"Right Indent" is extremely misleading (Scrivener 3)

I spent a good half an hour struggling to figure out what I was doing wrong before I figured out that the “Right Indent” formatting item is not, in fact, an indentation, but is setting the distance from the left edge of the page at which lines wrap.

That function is fine, it ultimately does what I need it to do (or at least close enough), but it is definitely not an indent! The way it’s currently labelled, you would expect to be able to put 1" into Left Indent and 1" into Right Indent and have it evenly spaced within the page, with the text indented 1" from the edges. In fact, entering these numbers limits your line length to 0" and wraps after only one character.

I think that the “Right Indent” formatting option should be renamed something more accurate, such as “Line Length”. (Unless the functionality is intended to be an indentation distance from the right edge of the page and this is a bug, in which case I’ll put in a report over there instead.)

All tabs and indents are set relative to “zero,” which is the edge of the Editor window. This is necessary because the Compile command allows you to change the paper size, and so indenting from the right edge of the “paper” can give unpredictable results.

(In Page View, zero will be the left margin, as the paper size is – temporarily – known. But all indents are still relative to that zero.)


I’ve never heard this argument before, that where a measurement’s origin starts from should define how a thing is referred to in its end product. To me it is the result that matters—where in this case, the right edge of the text block is pulled in from the margin, hence operating as a visual indent to the reader’s eye. It is an indent that we seek to create.

Whether that is measured from the left edge of the paper (as RTF does), or as an offset that is added to a value that is itself an addition to the right side (like HTML does), or whether you establish that distance in points, millimetres or percentages of display widths is really immaterial to my mind. These are mechanical matters of production, not descriptions of the product we seek.

For future reference by the way, §15.7 goes over most of the formatting tools in Scrivener, and how they are designed to work. This in particular is discussed in the subsection on Indents, within §15.7.1:

Tee hee! Ioa! I think you’re getting a little too pontifical, here.

Your citation of the manual is appropriate and clearly describes how Scrivener works however what we’re talking about here is not how to get it done in Scrivener but the OP’s dismay at the Scrivener behavior running counter to decades of practice (however appropriate Scrivener’s behavior is for ease of compilation). And in consequence, perhaps, attention should be paid to making this difference obvious in the documentation or even the interface.

Virtually all word processors consider a right indent to be how much the text is pushed-in from the right margin. And, in fact, most typesetting systems did it the same way too. So, using my dimly remembered memory of Varityper Epics coding from the mid-eighties, you get " [LL 36 IR 6] Blah, blah, blah." Line length 36 picas; indent right 6p from the line length. Gawrsh! Almost 40 years of convention! Maybe people are taken aback when you say, [LL 36 IR 30] ?

:smiley: :smiley:


Scrivener is not WYSIWYG, nor is it a typesetter. It uses a completely different model, and thus needs to work differently. The problem is not that this difference is not adequately noted; the problem is that many people insist on bringing their old habits and expectations with them into a new piece of software.

Oh! Come on!

First of all, don’t you enjoy my tweaking of AmberV’s pontifical stance!? Jeez!

Second, Scrivener looks like a word processor, uses most of the terms common to word processors (Indent right, cough), and yet in this case behaves differently. That’s a minor problem but it’s a problem because unlike you, DevinGanger, who has been contributing to these forums for 10 years, the vast majority of users have no idea that Scrivener is any different than the Microsoft Word that they had to learn in high school or college and they bark their shins regularly on the differences. So. In this case, where Indent Right (a rather common command) performs utterly differently in Scrivener from what they’ve experienced, you need to give them some help.


Virtually all word processors define the page size – and the right margin – at the very beginning of the project. Scrivener does not, and in fact it is possible to Compile the exact same text to paperback format, to standard US Letter Size, and to an ebook format.

Users who “bark their shins” on the differences between Scrivener and other tools are encouraged to look at the Interactive Tutorial, available from the Help menu, which exists for exactly that purpose.




Remember that old phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink?”

Manual. Interactive tutorial. Forums. Blog posts. Videos.

It’s awfully moist.