Redefining a preset

New to Scrivener and loving it. I’ve started converting a complex writing project into a Scrivener project. I’ve imported a Pages document by saving it as a DOC document, importing it into Nisus, saving it as an RTF document, then importing it into Scrivener.

I’m using the APA template and will be modifying it as I proceed in bring all the documents of the project into Scrivener. I’ve redefined the Body preset using “redefine preset from selection.” One thing I wanted to do with the redefined preset was to remove the indent from the first line. In redefining the preset I used a paragraph without an indent, but when I use the redefined preset to reformat text the indent is not removed.

How can I redefine the preset so the first-line indent is removed when I use it?


This should work. Make sure that the paragraph you’re choosing has the first-line indent tab all the way to the left, as it sounds like you are, and that when you save the re-defined preset you’re choosing either to save “all formatting” or “paragraph style.” If it’s only saving the character attributes, then the paragraph formatting like indents won’t be saved.

That said, if you’re using your “body” preset as your main text style, it may be easier to redefine the default formatting to be what you want and then just use other presets for special formatting such as blockquotes, which you may not have as frequently. The presets are like Mac OS styles and not dynamic, so redefining one won’t change the formatting for text that already has that format applied–you’ll have to go select it all again and reapply it. Changing the main text style (either globally or for the specific project) will allow you to easily convert everything if you change your mind about formatting later.

Caveat–converting to the default text style will change everything (with limitations, e.g. you can select to only change font, to not change spacing, etc., but it will apply to the entire document or documents selected) so you’d want to use “preserve formatting” to prevent your other presets from altering (or define what attributes should be preserved). You can easily set the preset itself to include “preserve formatting” the same way you set it normally (just set the text you select to also have “preserve formatting” before you define the preset) so that’s not necessarily bad or difficult. It may even be a boon, since it will keep you from accidentally altering your painstakingly formatted work. Downside might be that you’d have a lot of text with a light-blue background and dotted borders, which could be distracting.

Anyway, just throwing it out there. Obviously, choose what’s best for you.

That was the problem. I didn’t have the ruler displayed, so didn’t think of using the tabs on it to change the format.

I see the point of that. But it appears that the formatting of the document I’ve imported has overridden the default formatting, so I think I have to use presets to bring the overall formatting into conformity with the default – or maybe not?

While I’m at it here, I take when you speak of changing formatting globally you’re referring to settings in Preferences. Where/how do you change them for a project?

I’m not following you here. Are you saying in redefining the default I should be careful to change only those aspects of formatting I want to change and not to override those I want to preserve?

For the most part, imported text will retain its original formatting, but you can easily convert it all to your Scrivener preferences by selecting the documents and choosing Documents>Convert>Formatting to Default Text style. This will bring up a box to let you fine-tune slightly whether you want to adjust everything–font family, size, spacing, indentation, etc.–and will then convert the text to match your settings in the preferences, either globally or, if you have chosen to override those for this project, with the project-specific preferences.

To set the main text style globally, go to Scrivener>Preferences:Formatting and tweak the example text in the box to appear as you want it. You can set the indentation, the font size, spacing, color, etc. (Note that the “preset” box here is not to define those presets but just a quick way of making one of these pre-defined styles your default text–it’s just applying the preset to the text, the same as if you were working in the editor. I think there are still some bugs lurking there so you’re really best off not touching those while in this pane.) If you have the text already set the way you want it in your main editor, you can select a sample there and then in the Preference box choose “use current.”

To set the text style for a specific project, you can use Project>Text Preferences… and do the same thing there, checking the box to override the main style.

Sorry, I was unclear. Defining the default to whatever you want it is perfectly safe, since it’s defining it in sample text and will then only apply it by default to new documents created in Scrivener (so not imported text). When you set up the defaults, you’re setting everything–font, size, spacing, indentation, etc–the way it should appear for new documents. You can of course always override any or all of this when working on the text itself in the editor, just like in any other word processor; you can select a paragraph and pick a different font or color some text or change the indentation. This is just the default for when you start typing in a new document.

The cautionary remark was for when you choose to convert pre-existing text to that formatting. The conversion works on the document level, so you can’t select just specific text in a document to convert to default by that method. And the same way a preset with all formatting saved–paragraph and character attributes–will override whatever the original formatting was, so will converting to the default text style override the current formatting. So if, for instance, you have carefully designed a blockquote to have a large margin on either side and a smaller text size and tighter spacing than the surrounding text, you’ll want to mark that specially to “preserve formatting” (select it and choose Format>Formatting>Preserve Formatting) so that when you convert the document to the default style, Scrivener doesn’t unwittingly wipe your hard work and replace it with the indentation, spacing, and font size of the main text style.

Some of that could be avoided by choosing carefully among the options Scrivener presents when you click to convert the text, but the Preserve Formatting feature also comes into play at the end when you compile, letting you use Scrivener to do the final formatting while still preserving the sections of text you’ve very specifically formatted already. §14.4.5 of the manual explains the feature a bit more explicitly. It’s handy for setting apart chunks of special text that you need to define with different formatting while still allowing you to easily manipulate the “regular” text of your documents.

Did that help at all? I can try to explain it better if not, or refer you to the manual where it’s all gone over in greater detail. :wink:

Got it. Very helpful. This, too:

I think I get this, too. It’s possible to set portions of text so that their special formatting is preserved when doing a global reset

This, however, I’m struggling with. Since it’s a parenthetical, perhaps it’s not critical that it be clarified:

Thanks much,

I’m glad most of it helped! As for the last bit, no, it’s really not important and I should probably not have put it in–or I should have made myself clearer, since my intention was to help you avoid some snags that I’ve seen other people run into. So that was poorly done on my part, and I apologize.

Basically what I meant to say was that in the Formatting preference pane, where you set the default main text style, you’ll see the “preset” dropdown on the format bar. Selecting a preset from this dropdown will act just like selecting one when working in the regular editor–it will assign that preset to your text. So if you choose a preset in the preference pane, what you’re doing is assigning the formatting of that preset to be your default formatting for everything.

Occasionally this has confused people; they’ve envisioned it as going the other way around, where you select a preset from the list and then alter the text in the sample to redefine the preset. It doesn’t work that way, though, which is all I was trying to say. I just did a bad job of it. :wink:

The other point was that there are currently some bugs with choosing a preset while in the Preference pane which can lead to you getting formatting into your default text style that you can’t get rid of except by selecting “clean” text from the editor and clicking “use current.” So until those get fixed, you probably just want to avoid choosing from the presets while in the Preference pane. (These aren’t problems for your normal usage, applying presets to text in the editor.)

Bah, that was longwinded. Did I help or just make it worse? :confused:

Very clear. And an important heads up. Thanks. It’s a bit counter-intuitive. I would have assumed it modified the preset only for the project.

Another important heads up. And clear. Thanks.

Hi - I think I’ve followed the correct procedure, but the bullets and indents of list entries aren’t getting saved when I create or redefine presets. I’m expecting that I can define a list entry and then create a bullet preset from it - I’ve done that for Text bullet, Text dash, and Text indent, but the paragraph info doesn’t seem to be saved. The font, size, weight, and line spacing seem to be fine for the Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3 presets that I defined. Is there a known bug or limitation? Or are there some hints that you can pass along? Thanks very much! Keith


I don’t think presets will work for saving bullets or lists, which is down to the way Apple have implemented bullets and lists in the text system. The presets can only save formatting, but bullets and lists also contain text - the actual bullet or number at the start of each item is juts regular text, added by the “add bullet” action (from the format bar or “Lists…” sheet). A “list” formatting setting is applied to the text, but it doesn’t do much - it just seems to tell the text system to add another bullet or number if one was present in the last item. If there isn’t one present, then no bullet or number is added. Thus, when you save bullet or list formatting in presets, the formatting does get saved (the “this is a list” part), but there is no way to save the actual bullet or list text.

What you can do is type the beginning of the list yourself. For instance, if you save a preset for the list type “1. …”, you would type [tab, 1, period, tab] and then apply the preset. After this, hitting return should create the next list item and suchlike.

In general, bullets and lists are a bit of a black box in Cocoa’s text system (you wouldn’t believe the contortions I had to do just to add the bullets list to the format menu - and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to drop that for the App Store just to get Scriv accepted…)

All the best,