Why don't styles update properly?

Here’s the scenario: I have a style defined in a document. Let’s call it “Heading”. I’ve applied it in several places in the document. Then I decide I want to change something about this style, i.e. make the font larger. So I choose one instance of the style, increase the font size, and go to Format > Formatting > Redefine Style from Selection.

What I would expect to happen after I do that is that all of the instances of that style in the document would automatically update (i.e. the larger font would be applied, in this example). However, that doesn’t happen. I have to go through and select each instance and then re-apply the style to get it to update. That is obviously extremely laborious in a long document.

I’m hoping I’m just missing a step here. I must be… right?

The name of the menu command is actually “Redefine Preset from Selection”. Presets are not stylesheets and cannot be used in that manner. They are formatting presets, or you could think of them as macros. They apply some formatting to the selected text and then that’s it. Full stylesheets are a more complicated feature that would take a lot of development time to accomplish. We do have tentative plans for that in the future though.

Generally speaking though, the way one generates headers in Scrivener isn’t in the editor itself, but rather with the compiler, using the names of the sections in the Binder. So for instance if you have a chapter, you could make that a folder, and then put the sections within it as individual text documents, each named for the section header that would print in the book. Thus, you get an easy to navigate outline of your work, and the flexibility of stylesheets in the export phase, as you can set up what a text document header looks like in one single spot, as opposed to a chapter break, and so on. That is all done in the Formatting pane. Using the above example, you could click the Title checkmark on for the Folder Level 1+ row in the top table. When you do that you’ll see a sample title appear in the editor below. Just click into there and set up the formatting as you wish. Now when you compile, each folder item will print its name in the final document using the style you’ve set up. You can also do numbering and other useful things in this pane as well, but you can learn that later if you wish.

This is of course all quite flexible. Folders at level 1 might be Parts, and at level 2 Chapters. File groups (the icon in the middle of the table that looks like a stack of paper) could be sections, and files sub-sections beneath that. How complex this setup is depends on the complexity of the book’s organisation. If you need simple, you can have simple. A flat list of text files, one per chapter, is easily done by making ordinary text files print their names, maybe adding "Chapter <$n>: " into the prefix field in the “Section Layout” button, and that’s it. Meanwhile page breaks and other separators can be automatically generated in the Separators compile option pane.

Of course, you can type all of the headers into the text editor itself, but like I say, the software isn’t really optimised for that way of working unless you already have the formatting locked in and never change your mind about it.

Thanks for the clarification. Clearly I need to spend some more time with the manual.

I understand how the process you described works for chapter titles. But what about section headings and sub-headings within a chapter? I’m writing non-fiction and I tend to use a lot of those. I also have presets for blockquotes.

I’m guessing, from what you said, that I’ll have to update those manually as I described if I ever change them?

It is the same principle for sub-sections. That is what I meant by the side-effect of this technique being a more articulate and useful outline for yourself—in addition to making the formatting job easier by just pushing all of those decisions to the compiler and letting it handle formatting in one spot. Here is an example of a book that has chapters, sections and sub-sections:

Whatever I type into the names here will be printed in the final output if I set it up to do so. For now, you can just work that way, confident that it is possible to make all of this into nicely formatting headers later on. If you want to learn how this is done, you should read §24.10 (pg. 359) in the user manual. To briefly demonstrate however, here is one way I could set up the Formatting pane to work with the above example:

This of course does not show all of the settings. Since in my binder, regular text documents are sub-sections, I have just added “Title” to them, and then typed "<$hn>. " into the prefix field. That counter will generate depth based numbering in the typical 1.2.3 format. I also did this for the file group row (the stack of paper icon), but I made the font for that one 18pt. The folder got a different treatment. It says “Chapter <$t>” in the prefix, which will print “Chapter One” and so on, then a carriage return and the name of the folder.

I get:

So that’s just a basic example, I only needed the three icon types for formatting. If you have sub-sub-sections, then you would need a slightly more complicated approach to formatting, but with level and type based formatting this is all possible to do. Hopefully that demonstrates how you get the benefit of stylesheets working this way in Scrivener.

But again, like I said at the top—this is the more advanced side of the software, as would be configuring stylesheets. For the moment you can proceed with the project knowing what is possible, even if you don’t yet know precisely how it is possible. That can be figured out later.

Yeah, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Consistency is more important than precision, with Scrivener. This is where you hammer out the draft. Polishing off the final look is something you can do later. The importance of consistency is that if all your block quotes look one way, even if it isn’t correct, is that you can just use Word to find a blockquote and select all similarly formatted items, then click the style in the toolbar and now all of the blockquotes are fixed.