I know. Maybe there’s some underlying technical issue I’m not aware of.

Can’t hurt to ask . . .and I might have got this wrong for years.

It’s a fantastic program, IMO, but beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. It’s built for structuring, writing, and editing, where the words and ideas matter more than the look. Suits my way of working.

You can always use the Ctrl-Opt-Cmd- Left or Right arrow keyboard shortcut to change the first line indentation of a paragraph.

Generally, though, you leave this sort of thing to the Compile stage. The logic isn’t actually quite as simple as you suppose, because the user might add a title at the top of the text, and if the user doesn’t use a header level in the title, Scrivener has no way of knowing what the user intends. There’s not even a way of doing this automatically in Word, I believe - even there you have to set a different style for the first paragraph if that’s what you want.

I generally wouldn’t recommend using a style for this sort of thing in Scrivener, though, because that could make overriding format at Compile time just that tiny bit more difficult. I would just decent the paragraph using the keyboard shortcut.

All the best,

Thanks for clarifying, Keith. To be honest I have no idea how Word or similar programs handle it (or don’t), haven’t seen Word in years. I assumed it would be “pretty easy” to find out if there’s a another paragraph toe to toe in front of the current one and “just” display the current paragraph’s indent in such a (and only this) case; whatever formatting stunts the user tried before shouldn’t have any effect this way – but then you had several more years to think about this problem :slight_smile:

The suggested shortcuts work well enough to get the job done and thankfully don’t involve the use of a style. (BTW before anyone else runs into the same trap: The popular “Magnet” app overrides the Ctrl-Opt-Cmd- Left or Right shortcuts by default, so either nothing happens or Scrivener jumps to different screens if available. You can’t imagine my surprise!)

@Bridey absolutely, I agree. And I really love the full screen editor, it’s like writing in a printed book. If you know what I mean. The paragraph behavior broke that immersion, cause I’m used to a different first paragraph’s first line indentation (is that even a word?). The shortcuts provided by Keith should do the trick, though. I guess my problem meets the definition of “First World problem” :wink:

Thank you both for your help!

I was just playing around and discovered this quick fix by accident. When I pasted a chapter from Word into Scrivener, I had some crazy indents, too. If your formatting is good on other chapters, just go to one of those chapters, highlight some text, then go to the top menu and click [ Format > Formatting . Copy Format ]. Then go back to your recently pasted text from Word, highlight all of it, and then go back to the top menu and click [ Format > Formatting . Paste Format ]. Voila. Your text should look like the rest of your file. It worked for me. Hope it works for you.