What generates section layouts?

Still trying to understand Compile in Scrivener 3. I went into Project > Project Settings and set up some section types. Now, when I go into File > Compile, my understanding is that I need to assign my section types to section layouts. When I do this, I am presented with six different section layouts to choose from. Some contain section breaks, some do not (see image).

I don’t understand where the section layouts are coming from? Did I somehow create these somewhere? What if I want a different section layout, one that is not among the six that are presented? What if I want an “As Is” layout that does not contain a section break (which I do)?

Section layouts are associated with the Compile format you’ve chosen in the screen before the one in your screenshot. Click Cancel in your screenshot to see it.

If you’re using one of the formats that ships with Scrivener, you can add new section layouts by right-clicking the “base” format and choosing the Duplicate and Edit option. See Section 24.2 in the Scrivener 3 manual for more information.


You’re right in the basic principle:

You allocate a Section Type to an item in the Binder, then you allocate each Section Type a Section Layout in Compilation.

When you go into Compilation and choose a ‘Compile For’ – Print or Word for example, then you see a load of preset formats down the left hand side. These have all been pre-defined by Literature and Latte — and they include pre-defined Section Layouts to meet common needs.

The idea of course is that if you want a Word document in Manuscript format, you’ll have some handy common Section Layouts to choose from without redefining anything.

You can of course define your own Formats and Section Layouts, but you can’t edit the existing ones (presumably to stop people getting them into an unusable mess…)

To roll your own, choose the format nearest to your needs, and right-click on it and choose Duplicate and Edit Format, then name your new version. Right click on it and choose Edit Format — you’ll be given a dialogue box which looks a lot like the old All Options tab in Scrivener Version 2 compilation.

Here you can amend the built-in Section Layouts and/or create your own, as well as doing a lot more.

So basically:

Allocate Section Types in the Binder > Choose a Compilation Format > Allocate the Section Types to Section Layouts. If you need to add / edit formats, Duplicate and Edit an existing one.


Thank you both. That helps greatly with the conceptual understanding. But I’m still struggling.

  1. I go to File > Compile
  2. I select a Project Format, right click on it, then select Edit Format.
  3. In Section Layouts, I click on the gear wheel to add a new “My As-Is” layout. So far, so good.

But now I need to specify “include text based on its appearance in the editor” in the layout. I don’t know how to do that. You can see my result in the attached image.

When I compile using the new My As-Is layout, it changes the format of the text (from what it’s defined as in the editor), which is not what I want. More help pls?

I see you’re using epub, which works slightly differently from the other layouts – I’m afraid I don’t use it so I’d be guessing at the moment, so I’ll leave that for some else to answer, rather than mislead you. Sorry.

One thing I would say, is why are you trying to change an As-Is format – it’s there to do exactly what it says. So why do you need another layout to do the same thing?

Brookter is right - the problem here is just that you have chosen to export to ePub. ePub and Kindle are different from other formats in that they do not embed fonts and so the font used will be determined by the e-reader. You’ve also chosen ePub 3, which is brand new to Scrivener 3 and requires you to set up styles inside of Compile (the base text formatting, though, can be set up in the “CSS” area). I would check out the built-in E-book Compile Format first, because that provides a lot to get you started.

All the best,

Thanks again for the comments. I want to change the As-Is format in order to remove the section break. That’s it, nothing else. But I don’t know how to do that. So I really don’t want to create a new section layout, I just want the As-Is layout without the section break. There must be a way do to that for ePub?

And yes, I am aware that e-readers do not embed fonts. But they do reflect different font sizes. I have paragraphs in my manuscript that contain multiple font sizes. So assigning a single section layout to these paragraphs (text files) forces all text to a single font size. Thats why I’m using the As-Is section layout, which works fine in all respects, except that it creates a section break (and a new title entry in TOC). So it comes back to the original question, how to create (or otherwise use) an As-Is section layout without a section break. Make sense?

As I mentioned to Keith in a different post, I initially tried the standard E-Book format before creating my own. It made a mess of my book, which contains 85,000 works, 50+ embedded images and 350+ footnotes. The TOC, fonts, font sizes, line spacing, footnote handling, etc, all went askew. FYI I did import my legacy preset from Scrivener 2, but that helped very little. So now I’m trying to fix my book by duplicating the E-Book format as a starting point, then making adjustments to it.

Thanks again for your assistance.

This sounds to me to be exactly the sort of situation where V3’s new features help out — if you’re planning from scratch rather than trying to convert from the old way, where it can be a bit disorientating.

So if I’ve got this right: you have some documents in the folder which contain paragraphs that you want to appear in a different font, and some of those paragraphs contain words which are all in a bigger font.

Version 3 allows you to assign Styles to individual paragraphs (paragraph styles) and to individual words etc (character styles), and these will go through to compilation, which will respect them.

In this dummy document (called Scene D in my Binder), I’ve allocated the styles BigParagraph and BigCharacter accordingly. (The boxes around the text are an option when you create the style. I’ve used them to make it clearer here).

The document (Scene D) has got the default Section Type ‘Scene’ (as do Scenes A, B and C).

Go to Compile and choose Compile for epub 3, then E-book as the format in Scrivener Formats. Click Assign Section Layouts and choose Section Text as the Layout for Section Type Scene.

Click OK and make sure that in the right hand panel, all the Scenes have Section Type Scene. Then click compile.

This is what I get in the iBook output:

As you can see, the paragraph and word/sentence sizes have been respected and we’ve only used the basic settings in Compile and not used As-Is at all. All four scenes are Section Type Scene, so they don’t appear in the ToC.

Ignoring the fact that you’d want to change the appearance of various elements (the actual fonts / para indents etc) does this cover what you want to do? If not, what is missing, please?

(Sorry for the length of this – I thought it better to put the steps down. If it does do what you want, great. If it doesn’t at least we’ll know where to go from here.)

EDIT: forgot to mention as I was rushing out to walk the dog… You can redefine how BigParagraph and BigCharacter styles look in compilation – this gives you a lot of flexibility if you need it.

I think the As-Is layout, unlike others, is not directly under your control. When you look in the Separators setting of a Compile Format, the As-Is layout does not appear in the picking list of the panel. I’m not sure why that is, but I think that means you can’t fiddle with As-Is.

However, it is the simplest possible thing to create an As-Is-ish section layout of your own! Basically you just have to create it and don’t do anything to its settings. Even its separator settings will default to what you probably want. Then on compile you just want to assign those pesky section types to As-Is-ish instead of As-Is. Your font high jinks will all be preserved as expected (without messing with Styles or anything).

That is correct, it is quite simply the lack of all formatting settings (just like As-Is was as a checkbox in v2). There is nothing to modify about that nor should there be.

That isn’t to say however that if a type of binder item is set up to use this “as-is” layout, that if it meets other criteria for having a separator, that it would not. For example, if it is a folder, then with default settings the Separators pane dictates that all folders should come with a page or section break. That is also precisely how v2 worked, though with much less control and capability of override.

There are now two ways to “fix” that:

  1. Change the Separators defaults so that folders don’t do anything special and that is entirely left up to layout assignments. You will naturally want to make sure all folders in your project are using a Layout that generates a break.
  2. As gr notes: create your own as-is that doesn’t do anything itself, but has an entry in the Separators pane where it can override the defaults and do nothing special.

I myself prefer route #1. In all of my Formats that I’ve created, I don’t treat folders as fundamentally different than files or file groups. I leave semantics 100% up to Types. It does mean I have to be a little more strict with types—but I like that kind of strictness.

Thank you brookter for the detailed post. If I understand you correctly, in order to compile to ePub 3 I need to:

In Editor

  • Define and apply a Style to all my text (say, Arial 12 black regular)
  • Then in all places in my text where I use italics, define and apply a new Style to those words and sentences (say, Arial 12 black italic)
  • Do the same though-out my text, wherever I want something other than Arial 12 black regular

So in the end, every single word in my manuscript will have a character and a paragraph Style attached to it. Is this correct?

Then, when I compile using the Section Text layout (as in your example), the Styles that I assigned in Editor will carry thru to the ePub 3 output. Am I understanding correctly? If yes, I can do that. But somehow it seems simpler if I could just pass my Editor fonts “as is” straight thru to the ePub 3 output without having to assign and maintain all the Styles in Editor. But if that’s the way ePut 3 works, so be it.

Not quite:

Every single word in your manuscript should be in ‘No Styleunless you’ve added a specific character/paragraph style.

In other words, ‘No Style’ is the default paragraph you get if you make no style alterations at all.

You define the default (‘No Style’) in Preferences > Editing > Formatting using the dummy text there and from then on every new document in every project will have that formatting by default (ie ‘No Style’) — unless you override it for a particular project in Project > Project Settings > Formatting.

This is exactly the same as Version 2 – it’s just that in the V3 styles era, the style drop down box shows ‘No Style’ for the default text.

So if you want Arial 12 black as your default text, then you’ll do that in Preferences first – you don’t have to explicitly assign it to all your text. You only assign character / paragraphs when you want a different effect (eg block quote etc).

That’s the general process in the Editor.

When you get to Compilation all this will normally pass through — but you can if you want take any style and redefine it during compilation (so you can make blockquote look different for various compilation formats without changing the text in the editor at all).

So in effect, the default process should give you what the majority of people want by default, but with a lot of flexibility available if you need it (which most people don’t).

Epubs are slightly different because the e-reader does a lot of the formatting work (overriding the fonts etc). But as you can see from my screenshots – the ‘standard paragraphs’ (which are actually ‘No Style’ in the editor) have come through in the default ebook paragraph format. I didn’t have to do anything to define that default appearance – it’s part of the in-built CSS (style sheet).


With respect, I truly think approaching the OP’s challenge via styles is going at it the hard way. AmberV surely has the right idea here – having pointed to a single tweak of the compile settings to solve it. There is also my own suggestion, which is a bit more involved since it requires two adjustments in the compile settings. The most involved and error-prone approach is preserving all instances of diff font sizes and styling by defining and applying specialized Styles to them.

Again, with all due respect. I felt duty-bound to point this out.


Thank you all! I really appreciate your help. You are all great!

Also allow me to apologise. I now realise that I am mixing two distinct topics, which probably makes my original question unclear or misleading. One topic is controlling section breaks. The other topic is allowing text formatting in Editor to flow thru unchanged to the ePub 3 compile output. I think I confused the two topics because the standard “As-Is” Section Type also for some reason includes a non-changeable section break.

The control of Separators is clear to me. Thanks again for your help with that. And to avoid further confusion, I will close this thread, then create a new thread explicitly on the text formatting topic, where I still have an open question.

No offence taken, GR.

I was actually correcting the impression that you have to use styles for everything and recommending a move back to a more ‘trust the defaults’ first approach, but it’s good that any advice we give is tested – it gets confusing when different people are responding to different parts of the thread.