Printing least number of pages for whole manuscript

Hi, I’m wanting to print my whole manuscript so that I can write on it, but want to do that with as least number of pages. Its only 30000 but was showing up as 466 pages which is costly to print.

I know I can type in notes etc… but I want to physically write with a pen on it before I take any next steps.

I use LO (LibreOffice) when needed, which has a function to reduce paragraph’s spacing in bulk. (While leaving any other formatting untouched.)

The other option is to tweak your compile format (save it as a new, dedicated one) to use less space where you may. (Paragraph spacing, margins, anything that could potentially reduce the page count without cluttering your print. – Use print to PDF for a preview.)

If you don’t care about formatting at all, you could compile to plain text.

As for the cost in ink, which is likely the biggest chunk, adjust the density of your print. (I personally compile to a red text color, and then print in black and white. I ran a few tests and found my best compromise, ink needed vs readability.)


I second Vincent’s advice re: minimizing all margins and removing line & page breaks. Also, don’t forget that a smaller font will decrease the number of pages.

What format are you compiling to, or are you just printing a selection? For example if you are compiling to paperback, there would be more pages because of the smaller page size; compiling to manuscript, it would all be double spaced (but maybe that’s preferable for your editing workflow?)

Reading again, I’m curious:
30K words should be more or less 120 pages.
See in your settings if by any chance you’re not set to print on postal stamps or something. :wink:

Are your pages the size of a pocket notebook?

There are some neat tricks you can employ with the basic Mac print tools available to Scrivener and just about everything else you run, that can dramatically cut down on printing costs, but I’ll come back to that.

The main issue is that the result you are currently getting is not remotely within the realm of expected. 30,000 words printing on 466 pages is way off. Even at double-spaced 12pt you should only be getting around 170 pages, and double-spacing is a waste unless you really want to write between lines (more economical is a wider left or right margin to write in). So let’s try that:

  1. Open File ▸ Compile... and in the left sidebar, select the Proof Copy compile Format.
  2. In the middle preview column, click Assign Section Layouts..., and choose some appropriate layouts, like “Chapter Title” and “Section Text”.
  3. At the top of the preview column, pick whatever font you’re comfortable with if you don’t like monospace.
  4. Now let’s trim the wasteful formatting. Double-click on the Format in the left sidebar to edit it.
  5. Find the bold chapter heading style you selected, in the Section Layouts list, and in the New Pages tab below, set *Pad top of page with… to zero.
  6. For the Section Text layout, in the Formatting tab, click into the sample text and set the line-height to 1.0. Set the font size to the smallest you can tolerate on a printed page. This can be huge, note how much space is saved between 10pt and 12pt just in the short preview text here.
  7. Click on the Page Settings section, and then the Margins button. I set it up for 1cm all around, save for a 5cm right margin to have some space to jot down notes. This will, in a 30k word document, cost you about ten pages total (using a 10pt font). This is in comparison to double-spacing, which will cost forty pages. I can get a 55 page output with the most compact setup (no extra margins, double-spaced lines) which nowhere to write, and around 65 pages with a padded right margin.

Certainly, even with the most bloated setup (this format at default settings), I am nowhere near 466 pages though, so you should be able to get that way down even without tweaking its settings significantly.

Now for the printer tricks:

  • Well first of all, it’s a no-brainer to turn on full duplex printing to cut the physical sheets used in half. If your printer can’t do that, there is the old trick of setting the print job to only print the odd pages, flip the stack over, put it back in the tray, and only print even pages. You’ll find “Odd only” and “Even only” under Sheets to print in the “Paper Handling” section of the print dialogue.
  • While there, note the Layout section of the print dialogue. If your eyes can manage it, try printing two pages per sheet. This is how I used to proof back when I still used paper. Note if you go down this route, you will probably want to tweak the font size a bit and run some single-page tests.

With those two techniques, we can get from 55 physical sheets of paper down to 28. You probably won’t get much further than that without requiring a loupe. No need for the large right margin with the 2-page layout since there will be plenty of whitespace around the pages.

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@AmberV :slight_smile:
Perhaps you could add a link to your instructions on printing with paragraph numbering.
I am pretty sure it is also of interest.

EDIT : I think that’s the one :


As others have noted, something is wrong. I got more than double that number of words on less than 400 pages without doing anything dramatic to try to reduce it. Standard (US) manuscript format (12 pt., double spaced, letter-sized paper) should give you about 250 words per page.

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Do you by chance have embedded images that may be bloating your page count?


Thank you for all the replies, just reading after work.

I can see what the problem is though not sure how it’s occurred, but the 30 000 words ends on page 127 , but on the next page it’s created another chapter and filled it with text from a previous chapter and has kept on doing this so that’s how it’s come to 466 pages. Really not sure what has made it do that. I can at least just print the 127, but won’t to prevent it doing this again

The issue is that either you aren’t compiling the documents you think you are, or you’ve somehow appended extra text onto the end of the last document.

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Thank you, appreciate your response, and apologies for late reply, as only just had time to relook at this.

I did it again and same thing happened BUT then tried again: File-Compile and then looked at box on right hand side under manuscript-it has all my chapters and scrolling down i see it then has ‘whole book’ and chapters repeated once and then in random order (don’t know why), I unticked all superflous ones and clicked compile. All was then well and I now have a pdf of only my novella without all the repeat and muddled up chapters- phew.

Now I have to try and work out how it listed all those repeated chapters plus randomly arranged ones, as they don’t show on the left of my binder. Still get used to Scrivener

Here are a couple of sanity checks for the binder and draft folder, and an efficient way to clean things up safely:

  1. First, use the Navigate ▸ Reveal Draft Folder menu command. This will simply address one potential point of confusion: whether you are even looking at the full binder (as opposed to search results, for example), as that will return you to it. Click on the highlighted Draft folder in the sidebar to load it into the main editor (it might be called something else if you changed the name or used a template that did).
  2. Switch the main editor to Outline mode, at the top of the View menu, and then click into the editor to make it active rather than the binder sidebar.
  3. Now use the View ▸ Outline ▸ Expand All menu command, to open up all of the folders and subfolders in the Draft.

At some point, as you scroll down, you’ll probably come across the point of duplication.

  1. What I would do is select from that point down (you can click on the first duplicate, then scroll all the way down and Shift-click to select the whole range), and then use the Documents ▸ New Folder from Selection menu command. This will nest everything into a folder.
  2. Call it something like “duplicate copy of manuscript”, and drag and drop it somewhere outside of the Draft folder, in the binder to the left. Research is fine, or just anywhere at the top level, by dragging into the background of the binder.

Now you should have only the primary draft of your manuscript in Draft, and thus compile should only be using that.

Lastly, in your shoes I would load that “duplicate copy” folder into the Outliner, right-click in the column header area, add “Include in Compile”, and then Opt-click on any checkbox to turn everything back on. It’s up to you, but leaving them excluded like that might lead to confusion, should you find some of these duplicates are actually newer and better copies of what you have in the Draft folder. You drag it over, compile, and maybe not even notice it isn’t in the result at first. It can be easy to miss that kind of thing. I like to use that checkbox only for things I know I’ll never want in the final output, like chapter notes.

But that overall is something to consider, and a good argument for putting these duplicates aside rather than just trashing them. Since they have been in the Draft folder this whole time, it’s not unlikely edits may have gone into the wrong place on accident.

In short, moving these duplicates out of the Draft folder is an all around better way of not compiling them, than leaving them there with the checkbox off.

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