Scrivener 3: Problem with Front Matter

I have, with effort, gotten the format of my novel to resemble the way it looked in Scrivener 2.
In my format, scenes are separated by hashtags (#). However, these hashtags are also showing up on the Front Matter files.

When I use Structure-Based formatting, Front Matter shows up as a ‘scene’ (thus the hashtag separators). So I set up “Front Matter” as a Section Type in the Project Settings. However, when I go to the next tab, Default Sections by Structure, I see no place to set the “Front Matter” type. Root files, Level 1 and Level 2 are all set to Scenes (as in Scrivener 2, they were all set to “text”, with the Front Matter set to “As is.”

Nevertheless on the compile screen, I set all the Front Matter files to my created section “Front Matter.” In the format I created for my novel, I set Front Matter to the “As Is” choice.

No matter what I do I can’t get rid of the hashtag between the Front Matter files.
I’ve also noticed that the Project Setting randomly reverts back to a blank entry box.

Can’t say I’m happy with Scrivener 3… I had to restore Scrivener 2 from my Time Capsule, renamed it Scrivener 2 (just as I’ve now renamed the new update "Scrivener 3). Will continue to work in 2 until I solve the Front Matter problem

Please help.

P.S. Yes, I did the interactive Tutorial, and yet I watched the three Scrivener vids on compiling format.

You can go to the Front Matter folder itself in the Binder and in the Inspector > Metadata pane you can set it (and all its subdocs) to your frontMatter section type.

Sounds like in your Compile Format the Section Layout you are assigning your front matter to has the Separator Between Sections set to hashtag.

In the tutorial video where they show some moves involving front matter, they set up a Section Style specifically for their front matter. At this particular moment, it shows the panel where you would set/remove that hashtag-between item:
See minute 7:28 in the fourth compile video.

Thank you, GR… that was very thorough.

However, the only way I was able to get my format back was by reloading the original S2 file back in S3 under a new name. Then I made a copy of the “Manuscript (Courier)” format. And worked backwards painstakingly changing fonts and buffer spaces to approximate my S2 style,

It took me 14 hours to figure this out. I’m writing this at 4 am.

I do not recommend S3.

The redesign exhibits poor, counter-intuitive design choices.

In S2, the format options were all on one panel. In S3 you have to hunt all around the program to make a change. Things that should be easy to change are maddeningly set in place and won’t budge…until you find where the switches are hiding … a total drag.

If you’re happy with S2, you don’t need the learning curve of v. 3.

I salvaged S2 from Time Capsule, as I mentioned above. I will probably continue with that. Scrivener remains an excellent writing tool.

That’s your choice, of course.

But it you look back through this forum it’s full of people who were baffled by the way S2 dealt with compilation – you don’t find it difficult now, but if you didn’t spend a lot of time learning how to make it work for some quite basic circumstances, then you’re quite unusual.

A lot of us beta testers (by definition experienced users) have had to unlearn some of the byzantine things we had to do to bend compilation to our needs in V2: once we’ve got through that (which really wasn’t a long process), we’ve found the new system to be simpler, but also more powerful. That’s not us defending something for the sake of it — it’s come from months of using the new system for real.

If you have a V2 project that’s on a deadline, then finishing it with V2 makes perfect sense. But I think you’ll be missing out on a lot of the new features (not just in compilation) if you don’t at some point try to understand how it works and apply it from scratch to a new project.

Of course, you are entitled to your opinion and if you prefer Scrivener 2’s system, fair enough. However, the redesign was the result of months of thought and work, with ideas thrown out and reworked over and over again until it was right. Obviously you do not deal with the support questions we do, but we know that Scrivener’s Compile system has been one of the biggest barriers to using Scrivener for years. The average user found Scrivener 2’s Compile system difficult to understand and overly complex. They had to run through a gamut of features just to change whether a chapter title was included. And if they wanted to apply custom Compile formatting, they had to think in terms of outline structure - is my scene a level 2 document or a level 3 document? Many, many users struggled with this.

The redesign does not scatter settings across the app. It splits them up in a logical way. In Scrivener 2, the Compile settings were messy in that they combined project-level settings with Compile format settings that could be used across projects, and it was not obvious which was which. In Scrivener 3, the differences are clearly demarcated. There are Compile formats, which can be used with any project. And then in your project, you simply define what sort of item each document is using Section Types. When you Compile, you use Compile Formats to set the formatting for each of your Section Types.

Users comfortable with thinking in outline levels can use Project Settings to determine the default Section Types for a project using a system that is the same as the old Compile Format levels. Users not comfortable with this no longer have to touch levels and can just assign Section Types manually if they really want to.

And because Compile Formats are no longer mixed in with project settings, they are now much more flexible. For instance, consider these different project structures for a novel:

  1. Use folders for chapters and documents inside the folders for scenes.
  2. Use folders for parts, folders inside those folders for chapters, and documents inside those folders for scenes.
  3. Use folders for parts, use documents inside them each to contain a single chapter.
  4. Just write each chapter in a single document in the Draft.

In Scrivener 2, because Compile formats were predicated on project structure, it would have required four different Compile formats to accommodate these four different ways of structuring a project. In Scrivener 3, it requires only a single Compile format for all four structures. The Compile format simply provides Section Layouts for part headings, chapter headings, scenes and whole chapters, and can then be used with any structure by assigning the Section Layouts to the Section Types.

And talking of front matter, in Scrivener 2, you had to change the front matter option every time you switched formats. So, if you switched from printing a PDF to generating an ePub, and you had different front matter for each, you would have to manually switch front matter in Compile. Not in Scrivener 3 - in Scrivener 3, a project remembers which front matter is assigned to each Compile Format.

Yes, there is some re-learning involved for users of Scrivener 2. I’m putting together a separate tutorial project for such users seeing as some are having difficulties adapting. But the new Compile system is far more flexible and so far seems to be proving easier to use for new users of Scrivener.

I don’t know if I am odd, if I am missing something, if I am doing things wrongly, if I am lucky, if my brain just adapts, or if my projects are super simple, but I have found the Scrivener 3 compile very easy to use (and Scrivener 2 compile as well).

From installation to doing test compiles of an old novel—and getting 99% of what I expected to match old S2 compiles in both ebook and paperback format—took about fifteen minutes. Sure, lots still to learn and to properly master, but colour me impressed at how sassy and (to me) intuitive the new compile is in S3.

Okay, but this all sounds like it is about some different issue you were having than the one you broached here. I am sorry we didn’t have the opportunity to help with this other issue, since whatever your solution was took such time. I can’t quite imagine what would have made you have to go in and “painstakingly change fonts and buffer spaces” in your draft!

Anyway, sorry it has made you unhappy and hope you got some good rest after such toil.

All the Best,

P.S. FWIW, here is my experience: My first impulse also was to try to revamp an existing project with the new compile, but for me this turned out a confusing way to learn what I needed to learn. It made me approach the matter at the wrong level – piecemeal, because I was thrown into a kind of patch-up mode, trying to find where I could tweak one thing to effect one output difference. This did feel like it sent me all over the board, because I was each time hunting for a switch. The problem with this approach, is that what has changed about compile is more fundamental – it is conceptually different. And so what I needed to understand was a new paradigm. So, I found it helpful to step back and work with some newly created test projects – to learn the ins and outs – in short, to put myself back to school with it. Then I could reapproach my existing projects. Maybe my compile needs are much simpler than yours (though I have a few projects which boast a cleverness I am proud of!), but in the end I have not found any of my projects required hours of work to retool. And it has to be said, getting compile beauty out of new projects is a snap – I envy those new users who are just going to get that goodness upfront!

GREAT GREAT IDEA, KB: I look forward to your tutorial that will take S2 users through the S3 changes. That will be very helpful…and it is necessary.

GR : Importing my S2 novel style into S3, I did start by making changes on a macro level, in the Project Settings. My novel style, which isn’t at all complicated, ran with a few hiccups that, while they took time to solve, were logical fixes. It was only the Front Matter that behaved erratically, as that matter is out of the flow of the normal folder hierarchy, among other peculiarities. In S2, the Front Matter just did it’s thing without me ever having to think twice about it.

I’ve decided to stick with S3, and yes, I spoke too soon. I was coming off 14 hours of frustration to remove hashtags that was showing up in the Front Matter.

Thank you for the thoughtful responses. I do not love the new interface … as yet. But KB and Brookter remind me it took many trials and errors to understand and use S2 effectively.

KB contends the new compile system is simpler. Simpler is not necessarily better if you’ve sacrificed flexibility. If options have been removed. For instance, S3, like S2, provides the option to capitalize the first, say, five words of a chapter in small caps. In S2, you can specify to have that effect only at the beginning of a chapter. Setting up that effect in S3, the effect repeats at the start of all the various scenes within the chapter (surprise, I like this better… but what if I didn’t? What if I wanted the old option back to make only the start of a chapter have this distinctive small-cap beginning?)

Similarly, I set up my chapters to begin with no indent. This effect now cascades through all the scenes within the chapter. Again, surprise, I like the effect, but it is not an option I can reverse if I wanted to. Or is that too hiding in some obscure submenu of a submenu?

I feel like one of those cranky old monks in the Middle Ages who has learned to translates from Latin, Greek and Aramaic… and then the Bible comes out in the local language, and the monk finds his skills not only depreciated but his own native language, and the novel forms it takes in this new vernacular Bible, a confounding mystery to him.

Bottom line, I am married to the excellent Scrivener and will stick with my new wife, S3.
Thank you for your quick and thoughtful responses.

Nothing like a good nights rest! :wink:

I think Sv3 has even your alternate self covered here! Using the Default compile format as an example (and assuming first that your chapter headings occupy their own page): in the compile edit panel: Section Layouts > Text Section > New Pages: set the small caps setting. As the note there says, the effect only kicks in when a page break separation occurs before the section in question started. Make sure you are not overriding that with the checkbox under the small caps settings there. Now, assuming your chapter headings are occupying a page of their own, things should work just as your alternate self would have wanted – you would not see small caps lead-ins at the start of mere scene breaks (unless you are kicking in a page break with every scene break – in which case you get what you deserve). If your chapter headers occupy the same page as the initial text of the chapter, then those first chapter chunks are, presumably, already being assigned to a distinct section format (such as “Chapter Number and Text”) and the small caps setting should be set inside that secton format instead (and hence the effect will not kick in during the remaining scenes of the chapter which are controlled by a different section format).

Thanks, GR for the tip.

Okay, so I just checked my project settings, and find all the parts I created (Section, Chapter, Scene, Front Matter) are gone in the Section Types tab, and the Default Types by Structure tab is blank. However, my novel continues to compile correctly, and Section-Based settings continue to apply the correct section names I created. So that’s a mystery. The names I created in the project setting panel were there yesterday and during my long night getting to know S3.

When I 'm in the Compile section and I go into the format I created for my novel, a format that has the helpful, intuitive title “Electric Bugaloo,” I see all the types I created there. I now added New Pages. So, as you suggest, if I wanted just the new page that begins a chapters to have a certain look I could tweak it here. Great.

New Pages, however, does not turn up in the “Assign Section Layers” box in the main Compile panel, so I hope this will not be a problem. I can understand that New Pages is an abstraction and not a category of the file structure, which Compile is actually taking its cues from.

I know when I first opened my S3 and saw the suggested section names, I deleted ones I didn’t think I needed. I didn’t realize they were terms , like “New Pages”, that might be compile code triggers. I just now opened a new project for Novel with Parts, which comes, as you know, with a skeleton structure in the Binder column. There is a series of Section Trypes by default in the Project Settings panel. I don’t see New Pages there, but I’m wondering now if I should never have deleted things like “Chapter Heading” and “Heading”. In my Electric Bugaloo setup, I adopted the common practice of using folders just to represent chapter titles, and the files within it, to represent the copy with hashtag breaks for subsequent scene files.

So learning curve continues to arch.

Your Section Types just disappeared? That shouldn’t be possible, yikes. It shouldn’t even be possible to delete all section types - there should always be at least one. Were labels and status affected or anything else? These are all saved at the same time and nothing else touches them, likewise the Default by Structure settings. Are the Section Types appearing correctly in Compile, just not in Project Settings? It sounds like something very strange is going on here…

Indeed, all info in the Setting Panel disappeared. Two blank panels.

I quit the program and opened it again. My section types were back, but the compile was off. I realized I had to reassign types to the structure in the second tab of the Section Types.

This kept happening to me during my 14 hour marathon with the program, but I figured I was resetting the program with so many recompiles.

But this morning, just working as usual, I found the types had disappeared, and that the program had to be restarted to get them back, as I stated above.

I haven’t set labels and I am not sure what you mean by status.

For safe keeping, I’ve taken snapshots of the way the panel should be, and is currently

“Electric Bugaloo.” That’s a 14-hour marathon title. Love it.


P.S. I don’t have anything useful to contribute on the project settings mystery. I leave it to the Source to figure that one out! Project Settings being project-specific, (I trust you had the same Scriv project open when you checked and found disconcerting emptiness.)

Here we go again. I just did a compile, wanted to tweak something in my Electric Bugaloo format, wanted to add New Pages as a Section Type, but when I went into Project Settings, all my settings were gone. The panels were blank:

There’s some serious bug occurring there, needless to say. If you quit and restart Scrivener, do the Section Types reappear? My guess is that some exception is getting thrown somewhere (i.e. a bug triggered) that is causing things to behaviour erratically. But if you hit “OK” instead of “Cancel” in the panel when this occurs, I suppose it is possible that the Section Types would be overwritten with the blanks… Can you find a way of reproducing this? That is, can you find a set of steps that causes Section Types to disappear like this? It shouldn’t be possible to have no SectionTypes even on purpose, and it’s definitely not possible (when Scrivener is working!) to have an entirely blank “Default by Structure” area. So that’s definitely a nasty bug.

Could you please go to Scrivener > Preferences > General > Warnings and tick “Show internal error alerts”? That will cause any exceptions to trigger a warning in a panel. (It’s usually best to leave that turned off, because macOS can trigger some harmless exceptions that will seem alarming if it’s on, but it might help us find out what is going on with your Section Types.)

Incidentally, I’ve put together an in-depth transition guide in Scrivener 2 format here: … date-guide

The idea is that you open the Scrivener 2 project in Scrivener 3 and walk through the steps to learn about the changes and how to migrate.

Thanks and all the best,

Thank you, Keith.

Yes, the sections reappear if I restart Scrivener. However, the structure resets to a default that’s incorrect. So the format hierarchy has to be recreated and reset. In the end, now that I know how to fix it, it’s no longer a problem that can stop my workflow. I just need to restart the program and reset the structure.

It seemed to happen at random, no rhyme or reason that I can tell. I use the past tense because, for the last couple of days, Project Settings have remained in place. For the first day or two, I was checking immediately after I did anything with the novel, even just saving my work.

I suspected this bug was thrown when I explored a different format setting, but I have not seen it occur again.

I wonder if the trouble arose when I deleted some of the default types (like “Chapter Heading” and “Heading”). In a few cases, I just changed the name of a default section type. My novel structure is quite straightforward: Folders carry the titles of chapters and book divisions, and text files carry the body copy for the various scenes.

I will do as you ask. I have turned on internal error alerts. I will contact you here, in this thread, if the blanking of the sections recurs.

I look forward to reading your transition guide. I happen to love reading manuals and am working my way through the standard S3 manual now.

Thank you, Keith