Problems in Outline mode

I am not sure what I am doing, but Scrivener keeps scrambling my outline, putting Part III at the top, Part I at the bottom. It does this among the bigger folders, and within each folder too, putting the last scenes first. I have had to rearrange manually multiple times. Clearly I have been using some kind of keystroke combination that causes this, an easy fix, but what is it? And how do I switch it back without having to rearrange the outline manually each time? If anyone can help with this, I would be so grateful. One of the reasons I am using Scrivener is to be able to play around in Outline mode, but not like this!

The only commands that can physically alter the order of items in the outliner are in the Documents/Sort/ sub-menu. If there are any custom shortcuts assigned to these items, you’ll see them in that menu. We do not apply any default shortcuts to them.

Otherwise, there is display sorting which doesn’t physically impact the order of items. In that case all you have to do is click the outliner column you wish to sort by, and then click it until the highlight on the header bar goes away, to disable sort.

It sounds to me as though you are using the latter form of sort. Physical sorting only works one layer at a time, but display sorting will sort each siblings together all the way down the hierarchy. So your level 1 “part” folders would be sorted among themselves, and their level 2 “scene” files would be sorted among each other, on all the way down the hierarchy.

Thank you for responding so quickly, AmberV.

The Documents/Sort/ sub menu is grayed out, so I don’t have access to it, so you are probably right on that score. But I don’t understand why Scrivener would perform a “display” sorting. What does that mean? If a display sorting doesn’t physically impact the order of the items, why is the order changed when I look at the outline? And by what criteria is Scrivener overriding my story sequence to sort the items? Alphabetically? And why? This does not make sense. When you say “click on the highlighter column until the highlight goes away to disable sort,” do you mean that if I highlight a column, even casually or by mistake, Scrivener will change the sequence in that column?

If this happens again, I will have to stop using Scrivener, as it is terrifying --not to mention a waste of time-- to have to manually go through this again and again to recreate what I had in the first place.

To preface, I still don’t know for sure if sorting by an outliner column is what happened (though it is an exact match for your description), it could be something else. So if you’re looking at your outliner columns and nothing is highlighted, maybe we need to do some more digging. I would suggest posting a screenshot of your outliner.

As I say, clicking in the column headers in the outliner will sort by that column. Clicking once will sort ascending, clicking again, descending, then finally another click to disable (and at that point the column ceases to be highlighted).

For the same reason that if you sort your songs in iTunes by their durations it won’t change the track order of the album. And like iTunes, when you turn off sorting in Scrivener, everything goes back to the original order. That is what is meant by a display sort—the display of the items is sorted, not the items.

By the column that you click on—by the outliner column header that is highlighted in dark grey. I mentioned the Modification Date column as an example, but you could sort by title alphabetically, or by whether items are included or excluded in compile, labels, keywords, word counts—anything that can be added to the Outliner as a column can be used to sort.

Yes, I’m not sure how else things could work. Software is dirt stupid. It doesn’t know what you want to do. It doesn’t even know if you personally did what it was told to do. If the columns are sorted because a basketball fell on your mouse, Scrivener won’t know. All it got was a click event within a rectangular region of space on your monitor occupied by the column header in question—and poof, things are sorted.

To be clear, the “highlight” referred to is not on the entire column, just the column header:SortedOutliner.png

Clicking into the column in the outliner doesn’t affect the sorting; clicking on the column header does, and will place the little triangle to the right of the header text to indicate if it is an ascending or descending sort. Third click on the header will toggle it back to unsorted and the triangle and darker colour will disappear.

And just to clarify, it won’t actually change anything, it will just display them in the outliner that way - sorted. It won’t actually reorder them internally or in the binder, it’s just a display option. Clicking on the header again will sort it in the opposite direction, and clicking on the header a third time will get rid of the sort and display them back in the order you arranged them in.