Paragraph formatting in Novel template

New Scrivener user here. I just started my first new “scene,” while working in the novel template. I am puzzled that the text I am typing has no formatting. It is as though I am just in a word processor and have to do the indents and double spacing on my own…I’d expected novel template to do that for me.

I know that compile will do all that, but do I have to wait for compile to see proper manuscript formatting? If so, how do I distinguish paragraphs in the meantime? If I indent or add a line now manually, won’t that confuse the compile editor later?

You can format the text in the editor almost any way you want and later compile an output looking completely different.

If you want to change the general text and layout, for all future documents (i.e binder items), change the text for the Main Editor in Preferences. When it looks the way you want you can select all binder items in your current project, place the cursor in the editor and Convert text to default formatting.

But remem er, Scrivener is not Word. It’s not a wysiwyg editor.

Have you done the tutorial?

All of the formatting commands can be found on the Format menu. Once you have a paragraph set up the way you want it, you can use the Project -> Project Settings -> Formatting pane to make that the default formatting for the current project, or the Scrivener -> Preferences -> Editing -> Formatting pane to make it the Scrivener-wide default.

You can then override all of these settings with the Compiler later on.

Generally speaking, the “Scrivener way” is to use whatever formatting you like while actually writing, and use the Compile settings to produce the formatting that a publisher or agent wants to see, The supplied project templates reflect this philosophy.


Thank you both for your quick responses. I have changed the global formatting in the “Editing” preferences panel to mimic traditional manuscript output and everything looks better.

I will just add though, that I tried a simpler format in my text document with double spacing between paragraphs and when I compiled that version I got "#"s between paragraphs in the compiled output.

Anyway I’m off and running again, and liking Scrivener in general.

I did try to search for all this in the user’s manual before having recourse to the forum, and I searched the Tutorial document for help on formatting. I guess I need to go all the way through the Tutorial slowly a second time.

Some of the compile Formats presume that when you insert an empty line into the editor, you are wanting to insert a break between sections of text (that for whatever reason are not signficantly different enough to justify breaking them apart as separate sections in the binder). A hashmark like that is a standard way of indicating that in manuscript format.

Double-spacing between every paragraph is very unorthodox in word processing. You would usually want to achieve a visual space via paragraph formatting, not whitespace characters. But if you really do want to double-space out of preference, you can modify the compile format to remove this presumption.

That said, I double-space my paragraphs—but I write in Markdown format, which is quite a bit more simplistic and straight-forward than the word processing stuff, I find. It all gets tossed when you compile anyway, so all that matters is how you type the text itself, and double-spacing is how you indicate paragraphs.


There are extensive style options, but take a little time to setup. Yes, you can setup some styles the compile section - however, what I think you are looking for is a style pane, similar to MS Word, to use within the editor. This does exist beyond just setting a default

Start by opening a new page… Type a couple lines. Format the lines the way you want. Next goto >> Format >> Style>> ‘New Style from Selection’ - Name the style, setup various options and then repeat for every style you want in your editor

The Format>>Style menu has a bunch of options, you can setup all your predefined styles here - and just as in word, you can set default idents, paragraph spacing, space before/after style change, 'next style, (useful for headings) and there is a style pane you can also use

Play with it I am sure you’ll get it. From there, in the compile section you can choose your preexisting styles, or set different styles just for compiling(as you already didi) - there should also be an option someplace to set up the defaults once you define all your styles - ie so you don’t have to do it twice

It takes a minute to set it up - but it’s very flexible once done

Personally, I would love to see Scrivener come preinstalled with a bunch of style themes to choose form, like ms word does :slight_smile:


In a sense it does. Word has to wear its styles on its sleeves, because there is only one possible output for your document: what it looks like in the editor. Scrivener optionally moves all of that into the compile phase, meaning the stylesheet you design for your own projects can be based on personal choice, and entirely unlike what you print with (or it can be exactly like what you print, if you really want).

Yup, that’s the Set Styles Defaults… button, in the Editing: Formatting preference pane. There are two thing worth note:

  1. While in this pane, this is where body default text should be set up, rather than using styles. That’s another big difference from how Word works. Individual projects can have their own default body text formatting as well. It is often easiest to just set that up in the editor the way you like, and then use the Format ▸ Make Formatting Default menu command, which offers the choice between global or project settings.
  2. Stylesheets can be globally set with the aforementioned button, but you can also save customised styles into project templates. When doing so, creating a new project from that template will use the stored stylesheet instead of your global defaults.

Again, thanks for all your help. For now I’m writing again and will plow ahead, but I sense that I want to make some further style modifications when the flow of words (as is inevitable) slows down. Happy Holidays.

Thank you for the information.
just one question.
How can I configure in the setting a paragraphe spacing that is different than the line spacing.

The Format ▸ Paragraph ▸ Line and Paragraph Spacing… menu command is where you would set up details like that. The Format menu in general is where you will find these kinds of settings, and if you are unsure of where something may be buried, the Help menu has a handy search feature. For example if you had searched for “paragraph spacing” you’d have been lead right to it. :slight_smile:

thank you so much for your useful help and information.
I found the function as you mentioned.
And rediscovered the Help function.