Should Chapters Formatted as Files Be Moved to Folders?

Hello! I’m new here. I dove right in with Scrivener a few years ago for a novel project and am realizing now that an issue has come up because I did not organize my manuscript in the standard way. I began with Scrivener 2 for Mac and switched to Scrivener 3 late last year.

All had been going well for the first couple drafts of my novel, including compiling and printing. What has come up now is that I want to divide up some of my chapters. I originally made each chapter a file rather than a folder. Those files now have quite a history of previous drafts and notes. When I looked into how to handle dividing them up, I found this helpful article: (I am putting that here for reference but will describe my issue in the post.)

The article discussed how you can change your chapter titles in your organization to names like 1, 2a, 2b, 3, 4a, 4b, but then set Scrivener to number them properly when compiling (i.e: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6). That seemed like the perfect solution to retain my history and notes, but create a clean compilation. However, when I started looking into how to do that in the Scrivener Tutorial, I discovered that I should have created chapters as folders rather than files. I seem to be able to create something usable enough that it compiles into a MS Word document and can be made to look as I wish with a reasonable amount of finding and replacing.

I wonder if everything will be easier if I move those chapter files into folders. (I have 20 chapters now and after I make splits will have 23-25). Or if having chapters as files can work fine for compilation once I figure it out, and I’m best not going through that bother.

Thanks for any help!

Folders in Scrivener aren’t really folders. Not in the way they are in a file system. In Scrivener a folder is simply a document like any other document you have in the binder, but with a different icon in the binder. But sometimes compiling is easier if you convert some “files” to “folders”. There is a command, Convert -> to folder, which changes the icon.

Note that the article you linked discusses Scrivener 2. Scrivener 3 completely overhauls the Compile command, among other things making it a lot more flexible in how it handles your Binder hierarchy.

If you haven’t seen it already, I’d recommend taking a look at our upgrade guide for Scrivener 2 users, here: … date-guide

To answer your question, yes, you can do everything with files that you can with folders. However, some of Scrivener’s built-in Compile Formats assume that you’re using folders, so you might get odd results if you try to use them as-is.


Thanks very much, both of you. That’s great news that converting from files to folders is so simple, Lunk. And Katherine, yes, I had noticed that some of the formats have aspects that say “folder only,” which concerned me . . . and I thought that the different look might be because his article was based on Scrivener 2, but wasn’t confident I was reading that right. Thank you also for the link.