Synced copies of front matter documents

I saw this ( ) in the Tips Forum after doing a fair amount of google and forum searching while trying to ascertain the best way to keep multiple copies of documents for Front Matter in sync with each other (so, I am not the only one struggling?).

Just as an example, I’m writing a fantasy novel. I intend to publish it into several formats, some electronic and some physical. Since the front matter for each cannot be absolutely identical (for example, a Table of Contents file for the paperback version needs to contain page numbers, while the ebook version can’t), but some of the files will need to be identical (title page, dedication, about the author, other books by this author, copyright pages, etc.), this necessitates having multiple Front Matter folders.

Over time, some these documents are likely going to get out of sync, even though they really need to be identical.

To me, what would be ideal would be a placeholder tag, perhaps $contents_of:document which would at compile time automatically insert the contents of the reference document. This way there could be essentially a primary Front Matter folder with the documents that will be identical (probably whichever one would be the most complete, like the paperback version), and each of the other ones get a document with <$contents_of:document> as their only text.

Now, it’s possible that the words I used to search with are not ones that other people used, and I missed an easy way to accomplish this—wouldn’t be the first time—so if that’s the case holler!

There will be a good approach for handling this sort of problem in the next big version!

In the meanwhile, a system for remote variable printing, similar to what you describe, already exists for meta-data. If the bits of text you need do not require formatting, you could use custom meta-data to achieve this. The trick is to type in the placeholder tag, such as <$custom:name_of_field>, select the entire tag and then create a Scrivener link to the document with the data in that field that you wish to print. Note I say formatting, but that means formatting inside the text, such as some of the phrase being italic. The whole text itself will be formatted as you format the placeholder, so you can still format the text as a whole in say, italics, or right-aligned.

It works better for shorter things, and if you already use custom meta-data, having these sorts of “one-off” fields you only use for a few files might be cumbersome (you can at least stash them at the bottom of the list), but it’s a technique that can save you a lot of time if you have bits of text throughout a work that all need to be identical and centrally managed.

That’s great news, thanks!

I did consider the meta-tag approach, as well as Replacements in the Compile window, and for small text that is fine though not ideal.

Just take as an example, an “other books by this author” page. There, parts of the text will likely need to be formatted but not others (book titles in italics, URLs underlined, etc., but most other text plain). Neither of these other work arounds is a good solution for that. So it will be nice to see a system-wide approach that admits of formatting etc.

I came back to note that there is a good approach in version 3 for handling this, the use of the $include placeholder.

Updating in case anyone comes back to see if this was resolved (it was). :smiley: