Unnamed Chapters

Hello Scrivenistas,

I’m on day two of my Scrivener experience and I’m having a problem. Please excuse me if this has been addressed already in other forum threads. I searched on this site and googled it and only came up with the following on an author’s page:

“One small nitpick about compile and chapters: If you don’t name your chapters (e.g., Chapter 1, Mary Goes to the Store), you’ll have text you need to delete – either the placeholder text you used for your folders or “unnamed document.” As I don’t name my chapters (hell, I have a hard enough time coming up with a title for the entire story much less for every chapter) this is a little irritating, but minor. I would love it if Scrivener would be smart enough to drop that paragraph if the folder is not named.”

Is this true? It seems like somewhere in the thousands of bells and whistles of this app there must be a simple way to compile with your chapters just numbered and not titled… right?

Please tell me that’s right…

Thanks in advance for your help!


Yeah, we have a bell and a whistle for that, the blog you read is mistaken. There are two components to how a chapter name can be exported during compile (not counting, of course, a silent third where nothing is exported). There can be a prefix and suffix, which is how you can get a generic bit of text, usually with a number, like “Chapter 12”, and then there is the name of the folder itself. You do not need one for the other to work, you can just print a generic sequence of chapters as numbers if that is what you want, and use folder names for your own purposes while using the software.

The trick is to not use the “Title” checkboxes is the Formatting compile pane, but to use a Prefix in the Section Layout button, below that grid of checks. Now I’m not sure how far you’ve gone into learning the software, some of that may be a foreign language to you, but rest assured it is entirely possible to use generic chapter naming if you so desire. If you haven’t figured it out by the time you need it, just ask and we’ll help you out with the details if need be.

Hi AmberV,

Thanks very much for the quick reply. I am actually at that point. I’m importing text from LibreOffice of a completed work, one chapter at a time, into documents in the Manuscript file of the Novel template. So I’m ready to compile and print.

I found the Section Layout button but yes, at that point it is another language. I’ve actually changed my mind, I’d like my chapters not to be numbered or titled, but I’d like to know how to do it with or without numbers, if you can walk me through it or point me to a resource.

Thanks again!

My suggestion would be to check out our video page, and of course the built-in tutorial from the Help menu, if you haven’t already. We have a few video tutorials on how to work with the compiler. I’m not quite sure what benefit you’ll get from Scrivener at this point in your project, however, since it is mainly meant to be a writing tool; where you go from zero words to the completion of a first draft. Importing everything into it just to export again might be adding a whole lot of work without accomplishing much. I’m not sure what you are going for, however.

I’ve been through the tutorial and couldn’t find an answer. If you know which video covers this specific question, that would be great.

I bought Scrivener with the intention of using it to improve the presentation of my current work, and to use from the outset on future projects. Respectfully, if it takes this long to figure out how to do such a very, very basic thing I may have to rethink that.

Scrivener is a sophisticated tool and like any such thing it requires time and practice to use skilfully. You could use a chisel to tighten screws and you can put screws in with a hammer but that’s not what they are meant for. You can throw an adse around but if you’re not careful it will take your feet off instead of wood. (And the news reports today that Greg Norman: Chainsaw accident sees golfer nearly lose his left hand demonstrates that tools need to be used properly.)

Putting the effort into finding out what Scrivener can do will make your writing better–certainly better organised which is how I understand your use of “presentation”. If you’re up against a deadline then Scrivener can’t help you immediately but it will for future projects. It might just surprise you though and improve your current project if you put the effort in to using it.

My suggestion would be to load up the tutorial and do some experimentation with that content (so you have a safe place to blow things up while learning). Try a few of the “Format As” presets in the Compiler and observe how the formatting changes (compiling to “Print” is a good way to preview; just use the “Open as PDF” feature in the print panel to get a full-size view and hit Esc when you’re done). Try “Original”, “Standard Manuscript Format” and “Enumerated Outline” for a few distinctly different options—and with each one, examine the Formatting pane and how the Prefix and Suffix fields work in the Section Layout button. With the Standard Manuscript Format, click on different icon and outline level rows in the upper half of the window to see how folders are treated differently from files, or even how files at the top level handle themselves differently from files on indent level 2 or deeper.

These are all just practical examples, but you should be able to see what we did with them and either find a preset you like from the outset, or learn how to tweak it or make your own from scratch.