Questions About Novel Standard Manuscript Format

Sorry if this has been answered somewhere else.

I’m not sure what’s happening here, but when I compile a multi-chapter document using the default novel template, Scrivener double-spaces the text and inserts tabs at the beginning of each paragraph as expected, but it also inserts an extra line between every paragraph and it doesn’t start each new chapter with a page break. Maybe I’m missing something here, but cleaning all this up in a 120,000-word manuscript would be an incredible chore, to say the least.

I’m compiling with Novel Standard Manuscript Format and exporting to a Word doc.

Thanks for any suggestions.

I’m using version 022 (latest beta, I think).


Hi gcarson,

Sorry, I saw this before but didn’t have a chance to test. Now the templates aren’t present in the 022 download, so I’m working with a Novel (with Parts) project created from the Mac version. None of the compile settings came over with that, since it’s a different set up, so I had to fix them myself. That, combined with me not having Word installed at the moment, is making this not exactly a clean test.

All the same, compiling to both .doc and .rtf (Word compatible), I don’t get the additional spaces between paragraphs you’re talking about, but I do see that the page breaks just will not come out, whether I choose page break for the text/folder separator or if I check the boxes for “page break before” on all the appropriate folders. Also those checks don’t save in the compile settings–next time I open it to try again, they’ve vanished. (That may be something mentioned earlier and not necessarily related to this immediate problem–they’re present when I click the “compile” button, after all.)

For the spacing problem, in your compile settings, click the “…” button if you haven’t already so that you see all the expanded options, then go to the Formatting pane. Scroll down in the sample text area until you see the “Text” label and the paragraph below it and select that paragraph, then click on the spacing drop-down menu in the format bar there and click “Other”. Check to make sure that there’s no additional spacing added before or after paragraphs–that wouldn’t add an actual carriage return, but it would look as though there were an additional line, so it’s possibly the problem.

Otherwise, this is a silly question, but are you sure that in the documents in Scrivener you haven’t used an extra carriage return to separate paragraphs when your spacing was different?

Thanks. When I checked the custom compile settings, the text you mentioned was double-spaced.

Question: when I’m writing in Scrivener, I don’t enter tabs at the beginning of each paragraph and I double-space between paragraphs. Is this right?

All right, testing this further with the template from beta 023, it looks like the template compile settings just aren’t set right because it’s been ported from the Mac and not fixed up, and as the compile pane is significantly different, the settings don’t copy over. This is something that will get fixed up, definitely, but yes, it’s not quite there at the moment.

With that, it also seems that there’s a bug inserting page breaks, as I mentioned above–neither checking “page break before” nor choosing “page break” as the separator is actually inserting the page break. I’ll drop a note about that specifically as a bug report to be sure Lee sees it.

Meanwhile, since you’re compiling to MS Word, cleaning your manuscript there really won’t be such a terrible chore, since you can use Find/Replace to whip through this. First, since the page break isn’t working, in your compile settings under “separators” choose “Custom” from the drop-down menu for the Text and Folder Separator (the last one on the list) and put some unique string there, e.g. “$$PAGEBREAK$$”. If you also want your folder/folder separator as a page break (e.g. your Part folder will be a separate page from the following Chapter folder) do the same thing in there, using the same string.

Once you’ve opened the compiled document in Word, use the Find/Replace feature to search for that string and replace it with a page break (which should be available via the “More” options in the Find/Replace pane). So that takes care of that. For the double carriage returns, run the Find/Replace again, searching for double returns and replacing with a single (also available via the “More” menu).

So that should fix your formatting now, and this should also get easier once the compile feature is debugged and inserts your page breaks correctly. :wink:

Not entering tabs is best, yes; just use the ruler to set the indent where you want it. That way when you compile, it’s easy to change if you like by overwriting the formatting.

Double-spacing is a different issue. If you mean that you hit the return key twice, then that’s why you’re seeing it after you compile. Compile won’t remove the extra carriage return, so you’ll need to do that yourself as explained above.* In the future, you can emulate this by just changing your spacing. From the format bar, choose “Other Spacing…” from the spacing drop-down menu, and then bump up the before or after paragraph spacing to something like 8 or 10pt. That will give you the appearance of the extra line without actually inserting a character, so when you compile and override your formatting, you can easily change it without having to run a find/replace.

  • At the moment it doesn’t seem Scrivener can handle this, although I may have just not figured it out for Windows. I’ll drop a note on that, too, since it’s a nice feature (and is one the Scrivener version has), to see if/when it might be available. It’s less urgent than the bug fixes, though, since it’s easily fixed in Word or other word processors after export.