Printing items under binder heading as one document

I’m brand new to Scrivener. Giving it a trial on a small [overdue] writing project. I had a draft document that included notes for revision. I broke the sections down into separate items under the “research” heading in the binder. When start to work on polishing a section I move it up under the “draft” heading in the binder, which I’ve renamed with the name of my project.

I would like to print all the items under each heading as one continuous document. I don’t see how to do that. I tried compiling, but no matter what I have selected, a top level header or one of the sub items, Scrivener prints only the first item under the header.

I understood Scrivener encourages breaking larger projects into smaller components this way. I assumed when I broke my document down the way I have I’d still be able to print it as one document. Any help would be appreciated.

It appears at this point that Scrivener has a steep, and possibly long, learning curve. I’ve had the experience of software that impresses me that way initially becoming intuitive, so I have an open mind. But I’m a bit anxious about the time it’s going to take and about possibly getting locked into a complicated, self-contained system that makes it difficult to move notes, drafts, and documents back and forth between other applications. Any reassurance anyone might be able to offer would also be appreciated.


Lacking a good conceptualisation of what your project and compile settings look like, I’ll instead show you a simple example that you can use to compare with what you are seeing. Here is a very basic Draft:

I’m not sure if this is what you are trying to do, but it sounds like it from the description: it sounds like you wish to export, say, “Two” as a separate article with all of its sub-files (e,f,g,h) as a single document. Let’s take a look at how to do that in compile:

First, to eliminate any weirdness, select “Original” from the Format As drop-down menu. If you have already applied some customisations you wish to save, you might wish to do so before selecting Original. Just click the “Save…” button in the lower left and give it a useful name for later recollection. Okay, now click on the Contents pane in the left list. You should see a display that shows your entire binder structure as the above screenshot shows it: the two folders with all of the sub-documents. In the top drop-down menu, select “Two”. You should now have something that looks like this:

Try compiling that using the “Printing / PDF” method (which should be automatically set when you chose Original), and click the Preview button in the print dialogue that will appear. Does that look roughly like you want? If so, take these concepts and apply them to your project.

You should have no problem compiling to any depth at all, and if you only want to compile out one header or section, that menu in the Contents pane will help you out immeasurably in doing so. To make it so the entire binder is compiled, just change that selection back to “Draft”.

There are ways of restricting content at greater depths (or even higher depths, that is all flexible) and most of that can be done in the Formatting pane. That little “Text” column is the key to whether or not documents will export their contents in the compile. So if you had played around with this earlier, or were using one of the built-in presets that disables text, like Enumerated Outline, then you might have empty sections—this is why I recommended choosing Original as a starting ground, as it has a very basic method of output that doesn’t do anything fancy, and is thus a great way to eliminate weird results and gradually introduce complexity where it is needed.

Hi Eric,


Writing as a user, I can say that the learning curve is not long and steep. That’s because a) the software is generally quite intuitive, following a clear and carefully thought-through underlying philosophy and b) the materials to help you learn it are copious, clear and detailed, as good as any I’ve come across in Mac shareware. The system is not self-contained; in fact as a research-holding, structuring and drafting tool it’s specifically designed to output to other applications, word processors in particular.

For the degree of effort and time involved in getting to grips with the software, the pay-offs in writing ease are disproportionately great.

I see AmberV has addressed the specifics of your question. I’d merely add that I recommend the videos on this site ( and the interactive tutorial (under the application’s Help menu). If you haven’t reviewed the tutorial, it’s well worthwhile and will only take about an hour. Section 3, Step 16 is relevant to your query about compiling.


Also the Quick Start in the PDF included with the application does briefly go over compile at its most basic. The whole thing is designed to be a 15–30 minute affair, though you probably already grasp most of what it has to offer, from what it sounds like, such as the basic of moving things around in the binder and viewing them on a corkboard.

Just a note to add that you can’t compile things within the Research folder or anywhere outside of the Draft folder, if that’s what you were attempting.* Only the Draft folder compiles (with all sorts of settings, as described a bit above), because it’s specially designed to only include text documents, for one thing, whereas anywhere else in the binder you can keep any type of file which the compiler wouldn’t be able to make sense of. If you’re trying to include your Research notes as well as your manuscript documents, just move them up into a folder within the Draft document and they’ll appear in your compile options.

  • Actually, you can compile text documents that are kept outside the Draft folder if you pull them into a collection and then compile that collection, but you can’t do that at the same time as compiling the Draft folder so it won’t pull everything into a single document the way you’re describing. Also you lose hierarchy, etc. when moving into a collection, so I doubt this is a solution for you, but I wanted to mention it since my first statement wasn’t entirely true.


You’re taking me where I want to go. Couple of things I don’t understand: [1] Not sure what you mean by “saving ‘customizations’.” I’m taking it you’re referring to formatting of the document. In the very simple example I working with there is none. [2] I don’t see a “contents pane” in the left list if by “left list” you mean the binder.

Sorry to be so obtuse. I’ve perused the manual, but very briefly, and haven’t tried the video yet.

Thanks for the reassurance. As I said, I have the experience of complicated seemingly opaque software become highly intuitive. I’ll check out the video and the tutorial.

I take it the option of purchasing the software on disk, which included a printed copy of the manual, is no longer available.


Hi Eric:

First thing, in case you’re not seeing all this, is to click the disclosure button in the simplified Compile dialgoue so you can see all this stuff Ioa’s talking about:


After that you should see the Compilation Options over on the left, with Contents as the first option.


(Blue box is where you want to change the dropdown to “Original” if it says anything else.) The customizations Ioa was referring to were any changes you might’ve made in the Compile settings, but if you haven’t ever used the expanded view, then don’t worry about this. You should though see the “save” button down in the lower left now that you’ve opened it up, and you can use that to save any changes you do make to settings so you can load them again later.

I think MM already addressed everything that needs to be clarified in my original post; thanks!

As for this, it is just on hiatus until the text for the manual is stable and down to minor fixes here and there. Having been recently completed, there is still quite a bit more to do in terms of editing and clarification before it is ready to present in a bound copy. We have some nice plans for this though, so stay tuned.

Thanks MimeticMotion and AmberV for the followup to my questions. I took Hugh’s suggestion and worked my way through the Tutorial. Obviously I won’t retain it all, but at least I now have a better sense of what’s there and how it works, and I’m much better equipped to figure out how to do things. And I can see that there will be a lot things I’ll want to do that won’t even occur to me till after I’ve worked with it for a while.

My “printing a group of items as one document” problem wasn’t anything pressing. It was just me trying to figure things out without any understanding at all of what I was working with.

Thanks for you help, all of you.


You’re welcome! I hope you find the application to be as intuitive as it was designed to be. You are right it has a lot of depth—quite a lot depending on where you go with it—but at its most basic core it is our hope that it can be used without too much fuss.

Incidentally, I use Edit Scrivenings to make quick and dirty printouts for my own use. Just set up an Edit Scrivenings session with the files you want, and then use the Print Current Document option from the File menu. Quick and easy, no need to bother with a Compile.


Thanks, Katherine. That’s exactly what I wanted to do yesterday. If I hadn’t tried on my own, gotten flustered, and asked for help, though, I wouldn’t have learned what I learned – from the suggestions here and especially from the tutorial.

I’m looking forward to setting another project up in Scrivener after I get done with this one – a larger, more complicated one that I’ve gotten bogged down in in large part due to the cumbersome way I’ve been trying to juggle notes, drafts, revisions, etc., across multiple applications. Perhaps Scrivener will enable me to finish it.

Thanks again to everyone