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Writing a series in Scrivener

books on a shelfBook series are king in the world of genre fiction. So popular, in fact, that it’s rare to see a standalone book these days. But how to handle writing a series in Scrivener? One book per project or one series per project?

My personal preference has always been to keep one manuscript per project and drag overlapping research/supporting materials from one Binder to the other as needed. I like a clean Binder, and multiple manuscripts sounds messy and possibly confusing.

I also worry about the overall file size for a multi-book project—especially if I have a lot of images and PDFs—because large files can make for slow backups, transfers, and auto-saves.

(If you need a single place for all research, images, and so on, but still want separate projects for each book, I recommend a single project file as a “series bible” that you can keep open while writing in another project.)

But some recent conversations with writers who use one project for an entire series—like Mindy Klasky with her Diamond Brides books—has me rethinking the multiple-book file.

Here are some of the benefits to keeping a connected series of books in one Scrivener project.

  • Need to change a name/word throughout the series? You only have to run Project Replace once.
  • You can search for overused words and phrases across the entire series, and verify consistency of things like company names and descriptions of places or people.
  • When you need to add a new character, you can do a quick search to ensure you haven’t used that name already. It’s easy to forget minor characters’ names by book five.
  • Tracking a story arc, timeline, or a character’s voice over several books in a series is much easier if the books are in the same project. Label, Status, and/or keywords are your friend here. Save a project search as a collection for a quick way to view all of the related documents or compile them into one file.
  • Having all of your research, notes, character information, setting details, and other supporting materials in one place has always been a clear benefit.
  • It’s a cinch to refer back to previous story lines or characters without opening a separate file.
  • If you’re self-publishing and want to put a sample chapter into the back of a book, you’ll have easy access to the content without opening another project. Plus, you can re-use some of the same front and back matter items across the entire series.

When I started writing Blind Fury, I wasn’t sure it was going to turn into a series, but now that I’m working on books two and three, I can see the value of having quick access to the other stories. That need will only grow as I write more.

I think at some point there is probably a practical limit to the number of manuscripts you should keep in one file—Six? Ten? Twelve?—but depending on your needs, the pros may far outweigh the cons.

Wondering what a multi-book Binder might look like? Here's an example of how might approach it (based on a conversation in the comments with Gail and Gary). I changed the icon for each book folder to make it easier to pick them out in the Binder. {Added 10/17/14}

Multi-book Binder example

If you’re working on a series, what’s your preference? Any other benefits or disadvantages I didn’t mention?

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

Photo credit: HarryPotterBooks by Pastorius (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Reply

    I’m definitely satisfied with my series in one project. And I haven’t had a problem with slowness when I do a backup or copy. I have one master list of characters, divided into sections for my PI agency people, then a section for the other people in each book. I like not having to change projects when I want to work on something in another book. I have one almost finished, needing only final polish. Books two and three are in rough draft form. And I’m making notes on book four, as I work on the revisions of book two. It’s super simple to switch between books.

    • Reply

      That sounds great, Barbara. Thanks for letting me know how you have yours set up. I’m glad to hear you’re not experiencing any issues. Good luck with your series!

  2. Reply

    Although I don’t have a series yet, I can see where Scrivener would definitely make things easily organized and easily accessed. I’m considering a series in the near future. Thanks for another great post! 🙂

  3. Reply

    Interesting concept and I can see the value. I may have to figure out how to do this while my dragon is still small (just starting the second book).

    • Reply

      kaitcarson: Earlier is better. You could drag your book two documents into the book one Binder to combine them. It’s really that simple to move files between projects. 🙂 Either way, good luck with book two!

  4. Reply

    I’m just getting started with this, so I haven’t decided yet. This raises some good points for consideration.

  5. Gail Molsbee Morris


    Could you show/tell me what the sidebar will look like? Would it be something like:
    Book 1
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Book 2
    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2, etc.
    Book 3


    Then when publishing I can designate only the chapters under Book 1?

    This may be a silly question, I just haven’t used Scrivener enough to have this pictured well. I do have a series of three books under separate projects but it sounds very helpful to have them all in one Project. I just wasn’t sure how easy it would be when it came to publishing. Would love some more “practicum blogs” on this topic.Sorry if this is tooooooooooo a remedial question!

    • Reply

      No problem, Gail! Basically, anything within the Draft/Manuscript folder is available to be compiled (exported) when you’re ready, but in the Contents pane of Compile, you can choose to include only a portion of what you have in the Draft. So, it’s super simple to choose only the book you want to work with at that time.

      The other option would be to only have the “current” book in the Draft folder and keep the others outside of it. Both would work; it’s more of a preference thing that is easily changed at any time by moving things around.

      Your sample Binder looks good to me. I have scene documents within my chapter folders, but the concept is the same. Then, if needed, you can divide up your supporting materials and notes into folders by book as well, to keep things organized. HTH!

  6. Reply

    I’m with Gail on this one. I’ve had other friends talk of writing with a Scrivener template that allows multiple books in a series in a single project. But no one’s ever explained the mechanics of setting that up. I too am pretty new to Scrivener, creating projects, setting up the projects to work effectively, etc.

    Anybody with a good step-by-step “how to” for setting up, say 4 or 5, books in a series in a single project? It would be wonderful if someone more experienced than I would be willing and able to do something like this — or point the way to something like this that’s available.

    Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      • Gary Speer


        Thanks, Gwen. That was an extremely helpful link. You’re right, I’m sure, that I’m probably making it too complicated. The link you included to that graphic, along with your comment above to Gail, have helped me get a better handle on visualizing how it could work. (BTW — I’ve been a subscriber to your blog for several months. Keep up the wonderful ideas and tips you share with us!)

          • Korky Kathman


            Hi Gwen. Thanks for this! I’ve been looking on how to do this and was told by L&L Support that it couldn’t be done!. I was trying to create a second manuscript file in the project and didn’t know how. What it looks like you did however was just use ONE manuscript file (that comes with whatever template you user) then you just create folders for each book, and sub-folders for chapters (subs for scenes if you want I suppose). I’m going to try this, but my books ARE long (<70,000 words in some cases). That might really slow it down.

            • Reply

              Hi Korky, I am using this method and am on the third novel in my series. There is no noticeable slow down of the program and I get to keep all of my notes in one project.

            • Reply

              Absolutely, Korky! I’m guessing they meant you can’t have more than one “true” manuscript folder, which is correct. When it comes time to compile, you need to make sure the book you want to export is in the Manuscript/Draft folder. But other than that, you can keep as many manuscripts as you want in a single project.

              As PN Burros mentioned, the project shouldn’t get slow if most of your content is text documents. The only place you might notice a slowdown is when Scrivener is creating the backup file. Good luck!

  7. Reply

    I’ve found that a single manuscript within Scrivener has caused the file to slow right down, lag and generally be a pain to work with.
    I admire anybody who has managed to organise themselves to the point that multiple manuscripts within one file is possible.

    I had planned to do with with a series of novellas, but the first one got so busy that I just saved a new project for the second one and carried over what I needed.

    • Reply

      Ileandra: I’m surprised it’s slow with one manuscript. I have found that having certain other (memory-hogging) programs open at the same time can slow things down. Also, importing web pages and then trying to view them in Scrivener is generally awful. I much prefer to use Project References.

      Anyway, I’m with you on the crowded Binder. That’s probably the number one thing that has kept me from keeping a whole series in one project up to this point. 🙂

      • Reply

        Project references? Not sure I’ve come across that yet. Have you done a post about it; I’ll look it up.
        I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo (again) this year using Scrivener and any extra tricks I can gather will only be good things. ^_^

      • Reply

        When I have too many folders open in my binder, I’ll select Manuscript, then click on view, then outline, then collapse all. Bingo. You’re back to everything closed and you can start fresh opening folders. When I discovered this trick, it really simplified things for me.

        • Reply

          Yes, Barbara! Collapse All/Expand All are both helpful. I’m a fan of the shortcuts: Command+0 and Command+9 on the Mac, Alt+[ and Alt+] in Windows.

          Here are some others you might like:

          – Use the LeftArrow and RightArrow keys to open/close the selected folder.

          – Collapse all items in the Binder to the current level with View–>Outline–>Collapse All to Current Level (shortcut is Control+Command+0 on the Mac, Alt+hyphen in Windows). For example if you if have an outline that has three levels of depth, and select a folder on level 2, running this command will collapse all items so only those at levels 1 and 2 show.

          Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  8. claredragonfly


    Great post! I used three separate Scrivener projects for the last trilogy I wrote, but you’ve definitely made me think that just one project would be easier. I especially like your idea of using a different icon for the folder containing a whole book. I think I’ll do my next trilogy all in one project!

    • Reply

      Thanks, claredragonfly. I’m still resisting combining my existing projects into one, but, like you, I plan to start my next series in one. 🙂

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  10. S. J. Pajonas (spajonas)


    Hi! I realize this is an old post, but I have a question. I’m thinking about doing this for a series of short stories. I mean, why not? Lol. But I was wondering about when you export and Scrivener building the TOC for each book. Does this nested folder structure screw that up? All my novels are currently Draft/Manuscript > Chapter Folder > Text, and that works fine. Will adding the additional level to the structure give me any exporting troubles? Thanks.

    • Reply

      S.J.: No problem. I try to keep up with all my posts. 😉 If you’re planning to compile each story separately, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

      If you’re planning to create a book of stories, you might encounter a problem with auto-numbering of chapters, since you’d want the numbers to start over with each story. There are a couple of ways to fix that. You could use the chapter folder titles instead of the auto-numbering (I have a post on that on my Scrivener Tips page, titled “4. Compile (export files)”). Or, you might be able to mess around with the <$sn> or <$rst_x> placeholder tags to restart the chapter numbering as well. I can’t remember if those are on the PC yet or not, and I don’t have my Windows computer handy right now. Good luck!

      • S. J. Pajonas (spajonas)


        Thanks so much for your reply! I’m on a Mac and I’ve played around with some of the placeholder tags, so I think I know what you’re getting at there. I’ll keep the auto-numbering in mind should I decide to do that. These are all short stories so I may not even do chaptering, just scenes. We’ll see. But your point about the TOC is helpful! We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for your help 🙂

      • S. J. Pajonas (spajonas)


        I just tested this out and love the results! I’ve never chosen a folder and then used the “Compile Group Options” before so that was a neat trick. I <3 Scrivener. It's my favorite app ever. Thanks for your help!

  11. Reply

    Gwen, thinking about the arrangement of the CHARACTERS and SETTINGS folders (with sub folders). Would these be best placed in the RESEARCH rather than in folders in the DRAFT section?


    • Reply

      Tessa: I’d recommend keeping them outside the Draft, either under Research or at the same level as Research. Partly because the Draft is intended to hold your writing (the stuff you plan to compile into a finished manuscript/book), and because you can’t include PDFs or Images as standalone files in the Draft folder. HTH!

  12. Reply

    This was a very helpful post for me. I’m getting ready to start a series of novels, and I was googling how to do it in one Scrivener project. And I found this. I am new to Scrivener and I’m on a Mac. It looks to me like you are not using the Novel template, but the Blank one? Is that true, and if so, why? Sorry if this is a rank newbie question and slightly off topic. 🙂 I’m taking your Compile course in May, and I need to sign up for the basic course, too….thanks for the great help!

    • Reply

      That’s great, Maggie! I don’t necessarily use a lot of the extra stuff that comes in the Novel template, so I prefer to start with a clean slate and only add what I need as I need it. Or start with my own template. I also picked Blank for this example just to keep it uncluttered. 😉 Not a newbie question at all. See you in May!

  13. bluebotpress


    Thanks for these tips Gwen, they were very helpful. One thing I wish Scrivener would do is to let the Compile presets save the documents to include. I haven’t seen a way to do this.

    • Reply

      Sure thing, bluebotpress. 😉 The reason the presets don’t save which documents to include is because the files available to choose from will change from project to project.

      However, one way to work around that is to create a collection with the files you want to compile routinely and use that as your source (at the top of the Contents pane, in the drop-down menu that says Draft [or Manuscript, or whatever your main folder is called]). The downside is that you lose the hierarchy (which might not matter if all the files are on the same level). If you work on a Mac, you can choose to *filter* by the collection instead and that will retain your Binder hierarchy. HTH!

    • Reply

      bluebotpress: Also, if you have each book in its own folder under the Draft/Manuscript, you can just select that book’s folder from list at the top of the Contents pane and that will pull in all of its subfiles, with hierarchy intact. Should have mentioned that in my first comment because it’s an easier solution and should work on both platforms. 🙂

  14. Ron Sheely


    If I develop a book series in Scrivener, how can I selectively compile a specific book?

    • Ron Sheely


      PS – I want to preserve hierarchy of each book in the series and selectively compile a specific book. If Scrivener does not support this directly, could it be scripted using a custom utility?

      • Reply

        Hey, Ron. It’s super easy. I’m doing a series in Scrivener. My book files are directly under Manuscript in the binder. Gwen will be able to give you the exact terms of what you’re looking for, but I can say it’s done on the Compile Contents tab. Under Manuscript directly across from Contents, you should see your books listed on a drop down menu.

      • Reply

        Hi, Ron. What Barbara said (thanks!). 😉 The Contents tab is the place to go to select what you do and don’t want to include. There’s a small drop down menu at the top of it that normally says Draft (or Manuscript). If you click that, you should be able to choose the folder for just the book you want.

        Or, you can just uncheck the items that don’t belong, but that’s a longer process. (TIP: You can select everything you want to uncheck and then hold down the Alt key [PC] or the Option key [Mac] while unchecking one of the selected items and all selected items will follow suit.)

        Another option would be to keep the other books in the series outside of the Draft folder and only work with one book in the Draft folder at a time. Hope that helps!

        • claredragonfly


          Ron–thanks for asking–and Gwen–thanks for answering! I can’t believe I’d never clicked on that dropdown menu before. I’d always just check or unchecked each individual folder or document manually. This will be so much easier for the series I’m working on!

        • Reply

          Thank you Gwen. I will follow your instructions. BTW, I am planning to use a private GitHub project repository has a home form my series writing project. My Scrivener test projects seem to be running smoothly on GitHub. Perhaps a Scrivener GitHub thread might be fun.

          • Reply

            Interesting, Ron. I’ve never played with GitHub, but there’s a frequent commenter on this site, Bob Cochran, who is a fan. You can find him on my recent Scrivener Updates post. 🙂 Good luck!

  15. Reply

    I came across this article while searching for a way to do just what you’ve described: write books 2, 3, 4, etc. in a series while retaining everything in a single project folder, with a single set of research/character info and easy access to previous books. I’m extremely disappointed this doesn’t seem built into Scrivener! Given, as you said, how popular series are nowadays, it seems strange Scrivener hasn’t built in this functionality yet.

    I’m doing what you’ve suggested right now, keeping everything neatly organized into individual book hierarchies, but I’m running into one big issue: project targets.

    Project targets were a lifesaver for book 1, telling me exactly how many words I needed to write per day to reach my goal. It was oh so satisfying when I had a particularly good day and wrote well over my daily amount, so that the next time I opened Scrivener, the daily amount was lower.

    But since all of these files are in the same project, now, Project Targets are much less meaningful. If book 1 is already 100,000 and I want book 2 to be the same, I have to set the Project Target as 200,000 and start at 100,000 as my baseline. It’s not nearly as satisfying, and I’m disappointed I can only set a generic target for individual documents, with just a percentage indicator to tell me how far I am and no way to get a daily count.

    Do you know if there’s a way to get around this? I’ve been using Scrivener for about 6 months now, but I know I’m not a power user yet. Appreciate any tips!

    • S. J. Pajonas (spajonas)


      Yep. This is easy to do as well. In the Project Targets preferences, set it to Compile group. Then go to Compile, choose your current project from the drop down and save (on Mac, you save your Compile settings by holding down Option. The Compile button will change to Save).

      And Scrivener is plenty robust to handle everything you can throw at it which is why it’s flexible and starts out with a skeleton. The features ARE built in. You just have to know how to use them.

      • Reply

        You are a scholar and a gentleman; I knew I probably was just not fiddling with the right settings, and your solution worked perfectly! I have noticed, as you mentioned in the article, that it takes a little longer as I go to back up when I exit, but it’s hardly unbearable at present. Since it’s important to me to keep all of my references and whatnot in a single place but still have one window open, I’ll stick with this method for now.

      • Reply

        I’m encountering a strange issue where the wordcount only evaluates the number of words in the CURRENT document I’m on, instead of the project as a whole. I’ve set the compile group to the second book in the series, as you mentioned, and that worked fine, but it isn’t recognizing that there are any words written (there are a few thousand already), and when I go to an individual document (representing a chapter, with a few hundred words of text already written), the project target tells my I’m only at a few hundred words into my word goal, instead of the several thousand that are scattered throughout the project. If I go to a different document, the number changes to that specific page’s wordcount.

        This didn’t happen with the last project, and I don’t believe I’ve touched anything, and the compile settings include the ENTIRE project (all chapters/documents), so I’m baffled as to what’s wrong.

        “count documents included in compile only” is checked, as is “target applies to current compile group only” and “count text written anywhere in the project”.

        • Reply

          Courtney: First, is your 2nd book in the Draft (or Manuscript) folder? If not, it needs to be there. That “count text written anywhere in the project” option only applies to your session word count, not the Draft total. So if you add text in documents outside the Draft, your session count will increase, but your Draft count will not. Even things included in the compile group will not be counted in the Draft word count if they’re not in the Draft folder.

          When you say the word count changes when you select a different document, do you mean in the footer of the Editor pane? That word count is the total of any document(s) being viewed in the Editor pane at that time. Selecting a different document should have no affect on the Project Targets window because it’s always based on Draft count and session count, regardless of what’s currently selected. If you’re looking at Project Statistics, the bottom section will change because that’s based on the current Binder selection.

          Feel free to clarify if I’ve misunderstood anything…

          • Reply

            “is your 2nd book in the Draft (or Manuscript) folder? If not, it needs to be there.”

            I had long ago renamed that folder for Book 1 and forgotten that it was anything particularly special. I moved the contents of that into a subfolder for Book 1, then moved the contents of Book 2 under that Draft/Manuscript folder as well, and after fiddling with the Compile settings, it’s working properly now! Sorry to use you as a troubleshooter, and thanks for the advice 🙂

            (by the way, for clarification: I meant the wordcount in the project targets window, which was calculating words in whatever document I was working on outside of the Draft folder and changing whenever I moved to a different chapter document)

  16. Reply

    I am in the process of trying to learn ‘how’ to combine my first 3 books in my series into a single Scrivener box set. I suspect that I’m going to have to “import” all three into a new Scrivner book…but was hoping to find a tutorial or template on how to do that? Plus as I write SciFi, I use many italics and want them to also be kept as same when I do the importing. Can you help here?

    • S. J. Pajonas (spajonas)


      Just start a new empty project and put that window to the left side of your monitor. Open your other Scrivener projects to the right side of that empty project, and click on the manuscripts in each, and drag them over to the new project. It’ll copy everything over and you don’t have to import.

      • Reply

        Nope. does not work….first I had to update them all to the latest version. after that, when I drag them I get the proper looking Binder chapters/scenes – but every single one is blank…ie NO text is brought over… Help here pls?

        • S. J. Pajonas (spajonas)


          I just tested it to make sure and it worked for me. Windows or Mac?

        • Reply

          Hmm, Jim, that should have worked. You might try using multiple selection and then dragging to the new Binder. Another option is to select the Draft folder in the new project, then go to File–>Import–>Scrivener Project and choose the desired project. Repeat until you bring them all in.

          It will import everything from the original project into a folder called Imported Project (filename) at the bottom of the Binder. You can move the subfolder that contains the manuscript to the Draft folder.

          It should retain all the italics and such. HTH!

  17. Joe C. Belland


    I just ran across your site and have just started trying out Scrivener. I presently use WriteItNow 4f with a 3 – novel series in progress. Your reply to Tessa Radley’s query of Feb 24/15 answered a question I had been searching the answer for and confirmed what I thought — and wanted to do — also. But it raised 3 other questions.

    First, there is a Templates folder containing Character Sketches and Place Sketches. Wouldn’t it make more sense to move those templates into the Characters and Places folders respectively and have each sketch immediately underneath it’s associated character or place?

    Second, I note that the Front Matter folder is outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder. Shouldn’t it be inside because that matter is expected to be included in the compiled project?

    And third, when compiling (if I understand that dialogue correctly) you can actually include something outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder in the compilation, Is that correct? If so, then perhaps that is where you check the boxes to include Front Matter. If not, then how is Front Matter compiled if not inside the Draft/manuscript folder.

    Thanks in advance! Informative site!


    Joe C. Belland

    • Reply

      I’m glad the site is helpful, Joe! Those are all great questions.

      The templates folder is where you put the template for a form, then you can create documents based on those templates. This prevents you from overwriting the template itself, so it can be used repeatedly. The Characters and Settings folders are intended to contain the documents based on the templates. You can create a document from a template by going to Project–>New From Template.

      The Front Matter can be included when you compile by choosing that option in the Compile window. The reason for keeping it outside is really for lack of clutter in your Draft/Manuscript folder. Within the Front Matter folder, you can have folders containing the different front matter items for different types of output. For example, your FM for an ebook might have a title page, copyright page, and dedication, whereas for FM for an agent/editor submission might only have a title page that includes your address, phone, and email.

      The Front Matter option in Compile should let you choose to include anything from outside the Draft/Manuscript folder, but you can only choose one document or folder. The other way to include items from outside the Draft is if you chose a collection or a current selection from the Compile Group selector (the top drop-down menu on the Contents tab). I don’t have my PC in front of me, so forgive me if you don’t see one of those options. Either way, keep in mind that only text documents can be compiled, not image files or PDF files. To include an image in your compiled output, it would have to be inserted into a document. I know you didn’t ask about images, but I have a post on them here if interested: Thanks!

      • Joe C. Belland


        Thanks for the clarifications – and the link! Again, very useful info!

  18. Reply

    Great article, it’s so obvious and yet I didn’t even consider of it. This has helped me enormously as I write the second in my series. I have now combined both books in to one scrivener project 🙂

    Thank you

  19. Reply

    This is such a great article and I appreciate your willingness to help out in the comments! 🙂 I’ve been writing a series in one project based on this advice. I’ve actually just finished the draft of the last book, so any advice I get now will be helpful only in the future… but I will probably do it again.

    So here’s my problem. I’m publishing the books as I go and aiming for the same general wordcount with each book. I track my wordcounts by going to “Targets” in Scrivener, where it shows me my goal and how close I am for the project/book and for the day. However, it seems that in order to limit the words counted to only the current book, I have to compile that book! Because I might need to recompile the ebook file from one of the earlier books in the series, and then go back to getting the correct wordcount for the current book, I end up having to compile incomplete drafts that are nothing more than electronic waste.

    I hope I’ve explained this well. Does anyone else have a way of getting around this? Can I get the correct wordcount without recompiling extraneous files?

    • Reply

      Hi, Clare. You have a couple of options. If you want to keep all of the books in the Draft folder, you can go into Compile, choose the files to track, and then press the Option key. The Compile button changes to a Save button. This saves the Compile settings w/o requiring you to compile anything. Or if you’re on a PC, just click the Save & Close button.

      Another option is to keep the inactive books outside of the Draft folder. You can move them back in if you need to compile later, but then for now you’ll only have your WIP in the Draft folder and that’s all Scrivener will count. Does that help?

  20. RayDen


    the icon that you say you changed for each book… how did you change it… and when you created that ‘book’ within the project… what did you ‘create’ to start it?

    • Reply

      RayDen: You can change the icon of any file by right-clicking (Control+click on a Mac) on the file name and choosing Change Icon. In my example Binder, I created a folder under/within the Draft folder for each book. I named each folder for the book it holds and changed the icon to a book icon. To create a folder in the Draft (a subfolder), select the Draft folder and go to Project–>New Folder. HTH! 🙂

  21. Danielle


    Hi Gwen,

    In the example you gave at the top, does it create links for every chapter of each book? I think my boxed set is set up like yours and that’s what it does. I have links that take me to each individual book and under each book they links for that book’s chapters are listed. I’m wondering how to create only the links for each book title without the chapter links. Any ideas? I think I might need to create a boxed set name as the manuscript and put each individual book in a folder, instead of having chapters in a folder. Perhaps I’d need to have the ‘Chapter One’, etc as a separate text/scene documents at the beginning of the chapter. I don’t know. What do you think?

    • Reply

      Hi, Danielle. I assume you’re asking about the table of contents (TOC) in an ebook. If so, yes. Scrivener automatically creates a TOC entry for every file that starts on a new page, and since generally new chapters get a page break, they’ll get a TOC entry too. You’ll also see this for documents that you force a page break for (on the Contents tab in Compile), like front and back matter items.

      What you could do is create your own TOC document to include in the final output. It would go in the front matter. To do that, just select only the book folders (using Command+click), then go to Edit–>Copy Special–>Copy Documents as Scrivener Links. Then paste into the TOC you created. That will give you links (no page numbers) to only the books.

      If you want Scrivener to use the TOC you created as the “software” TOC that the e-reader uses (e.g. Kindle, Nook), you can set that up in Compile. (It will still show up as a page in your book too.)
      1. Under the Layout tab, ensure that Generate HTML Table of Contents is checked.
      2. In the HTML Table of Contents title text box, enter the name of the TOC document you created.

      If you’d rather have your TOC show up at the front of the book, and still let the reader view a complete table of contents that includes books and chapters, then deselect the Generate HTML Table of Contents check box on the Layout tab of Compile. This tells Scrivener not to create a TOC document that goes in the book. It will still create the software TOC.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if I misunderstood your question. 🙂

  22. Danielle


    Darn. The Windows version of Scrivener doesn’t have a Layout option in Compile.

    • Reply

      Oh, shoot, sorry. For some reason I had it in my head you were on a Mac. You could still create your own TOC with book titles only, but you’ll have both yours and the Scrivener-created one in there. (This should get fixed in 3.0 out (hopefully) later this year.)

      Another option is to create the EPUB in Scrivener and then use Sigil (free download) to edit the TOC. Amazon will allow you to upload an EPUB and will create the MOBI from it using the same software Scrivener uses (Kindlegen).

  23. Danielle


    I’m currently showing the link for each individual book the way I’m doing it now. The issue is that the chapter links display afterwards.

    Scrivener for Windows is on version 1.9.xx. I haven’t downloaded the latest one due to the warning that some are having issues with it. Are you saying there will be a version 3.0 this year? What happened to 2.0?

    I’ll check out Sigil when I get a moment. Thanks, again.

    • Reply

      Danielle: I understand. You can create your own TOC, but the auto generated one will still be in there too.

      Yes, the next major upgrade for Scrivener is supposed to be 3.0. Since the Mac version is already on 2.x and they’re trying to create full feature parity between the two, my understanding is that Windows will skip to 3.0 so they’re both basically the same moving forward. 🙂

  24. Piermaria


    I wrote a book in an SF setting after writing a tale in the same setting. Years after I’m now writing another book in the same setting, it’s not a prequel but it is about a fact that indirectly changed the life of one of the characters in the first book. I was wondering a lot if using the same scrivener project or not. I read your article and I decided to do it. Thanks for the good analysis.

  25. Jasmine


    I know this is an older thread, but I’ve been loving this trick so much and I recently encountered a MAJOR issue with having multiple books in a single file. So I want to share for informational purposes (not to dissuade anyone from trying it out!)
    When trying to sync my existing Scrivener files to my new iPad I had problems with repeated crashing during sync. (FWIW, I also tried the sideloading through File Manger trick…no dice)
    Through a process of elimination, I figured out it was my series file (which is now 72MB)–all other files synced no problem, but that file is a trilogy with research, notes, and research, and notes, etc. I have no problem with syncing across a laptop and a desktop machine, but the iOS app is not having it 🙂
    I opened a support ticket, at least for their awareness, but in the meantime, I’ve just pulled the current book that I’m working on out of the trilogy into a separate file and uploaded that. It’s just a bummer because being able to search the file for references (continuity) was one of the coolest things!
    Once again, not trying to rain on the scrivener parade or this series management idea. I’m a devout scrivener user and this is by no means a dealbreaker for most people (especially if you’re not an app user), but if you do use the scrivener app AND sync across the devices you might also encounter this issue as your file size increases or you add a new device to your life. As with all things YMMV and, in this case, I hope you won’t have to deal with this!

    Thanks for all your great articles, Gwen!

  26. Reply

    What is the reasonable working word count in Scrivener, before the program slows down. I have a three books series in one project and suddenly Scrivener blew up?
    My word count was 685K words. Win 7 64 with 8 gb. version

    • Reply

      J: There’s no specific word count. Theoretically, a large project shouldn’t slow things down because each document is a separate document, accessed only as needed. That said, if you’re trying to view all 600+K words at once in Scrivenings view, or if you’re compiling all of them together, you might get a significant slow down. Backing up the project might also take longer.

      The other things that can slow down Scrivener are projects with a lot of images (esp when inserted into the text) and imported web pages. When you say Scrivener “blew up,” did it shut down on you, hang, give you some kind of error? What were you doing when it happened?

      • Reply

        Scrivener hangs, but it could be working. There is no ‘progress’ indicator illustrating progress in Scrivener. Hopes for Scrivener 3.0 for Win 7/64?
        I use the Win Task Manager, CTRL+ALT+DEL keys at the same time. That shows me what the machine CPU and memory are doing, that’s my progress indicator. Back up, compiling, etc. fail.

        • Reply

          J: The only thing I can think of to try besides restarting the computer (which I’m guessing you’ve already done) is maybe breaking up the project into three, and see if they work better divided.

          Or, you could try the Scrivener 3 release candidate and see if it’s an improvement (back up diligently). From what I can see, the Scrivener 3 RC is compatible with Win 7/64, but you’ll want to double check. You can learn more here:

          Good luck!

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