Why is the Compile process so impossibly complicated (read = useless) now?

So I LOVED Scrivener 2.x, and I’ve come to hate Scrivener 3.x, simply because the whole layouting/formatting/compiling process has become impossibly complicated and convoluted to use.

None of what I’ve found in the forums actually helped me solve my problem, and the control I used to have over compiling in Scrivener 2.0 has disappeared in version 3.x.

For example: I want some of my chapters in novel format to have a sort of byline, and I’ve tried everything I could find to make it appear right under the chapter number, in a different font/size than the scenes, and it just doesn’t happen. I’ve found no way to format it in a way that’s useful, I’ve tried every setting I could think of, and nothing works. Instead, I see page breaks I don’t want and can’t turn off, it appears in the same format as the chapter numbers, which I don’t want, or it appears with a scene separator, which I don’t want either.

Also, the “as is” formatting the compile section claims it does, it actually doesn’t. If the editor shows indents but then the pdf doesn’t in spite of saying “it’ll appear as in the editor”, how does that make sense?

Seriously, like this, version 3.x is unusable for me. This should be a simple, straightforward process, as it used to be in version 2.x.

The “middle section” in the compile dialog you like referring to is absolutely useless if you can’t actually change the formatting right there.

I’ve by now wasted hours over something that used to take me 10 minutes to set up in version 2.x. So right now, it feels like I wasted a LOT of money over something that used to be great but isn’t even good anymore.

Please fix this and make the compile process as easy (and actually usable) as it used to be! I don’t have the time to work myself through countless hours of learning when it used to be user-friendly and obvious.


While experienced users like yourself had figured out how to whip Scrivener 2’s Compile command into shape, the Scrivener 3 approach is designed to be more accessible to new users and seems to be succeeding in that goal. It is also more flexible and more powerful than the Scrivener 2 approach.

If you haven’t seen it already, there’s an upgrade guide for Scrivener 2 users here:
literatureandlatte.com/scri … date-guide

To your specific question, the best place to add a “byline” for some chapters would be in either the Title Suffix or the Section Prefix, both of which are defined as part of the Section Layout. See Section 24.2.3 of the Scrivener manual for more information about the Section Layout editor.


Thanks for the response. I’m not trying to load older presets into 3.x, I just want a straightforward way to set up the compile process. And it’s most definitely NOT easier to use in 3.x than it was in 2.x.

I’ve now tried about ten different ways to include the byline into the compile result, and it’s not even showing up, never mind showing up in the correct/wanted format.

–edited for images not showing up, so I deleted them–

Of course, it’s quite possible that I’m simply too stupid to do it right, but if 2.x is deemed more complicated than 3.x, then obviously I was smart enough to make the same thing work in the more complicated version. I’m seriously considering simply calling 3.x unusable and going back to Word (which I hate for writing). Compiling something for print should not be taking hours on end. :frowning:

The update guide walks through the new Compile function, so I’d definitely recommend it even if you aren’t trying to transfer specific presets.

Have you opened a support ticket for your specific question? I’d be happy to try to help, but that’s hard to do without more detail about what you’ve already tried and what you’re seeing.


Thanks for your patience. Mine has run a bit thin right now.

This is how it looks in the manuscript

This is the output - numbering automatic, byline doesn’t show.

I’ve labeled the folder "byline"in section types as “chapter heading”, which I’ve given a checkmark in the compile dialog.

Still, it does not show (this is in the epub3 settings).

Now, after checking ALL boxes in the left column, it finally shows. So, good luck to me finding which checkbox actually did it :neutral_face:

This kind of proves what I’ve been trying to say, though: It’s not easier to use if it takes you hours of trying to match checkboxes to something that should be easy enough to identify. So I guess the problem is kind of solved, but it still doesn’t make this version user-friendly.

Powerful is great only if the GUI is actually helpful in channeling that power into productivity instead of needless problem-solving.

Thanks for trying to help, though. It IS appreciated.


See, but now the other chapters which I haven’t labeled “chapter headings” are also showing, which they aren’t supposed to…

So the problem really isn’t solved, it has just shifted somewhere else.

You “simply” needed to know which Section Layout was being used, which you can see using “Assign Section Layouts” in the main window. Admittedly there is a little friction there, because you need to go back to the main Compile Window and look in “Assign Section Layouts” to find this out. In the next update, there will be an info area beneath that list that shows you which Section Types in your project are using each Section Layout, and you will be able to get straight to the Section Layout you want to edit from the main Compile window, so this will be easier.

I worked long and hard on improving the Compile process for 3.0, and over all it has been a success, fortunately. With Scrivener 2 we had a lot of support tickets from users confused over Compile. Those have been reduced now that Compile is easier out of the box. It is also vastly more flexible. Of course, any new system is going to have teething problems, both in terms of a user having to adjust and in terms of the system needing refinements with more real-world use.

You need to know two things:

  1. Which Section Type is assigned to your affected chapters.

  2. Which Section Layout is assigned to that type via Assign Section Layouts. That’s the layout you will need to edit.

Yeah, thanks. I really don’t know what anyone might find easier to use in this compile process. None of it is self-explanatory, whatever changes one makes, thinking it MAY just do what used to take seconds in v2, don’t end up the way they are supposed to.

Seriously, I’m not trying to be difficult here, but after ten minutes of research, it was possible to compile a book with all the works in v2 (and I’ve compiled three books for a friend for self-publication, and one for myself). By now, I’ve literally spent around five or six hours to do the same with v3, and it’s still not coming out even close to what it should be. There’s always some unintended result in the outcome.

I really don’t care that it’s supposed to be powerful if it’s not facilitating the simplest of settings in a straightforward way.

Why can I not control the paragraph spacing in the setting for the text in the compile section? And if I can, why is that impossible to find? And if it’s somewhere else to be found, why are there several windows to make changes for the same type of thing?

I am SERIOUSLY regretting spending so much money for software that simply does not work and/or is impossibly convoluted to use. And I refuse to believe that the overall customer feedback is that it is easier to use than earlier versions.

I appreciate that you have spent lots of time on developing it, but to me, your product is now pretty much unusable.

Edit the relevant Compile Format, and in the Section Layouts tab you’ll find a formatting panel almost identical to the one you would have used in Scrivener 2.


I just gave up on Scrivener 3.
And went back to Scrivener 2.
The compile process is not intuitive but at least it’s comprehensible with a few efforts, while the one in 3 is just non-sense. And no, it’s not cleaner, more accessible, better organized.
What is also very frustrating is that migration from 2 to 3 migrates nothing besides the text itself. The compile settings are fully lost, and you’re up to the nightmare to try to understand how to format basic stuff.

To go back to Scrivener 2 I had to create a Mac virtual machine with Sierra so I can run the 32bit version.
I have seen many apps breaking “natural” workflows under the pretext of improving things, but that much, never.
Actually, I use it to show what not to do to my computing classes, as an example.
Too bad.
Fortunately, if you can afford VMWare or Parallel, you can stick to something that works.

Thank you for your opinion.

I disagree.
Version 2 Compile was completely incomprehensible until I found a book that went through it all, step by step. A whole book to be able to compile!

Version 3 compile I understood almost at once. Much more logical, but yes it takes some time to look at all the possible settings.

Using software is often like reading a book or admiring a painting, no two views are exactly the same. But it does seem clear that the biggest complaints we see on the forum for Compile-V3 is from users of V2. Learning can be hard, but unlearning is much harder. So I think we (meaning other users) get that.

Having said that, I still get surprised that anyone can look at Compile-V3 and not see how it is a clear overall improvement, even if they do find it personally hard to relearn. The concepts of how the document is structured and what to do with that structure is visually exposed and manipulable in a way that V2 never had. The point is as a V2 users you really really need to step back, and try to get a global view with fresh eyes: “Section Types” – the different chunks of a document structure and “Section Layouts” – what and how they can be represented. V3 makes this a much clearer representation: “semantics” (what it means, what type it is) and “forms” (how it will look / layout) – Look at the “Section Layouts” pane of the compile pane. This is a clear and elegant visual presentation of what [semantic] types will receive what visual representations. I don’t want to insult anyone, but to say this is a step back from V2 really suggests to me that someone has not yet understood what has changed and why.

If Compile-V3 had just been V2 with more tweaks and twiddles it would have been opaque and unwieldly, though an existing user may have more easily extended their skillset, compile would have been functionally constrained (V3 can do tons more than V2 could) and increasing hard for new users.