Styling of version 3 unusable

Being since years used to keep apart content/structure and layout (WordPerfect had for each document a separate second window to change formatting; in webwork I am used to keeping HTML and CSS sparate; even Libreoffice Writer is transparent in its formatting) the new “Styling” in version 3 of Scrivener is nothing of this kind.
On the contrary: one never knows where to find the correct formatting, the respective option is spilled all over the program.
As much as I like in Scrivener 3 the simplified structuring of my writing, I have no clue how to layout it in order to get it out as I wish, even after having read the whole manual (over 700 pages).
Only workaround for me: export all my folders and files (newest project: 17 folders, 70 files) as separate files to ODT, make a global document in LibreOffice and then start to layout it at my wishes.
Very sad!

In going through the manual, a simple search on “wysiwyg” would have brought you to section 17 on page 363 to find “You might say it was only a matter of time before you found Scrivener and
styles sittin’ in a tree together. Scrivener has always been about separating the
way we write from how text is formatted when we print. Much of the design
is premised on the notion that a creative writing space shouldn’t be difficult to
modify or forced to look a certain way because of how we need things to look for
our editors, publication guidelines and so on. Stylesheets are a way of making
that nebulous goal a little more detailed and practical.”

Scrivener is NOT wysiwyg. Styles are something that you apply to a block of text to change it from the “No Style” default. You compile to see anything different than the text you typed in inside the editor panel. This allows you to change the output format from print to epub to whatever else you want just by setting up the output compile format and never have to change your text in the editor.


I am not surprised about your reply, as if you don’t want to understand what I mean.
I was not talking about WYSIWYG, right?
I am talking about the non-transparent handling of styles in Scrivener 3, about the dispersed options of changing styles, in the editor and while compiling.
The compilation in Version 1 was much clearer - a big loss in Version 3.
What is not to understand about my criticism?

I have to say @grac , I likewise misunderstood your original post.

It is surely an effective expression of frustration. However, if your intent was 1) to communicate feedback to L&L so they can improve their product, and/or 2) to solicit advice from the user community for how to solve the challenges you’re facing, then your post was ineffective, due to its lack of specificity. (E.g., you never even mention compiling.)

My suggestion is that you provide the specific tasks you’re trying to accomplish, what settings you used, expected results, actual results, etc., so that the many knowledgeable people that hang out here can try to help you.



Styles did not exist in Scrivener 1, so of course the handling of styles in Scrivener 3 is different. We do have an upgrade guide, here:

Yes, it is possible to change Styles in both the Editor and the Compile command. The whole point of the Compile command is to allow reformatting without alterations to the Editor text.

Perhaps the observation that Scrivener is not a WYSIWYG editor was motivated by your statement that:

As @JimRac said, if your goal is to get concrete guidance, rather than just venting, additional information about what you are trying to do and what is happening would be helpful. Or, you’re welcome to contact the L&L team directly if you’d rather:

Well, my post has two (2) tags: “feedback” and “compile”.
And “export” goes also through compiling, right?!

This is not accurate: by upgrading my last project from Scrivener 1 to 3 there was a lot of styling (=formatting) in my text. And when you set a text passage to “no style”, part of the former formatting stays in the text. You just have no clue, what pre-formatting remains.
In the Manual it says on page 372:

That’s exactly what I meant: there was pre-formatting (default) in version 1 which stays in version 3. If that is not a non-transparent behavior, I don’t know what else it could be.

As I have written, I found another export solution and just don’t use the “new” compiling.
And again: it’s very sad that you have chosen a maybe “intuitive” solution. I prefer “logic” and “transparent”.

“Style” and “formatting” are not synonyms. Formatting existed in Scrivener 1, but “Styles” did not. Perhaps this confusion is the root of your problem?

No, I am not confused. Every child knows that styling and formatting are maybe not identical, but a very important factor of one’s message, whatever it is (design, look, etc.).
What confuses me is the inaccurate and not transparent mixture between styling and formatting in Scrivener 3. The Manual also talks about CSS, which is even more confusing.
Because Scrivener’s “styling” is nothing but a bad invention for dummies and has nothing to do with CSS the whole world knows, since CSS is very transparent.

Yep. I’m a dummy. I take advantage of using the Scrivener Styles as appropriate. And as far as I recall, I’ve never touched CSS related to Scrivener.

As you have found what you call a “only workaround” and are not seeking advice from others, probably you are best to keep using that “solution”. But it’s an odd solution. Oh well.

If you want to keep venting, perhaps do it direct with Literature & Latte Support, as they have kindly offered above.

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Sorry, I didn’t notice your compile tag.

No, export and compile are separate features in Scrivener.

See menu options File > Export vs. File > Compile.



Thanks for this link. Two remarks from my side:

  1. it shows that I am not alone with my total frustration with the new compiling. The fact, that L&L seems to have been obliged to give much more explanation than thought, shows me that my thinking is not so far away from others.

  2. But why is this Manual so hidden? I wouldn’t have found it in the L&L website. Since a long time I am subscribed to the newsletter, but never got any message. And I think that every time one upgrades an old project to Version 3 there should be a window with this link, and from there the other link to the “Interactive Tutorial”.

I didn’t know that I belong to the die-hard Scrivener 1 users. I am just a normal guy with a lot of experience in formatting every kind of text.
So this link will hopefully be helpful - the last chance to understand this cranky logic.

My point is that “Style” in the Scrivener context has a very specific meaning: it is a label applied to a block of text. That label can be associated with specific formatting, but doesn’t have to be.

The Compile command sees text with an associated label (a Style), and handles it differently from text without that label. (Exactly how Styles are handled depends on the settings in the Style tab of your Compile format, how unstyled text is handled depends on the Formatting pane of the applicable Section Layout.)

CSS is completely irrelevant unless you are Compiling to a format that supports it. If you are, then it’s possible to tie Styles (again, a label applied to a block of text) to the CSS stylesheet.

The update guide is linked from the Scrivener 3 announcement page. I agree that it might be helpful to make it visible from within Scrivener itself as well.

The existence of the guide reflects our knowledge that the Compile command was completely overhauled for Scrivener 3. You can believe – as we do – that the revised command offers much more flexibility in a more intuitive way and still recognize that people with prior experience might need additional guidance.

I’d be glad to get you through all this in a Zoom session or two. Free of charge.

It’s not as complicated as you think.

One on one assistance


Thanks a lot for your offer for a quick fix, very kind.
But I think I have to understand the whole matter in order to be able to reproduce it with other projects, not just the one I have made these experiences.

Since I had deactivated the Start Screen in Scrivener I have not seen the “Update Guide” - my problem … :blush:

Don’t forget there is the Scrivener Tutorial available for you.

Yes, you need to understand it, and that’s what I’d help you to do.

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After having gone also through the “Upgrade Guide” and the “Interactive Tutorial” I must say that the only reliable source of help was to find in the “User Manual for Scrivener - Version 3”.
And after having totally restructured and simplified my manuscript (to have only three Section Types: Part, Chapter with leading page-break and Subchapter without leading page-break) I was able to compile my manuscript, including Front and Back Matter.
But - as I found out during my endless trial-and-error processes - the only Format working for me was “Default”. After having made a copy, I was even able to change some pre-formatting.
The result (in ODF) looks now quite nice, at least more or less as I wanted it to be.
But a lot of formatting needs to be made in ODT itself. For example: the TOC looks irregular, depending on pre-formatting not yet clear to me. And the TOC doesn’t work in the PDF, as you write in the manual. Why? Because the titles are not conformably formatted.
There is also the trouble with header and footer: one only has a very limited number of variables allowed for compiling.
When it comes to unordered lists, the irritation is even greater: while upgrading the manuscript from version 1 to version 3 the indentation and former use of bullets are only imitated, but not really transformed.
My list of troubles goes way beyond these points.
But the real problem with Styling and Formatting remains: it’s non-transparent, and there is no way to verify what exactly is behind every “No Style” text element. Which means that every paragraph with “No Style” has to be clicked on to find out, if my own default pre-formatting (e.g. “Spacing After Paragraph”) is correctly adopted.
All in all: it seems to me as if Scrivener 3 with its “Styling” has reinvented the wheel. And therefore made it incomprehensible.