Shuffling Chapters

I find that I want to change the order of my chapters and, at times, insert new ones. I don’t give my chapters names, just Chapter X. So my question is, will Scrivener renumber the chapter content as well as the files?

I’m probably oversimplifying, and there may well be some option or exception that I’m not aware of, but I think the short answer goes as follows… (and, sorry, it’s going to be verbose)…

1 – Items in the bindery can be moved relative to one another (both sequence wise and level wise within the hierarchy of items) and items can be added, removed, renamed, split, combined, subordinated, promoted, etc.
Doing so does not change the text contained in item names or contents. If you typed “Chapter 5” in an item name and/or in an item’s content, that text will not change as a result of moving the item.
I think it is fair to say that Scrivener’s design assumes that folks do a lot of such rearranging of items and it focuses on supporting that rather than autonumbering early in the process.

2 – If you want autonumbering of bindery items or levels, that is accomplished by some combination of special numbering variables you insert in the text and/or compile options, which get processed at compile time. Scrivener is sort of semi-WYSIWYG… you see an approximation while editing, with ultimate formatting, numbering, etc. happening at compile time.
The idea is to focus on outlining, drafting, structuring… then focus on finely tuned formatting later at compile time.
I think chapter/etc. naming can be accomplished at least three ways… use of item names, use of text within items and according to hierarchy level…

So, you may want give your chapter items meaningful names, at least until you have your structure finalized. Or a mix of meaningful name and chapter number, knowing that you’ll probably want to edit/change the chapter number if you move the chapter item.

A couple of exceptions to this…

  • (Mac only, currently) Some item numbering (card numbering?) is apparently supported within Corkboard view, but my sense is it is pretty rudimentary and available only within Corkboard view.
  • WYSIWYG autobulleting/autonumbering is available for text lists within items while editing. This seems intended for short local text lists within individual items, not for larger scale use for/across multiple items, and is somewhat rudimentary.

To get a better sense of all this, search the forums (search fields in upper right hand corner) or manual (Help > Scrivener Manual in Scrivener, also available for download as a PDF from Scrivener web site’s support page), on “numbering”. In the manual, see Appendix D, Table D.2: Auto-Number Placeholder Tags, for one place where is discussed.

If in doubt, is often best to simply experiment. Be sure you have good backups before doing so… or just create small throwaway projects containing minimal items and text and experiment within them.

The other thing to keep in mind is that there are the logical meaningful names used for items as seen in the project’s bindery… versus the relatively meaningless autogenerated file names that Scrivener uses underneath, behind the scenes, at the operating system file system level. A Scrivener project is a folder (name ending in .scriv) that contains multiple folders and lots of files, which consitutes a database. Deal with it from within Scrivener and don’t fiddle with the underlying files. If you want to copy, move or backup a project, best to do it from within Scrivener. If you do it outside of Scrivener, at the file system level, do it at/via the project folder (name ends in .scriv).

Scrivener is powerful, but a bit different. As it should be, otherwise why not just use Word or whatever? It has been in development and use for many years now. So most things have been considered, discussed, tested and shaken out, subject to KB, the creator of Scrivener. So, if something seems different, missing or not right… poke around a bit, ask, etc. and you’ll likely find it or a discussion as to why it is not there or not there yet or is in a form other than what you expected. They welcome and consider bug reports and suggestions… but don’t guarantee that they’ll implement something just because it has been suggested. Also, the Windows version, currently at v1.7.2 I think, is still playing catchup with the Mac version, currently at v2.something… so there are some v2 features not yet incorporated.

Hope that helps.

P.S. On Macs, a project apparently presents as a “package”, which somewhat disguises/hides the folder and its contents.


Grains of salt notwithstanding, your reply to this question was clear and informative and generously thoughtful. I’m sure it will be helpful for legions of future Scrivener users.

Many thanks!

(and it wasn’t even my question)