When compiling outlined items, are folders required?

My objective is create an outline, with each card having a description, as part of a book proposal.

I’m just starting a new project for this, erm, project. The previous Scrivener file just got unwieldy and it felt easier to start over with a blank project than try to reorganize it for the 4th time.

What I do is use the outliner to jot down all my beats/ideas, and then organize them in the corkboard. What I’ve done until now is to stack cards in the corkboard to create a section or chapter. But I see when I try to compile that everything comes out in one file with no sections.

So I might have answered my own question: if I want to compile a document separated into chapters and sections (and perhaps sub-sections), do I have to use folders?

In short, no you do not have to use folders to achieve any kind of structural headings in your project (I very rarely use folders).

That said, a number of the built-in project templates will assume that you will be following the provided example structure given when creating the project (for example, using a folder to break to a new chapter, organising the content of that chapter’s text into multiple “scenes” or “sections” as the case may be). That’s just one way of using the program though, and the help file for these templates will often have a section describing how you could change that. For example those who write very short single-section chapters wouldn’t be benefited by using folders and sub-files, so there are instructions for using chapter files, typically in a flat sequence in the Draft folder.

While that’s not what you’re looking to do specifically, it might be enlightening to read through that section to see how it describes flipping a few settings to make it so the structure you are creating is correctly described as having section types. You can make it so file groups (what you get when you stack cards within cards) at level 1 are “Chapter” and at level 2 “Section” and so forth—whatever you need. Section Types are also described in the interactive tutorial, under the heading “Section Types”, and are fully documented in §7.6, Section Types, of the user manual PDF.

So that’s one approach. The other is to freely outline as you have been, using files because that’s easiest, and then once you feel you have a structure set in stone (or close enough), then convert the keystones to folders. This is very easily done with the Documents menu, or right-clicking on selected items in the binder/corkboard/outliner. That’s a very valid way of working that a lot of people like doing, and why we make it so easy to convert between types.

That’s the long answer, and it all boils down to: it doesn’t matter to Scrivener. The whole program is designed from the ground up to be flexible enough to wrap whatever working practices you prefer into something functional. If that means a flat list of files for chapters, fine, if a chapter means 150 items nested to seven levels of depth, fine. If half of that depth doesn’t even print as structure in the output—as you’ve seen, that works fine too (though in your case it was undesired). Overall I like to say you don’t need to worry too much about it during the phase of the project you’re in right now, because chances are by the time you are ready to start thinking in terms of structure and output, you’ll be able to find a way to make Scrivener work to your project no matter how it ended up.

Thanks - I will read through the suggested sections and figure out how to use Section Types.