Ready to format

I am finally done with my first book. Now, I have to learn how to compile it properly for submission to editors, publishers, or agents.

I am going through the Scrivener manual - although there is a lot to go through. When I was doing proposal editing, there were specific templates showing what was required in the editing process, text font size, caption font size, spaces between lines, and pts. (line spacing) in bulleted and numbered sections of text.

I know that Scrivener can split out a templated format such as “manuscript, times.” I have made a copy of this to try to better understand what I have to learn.

What I still do not completely understand is how customizing sections, non of which are currently set to my document, have to be customized, or how. This is what I will be studying for a while.

I also do not understand where to find that first page in a submitted manuscript that shows my contact information on the upper left side of the page. That is not a title page as far as I know, what is it then?

I have been making use of the print - preview to see a temporary PDF to test my output. Another important question is, what file type should I be compiling to send to a publisher? I don’t have an active version of Word, but Scrivener can output in Word format.

Also, there is a Scrivener preferred method of putting images in a separate folder and having the images come into placeholders when the document is compiled. I am not finding this so far in the manual. This is important as I have 40 images and 20 illustrations in my finished document/book.

Also, after reading advice on the net, it does not appear that having a Table of Contents is important. True?

Glad this is to this stage, its been hard work. Any tips or links to more information would be appreciated.


Hello David_G, and congratulations on getting this far with your project.

We have a 4-part video series titled “Getting Your Work Out” on the Mac tutorial videos page.

Those videos demonstrate using the built-in compile formats as well as show the customization process. Seeing them might be helpful, even for Windows users. The compile customization process is fairly similar in Scrivener 3 on both the macOS and Windows platforms.

As for specifics about the file type for submissions, how different sections should be formatted, and so on, that’s something to check with each publisher/agent/print-on-demand service you’re considering submitting to.

Each will have their own house requirements, and you can then customize your compile settings as needed.

Thanks. Yes, I already downloaded those four videos (Vimeo) and I plan to review them as I review the Scrivener manual. As far as what the publisher wants to see, I already have a two page form that asks questions that have been very helpful in honing my story by asking, what is your book about in one sentence, what is a short back cover type of summary, what is a quick summary of each chapter, who is my intended audience, and what need does my book fulfill, They also want two chapters to show a sample of my writing. I did not see any specific formatting requests, but this two page form is designed so that the publisher can decide if they want to look deeper. I guess I am just trying to understand sooner, rather than later, how Scrivener formats as output. I expect that, should my book be accepted and I am comfortable with the terms, then I will be informed as to the format that they are looking for.

Those were good, challenging questions though. Whether I get this publisher inserted or another, it has helped me to get to the point where, my book is tight enough to answer these questions. Whew!

FWIW this is a creative nonfiction book of my 40 year journey to find balance between God, myself, and my fellow men, women, and children after having had two near death experiences, doing 500 FEMA emergency housing inspections following hurricane Katrina, working with team building programs, death and dying, blind and deaf blind children and learning to overcome my own disabilities.


Find similar books and study their formatting. Unless it’s a picture book or you want text wrapping around images, Scrivener allows you to match almost anything you see in a book. It’s up to you to decide what you want your work to look like.

Of course, my book has to be pleasing to myself. The more genuinely I can do that, the more others will like it. However, I take a more pragmatic approach to getting published as a publishing house is a business, and the publishing house is in the business of making money. No doubt, they have many authors to review as they sort through a daily stack of submissions and writing samples, before finding the authors that, a. present subject matter they think they can sell (make a profit from), b. are well written using excellent prose and grammar and, c. presents subject matter that interests them. As I see it, a publishing house is a gateway to getting my book out into the world, getting it into bookstores, getting it widely distributed, and getting it widely read. I don’t think it is unreasonable to put my manuscript into a format that a publisher prefers.

Not paying attention to how a publisher wants my manuscript to be formatted (within reason), would be like showing up for a job interview in my pajamas, and saying to the potential employer, “Hey, I’m really great, you should hire me.” Or, maybe it would be a better idea to put on my best clothes, make good eye contact, etc. Since Scrivener can handle all that for me, all that is left is for me to learn how to use Sections, Front & Back Matter, etc.

As Monty Python once said, MY BRAIN HURTS! I expect a learning curve but now I am stuck on a basic point of order. Maybe someone here can help suggest something?

My book is laid out in two parts. This is somewhat like M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled”, which was also in two parts. My question is, how to I lay that out as sections, headings, sub-headings, etc.

Part One is “The Beginning”. It is an important piece and is the beginning of my story. It is not a preface or an introduction. I guess I would call it Chapter one, page one. But then, my chapters begin, after “The Beginning” with chapter titles, beginning with Chapter one, with three or more subsections in each chapter.

Part Two is "The End of the Beginning.” It is also an important piece, as it lays out the tone for the second part. The first part was a journey through all that I have been through. The Second part provides suggestions from what I have done about it, passing on the lessons I have learned along the way.

This is VERY hard for me to do. I would happily pay to have it done, in a microsecond. is there any way to determine by asking Literature and Latte if there are professional editing services available, which are also experts in formatting scrivener for my manuscript? Barring this, are there any services available to have my Scrivener document formatted for me, so that I can put out a manuscript that is profession so I can submit my manuscript?

If the publisher doesn’t offer formatting guidance, search for “Standard Manuscript Format.” The “Manuscript (Times)” and “Manuscript (Courier)” Compile Formats that Scrivener offers are derived from resources we’ve found, but are not authoritative.

Once you decide how to structure the manuscript, we can help make your output document reflect that, but the actual structure is up to you.

So I guess the first question is, where are you starting from? Do you have a Scrivener project broken into parts, chapters, etc.? Or do you have a single document that you imported into Scrivener from another program?

(If the latter, you might consider doing your final formatting in that other program. Scrivener’s greatest strengths are in the writing stage.)

I am completing a project that I started and developed in Scrivener. I am not asking how to structure my document per se, I only mentioned the structure as I am having trouble understanding the Scrivener Project settings, and I am trying to understand how to make the structure I already have, conform to the Project settings.

I started writing by using a blank Scrivener template. I did not select a specific template such as creative non fiction. Therefore, most of what is already set up in the standard Scrivener creative non fiction template, has not been available to me. When I started writing, I just started writing. I did not pay strict attention to any rule for where an idea should go. Often, I would simply gather sections with an idea, by dragging them over an overriding idea from another section. That is what most of my chapters look like, a text document with an overriding theme, with several text documents as sections residing under each overriding theme. With Scrivener, I can easily change a text document to a folder. That is why I am having so much trouble, as I still do not understand how to structure my document, so that what I have set up in Project settings, will do as I want it to do.


  • Customizing my compiler output has not been a problem for me when I customized output for PDF documents. This has become a big problem for me as I try to understand how to fine-tune the project settings for a formal manuscript output. When I opened a new template for creative non fiction, and put in my files to test how it is formatting, it compiles with a page break after the title page. But, examining the title page shows no character for a page break. How is this happening? What settings for this am I not seeing? When I customized output for PDF documents, I simply put a page break on the following page to solve this problem.

  • Why are the Title, ToC (contents), and Forward, set up in the stock template as “Front Matter”? My Title page and ToC pages are a part of my document, residing in the same folder as the rest of my document. I thought that as long as I set the project settings up appropriately, this should not matter in the compiler. Was this a mistake on my part? I do not understand the logic here. That is what is confusing me so much.

  • The stock template for Times manuscript, double spaces the lines. How is this happening? What settings for this am I not seeing?

  • The stock template for Times manuscript, sets a page break for every chapter, and every section. How is this happening? What settings for this am I not seeing?

  • Because I began this project using a blank Scrivener template, and not a creative non fiction template, is it easier to drag my current project into a creative non fiction template, and move my title and ToC pages under the “front matter” folder, or learn how to adjust the settings I already have?

Long ago I was an expert using Word, when I used Word to edit proposals for government contracts. To do that, I had to become very familiar with how Word does formatting, so that I was able to edit professional documents that had to be edited correctly, according to whatever submission guidelines were required. Here, my questions are about learning “how” Scrivener sets up formatting output, to allow me to understand, and to allow me to make adjustments so that what is compiled, is what I want.

1 Like

The page break would be coming from the Separators pane in the Compile Format editor. See Section 24.4 in the (Mac) Scrivener manual. Scrivener should offer you a variety of Section Layouts, some with page breaks and some without.

The Front Matter feature exists to facilitate using different sets of front matter for different output formats. It can also make it easier to manage, for instance, using different pagination for the front matter. It’s entirely optional, though. See page 573 in the manual for more information.

Both of these would be aspects of the Section Layout. Full details on editing Section Layouts can be found in Section 24.2 in the manual.

If you want a front matter folder, just create one in your current project.

If you want to experiment with the Creative Non-Fiction template, you might copy just a few chapters over there, leaving your original project intact. If it were me, I wouldn’t bother – anything the Creative Non-Fiction template can do, a Blank project can do – but it’s your call.

We can clear things up in one or more Zoom sessions, if you like. (I don’t do it for money per se, but I don’t turn down donations.)

one on one assistance

If that’s not enough, I can do the formatting.