Very confused about formatting in Scrivener

Hi - I realize that formatting is different in Scrivener - however I was trying to figure out how to increase space between paragraphs. Is this possible? or only in compiling. I would LOVE to have a more detailed explanation of formatting options in your software.


The formatting and spacing of paragraphs in Scriv is not unique to the program, but follows basic typographic conventions. Thus, if you get to know how paragraphs are laid out in print, you will know how to do it in Scriv. There are many sources on the web for this; maybe you could start with wikipedia on ‘typrography’ and see where that leads you.

To get back to Scriv, though there are many on the forum who know this stuff better than I do, here is my expanation.

Start with a document, and click anywhere inside any paragraph. Now in the toolbar above the editing window, (make sure you have that showing; it shows by default) there are various buttons for formatting the text. Left aligned, centered, right aligned, etc; regular bold italic, etc. The last one to the right on my toolbar is one that turns bullets on or off, and just to the left of this is the paragraph spacing button. Click on the paragraph spacing button and slide the cursor all the way down to Other and the palette will appear for you.

This is what the palette lets you do:

  • Line Height Multiple governs the spacing between lines. 1 is single-space, 1.5 gives you a space between lines - lines within a paragraph, mind - of one-and-one-half times the height of the letter; 2 gives double-space, and so forth. You can set this for a lot and with ALL of these options you will do yourself no harm at all in just entering values and seeing how things turn out looking in the paragraph where the cursor is, so as to see what you like

  • Line Height comes below the LH Multiple, and this has to do with leading. Leading is a typographical term. It refers to white space above and below the letters, which is different, to typographers, than actual spacing between lines. The line height gives you a bit of breathing space and can be packed quite small (some programs let you enter a negative number here so that lines print right on top of one another) or quite large. If for example, you have 12-point type and set the Line Height to 24 points, you will end up with text that looks pretty close to what you would get if you set the Line Height Multiple to 2 times or double space. Line Height can be set to one of 3 variables here: Exactly, means that you want x points of height from the bottom of this line to the top of the line - the vertical space within which each letter will be inked onto your screen. At Least, means you set the least amount of that space, and At Most, means you set the max amount of that space. Again, if you are curious, play with this in confidence that your printed output will not reflect your play here, unless you mark the document or paragraph to print as-is and so override the Compile settings.

  • Inter-line Spacing, refers to another way to look at all this, the space between the lines. Start from the base of the current line, go upward the amount of Line Height, and there you have the top of that line, which is, by default, the base of the line above it. But you can set this to have some extra space if you want.

  • Paragraph Spacing: this lets you add extra space between the bottom of the last line of one paragraph, and the top of the first line in the following paragraph. In the old typewriter days, you might have pulled the carriage return an extra time or two after ending a paragraph in order to increase this.

As I say, all these are typographers’ terms and the nomenclature comes from a time when type consisted of led bits, laid out in a row on a bar, for printing. So to wrap your head around them, your best bet is to study up on typography.

  • asotir

Oh one other thing: a lot of writers here use Scrivener to output to a Kindle edition, and Kindle, like epub and other HTML-based formats, will not allow a lot of these settings to work.

And of course, unless you are setting a document or text area to bypass what you set your Compile to look like, these settings will only govern how the text appears to you on your computer screen while you are writing and editing your work.

  • asotir

thanks for your considerate reply. I understand typographic terms but don’t usually use them. I would like to use Scrivener for textbook publishing - and export to kindle or epub format. I would like advice on how to proceed with the different types of sections possible: i.e. language exercises, inserting interactive media etc. I guess I am more used to formatting in Pages or Word - have have to get beyond controlling formatting for a printed world. Your ideas on this?

I am looking for workflow examples using scrivener perhaps.


Textbook formatting tends to be pretty complex, if scientific, and less so if the subjects are more humanities. In general, I would say to run lots of small tests, outside your main work, making notes as you go as to what methods work best. Make a section with some sort of formatting you like, that works for how you want your textbook to look, compile that document to epub and mobi, read on the readers you have in mind (the more readers you can test, the better, as kindle books will look different on different readers, as will epub).

The free kindle previewer from Amazon is a nice quick shortcut for that side of things, as you can see how it thinks the book would look in eink kindle, kindle fire, and iphone and ipad implementations.

Epub is much more troublesome IMO as different companies support different styles, and subdivisions of the `standard’ – alas, the publishers when they got together to cobble an epub format, simply never finished their work, and so epub remains only an ideal. Google “Pigs, Gourds” and (something I don’t remember), which is the title of a blog by Liz Castro who has documented lots of tips on formatting epub books to different viewers and the frustrations thereof (with particular focus on the idiosyncracies of iBooks’ epub implementation).

If you have a firm notion of where your texts will appear in epub, you can at least test those devices.

You might nose around these forums for anybody else doing textbooks with Scrivener and see what tips they might have written.

  • asotir