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Tech Tuesday: Compile in Scrivener 2.x

Part of Scrivener’s beauty is that it lets you build your project in your own way. But when you need to export your jumble of files into one coherent work—say for printing, or formatting in a word processor—it’s time to compile.

In a nutshell, the Compile feature lets you choose which documents to export and in what format.

Simple Compile

For a quick, easy export method, stick to the Scrivener presets.

1. From the File menu, choose Compile.

2. In the Format As drop-down, choose the desired format for your finished file.

Original: Produces output as close as possible to your draft, including font, line spacing, and other formatting.

Enumerated Outline: Only exports the document titles, and is numbered based on the hierarchical structure of your documents.

Novel (Standard Manuscript Format): Creates a book format using Courier 12 pt, scene separators, double-spacing, and page numbers. Treats top-level folders and files as chapters and everything else as sections.

Proof Copy: Outputs text that’s double-spaced for note-taking, and includes a disclaimer that it’s “Not for distribution”. Treats folders as chapters and everything else as sections.

Times 12pt with Bold Folder Titles: Pretty much what it says. Treats folders as chapters, and everything else as sections.

3. In the Compile For drop-down, choose the file type you want.

– Note the exciting addition of EPUB and Kindle formats. I’ve already exported my latest MS to my Nook for review and it looks great.

– Also, RTF is generally the recommended format for word processing, even if you're using Word for your final polishing. The DOC format is really just an RTF in disguise. Word will open RTF files without issue.

4. Click Compile.

5. Unless you selected the Printing/PDF option, choose the location for your file and click Export.

File type options in Compile window

Customizing Settings in Compile

Now, if you want to get fancy, it’s time to open the expanded Compile interface. This is where you can change the document formatting and section separators, add a cover to your e-book, and more. You can also choose exactly which files to export. Only need the first three chapters for that partial request? No problem.

1. From the File menu, choose Compile.

2. Click the expansion arrow to the right of the Format As drop-down to show a table of customizable options.

Customize your settings in the expanded Compile interface

A few notes:

– To create a partial export, select only those documents you need in the Contents pane.

– Click the filter checkbox to filter your selected list of files by Label, Status, Collection, or Binder selection. It might be easier than fiddling with the individual Include checkboxes.

– Changes to your settings are always saved upon compile. To save your settings for the current project without compiling the draft, hold down the Option key to turn the Compile button into a Save button. The Cancel button also changes to a Reset button if you want to undo any changes made since the last time the settings were saved.

– If you want to save your settings for use in other projects, follow the procedures outlined in this post.

– The customizable options will change depending on what you choose in the Compile For drop-down.

Chapter Auto-numbering [Added 10/26/12]

Remove Chapter Auto-numbering

1. From the File menu, choose Compile.

2. Choose the Formatting tab and select the folder row in the top table.

3. Click the Section Layout button.

4. If it’s not already selected, choose the Title Prefix and Suffix tab at the top. Delete any text in the Prefix box (it would look something like Chapter <$n>.

5. Click OK to close the Section Layout window.

Use Chapter Auto-numbering Instead of Chapter Titles

1. From the File menu, choose Compile.

2. Choose the Formatting tab.

3. Deselect the Title check box for the folder row in upper table.

NOTE: If you'd like to change the auto-numbering to use letters (i.e. One, not 1), go into the Section Layout as described in the “Remove Chapter Auto-numbering” section and change $n to $t.

Tip (currently Mac only):
To prevent specific documents from being auto-numbered (like front matter), go to the Title Adjustments tab. If you have your front matter items in a Front Matter folder, you can select the appropriate check box. If not, use the drop-down labeled “Choose…” to select the documents you don’t want auto-numbered. Click Choose until you’ve selected all the documents you don’t want auto-numbered (they’re designated by a check mark on the list once selected).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t possibly cover everything about this important topic in one post, but don’t be afraid to play with the settings and see what you get.

Still need more help? 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.

 Good luck!

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Tech Tuesday: Project templates revisited for Scrivener 2.x

A Scrivener project template is a framework on which to base a new project. Whether you’re penning a book, article, screenplay, or research paper, there's a template for you. (For more on how to choose the best template for your project, check out Choosing a Scrivener Project Template.)

For example, the Novel template comes prepopulated with certain folders, such as Manuscript, Characters, Places, Research, and Templates (the latter is for document templates, which are similar but are for documents within a project). The Novel template also includes Compile settings that are tweaked to export your file in standard novel format. For a minimalist approach, start with the Blank template.

Here's how to use project templates, and create your own.

Creating a New Project from a Built-in Template

  1. Click on the File menu, choose New Project.
  2. Click on the appropriate category icon along the left side, and choose a template from the list.
  3. Click Choose.
  4. Give the new project a name and location, and click Create.

Template window

Project based on the built-in Novel template

Even if an existing template doesn’t have quite the set up you’re looking for, chances are it’s a good place to start. For example, I based my book project on the Novel template, then added folders for the four parts of my novel, changed the Label and Status fields, added an Unused Scenes folder, a saved search, and more.

Creating a Custom Template Based on Your Project

Once you have your project put together the way you like to work, you can create your own template for future projects. If you make changes down the road, just save the improved version with the same name to replace the old version.

  1. Unless you’re using a blank project to create your template, click on File, Save As and give the project a new name to distinguish it from your working project. You’ll be able to delete this once you’ve created your new template, so you may want to save it to the Desktop for easy access.
  2. Strip out all of the manuscript-specific items (unless you want those scenes in all of your future work ;-)).
    NOTE: Not only can you save the structure and layout, you can even incorporate reference files (like a story structure cheat sheet or a reminder of how to write a synopsis) into your template. In fact, anything in the file when you save it as a template will remain, so be sure to strip it of anything you don’t want (including project-specific settings, keywords, and meta-data values) before saving.
  3. Click on the File menu, choose Save As Template.
  4. Enter a name.
  5. Choose a category (where it will be listed in the Template window).
  6. Enter a description, if desired.
  7. Choose an icon, if desired.
  8. Click OK.

Saving a stripped out project as a template

Filling in the information for a custom template

Creating a New Project Based on a Custom Template

Follow the instructions from Create a New Project from a Built-in Template above, but choose the custom template you created.

Template Options

Notice that the Options button in the Project Templates (Mac)/New Project (Windows) window provides four choices.

  1. Set Selected Template as Default: Will highlight that template in the Template window every time you open it.
  2. Import Template: Allows you to import a template you’ve downloaded from the web or a friend, or transfer templates from another computer.
  3. Export Template: Allows you to export a template to be moved to another computer, or to share with others.
  4. Delete Selected Template: Lets you delete a template you no longer want (custom templates only).

Got any questions? Ask away.

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.

[Updated 1/27/17]

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Tech Tuesday: Advanced Highlighter Features in Scrivener

You probably know that you can highlight text in Scrivener using your choice of colors. Big deal, right? Any decent word processor offers that. But did you know that you can also search by color, and rename the colors to something more meaningful for how you use them?

If not, then read on.

Just in case you don't know already, here's how to highlight text in Scrivener with one of the standard highlighter colors (or one of your own choosing).

  1. Select the text you want to highlight.
  2. Go to Format–>Highlight, and then choose the color from the submenu.

Now on to the really cool stuff. I know several people who mark up their paper drafts with highlighters. Why? One does it for items such as dialogue, emotion, conflict, and setting. Another marks each character's dialogue so he can track it through the whole MS and make sure it's consistent. Still another uses it to mark areas that need research or revision (much like we did with annotations).

You are only limited by your imagination here. Once you've marked up your draft, you can use the Find Highlight function to search for all highlighted text, or one color.

  1. Go to Edit–>Find–>Find By Formatting.
  2. In the Find drop-down menu, select Highlighted Text.
  3. To search for only one color, check the box next to Limit Search To Color, then click the color box to choose the desired color.
  4. Click Next (or Previous if you want to go backwards).
  5. Scrivener will take you to the next instance of the chosen color(s) in your MS.
  6. You can edit or read the text and then click Next again to move to the next instance, without closing the Highlights Finder dialog box.

Image of Formatting Finder window
If you'd like the change the color names to something more meaningful, you can do that too (currently Mac only).

  1. Go to Format–>Highlight–>Show Colors.
  2. Select the color label (double click) and type your own label.
  3. The new labels will show up in the Highlight submenu of the Format menu.

I hope you found this as cool as I did. 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.

Happy highlighting!
[updated 7/31/14]

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Tech Tuesday: Scrivener Format Menu Tidbits

[Aug 10, 2012 UPDATE: A reader pointed out that this entire post was out of date because the Text menu made like the dinosaurs sometime in the two years since I wrote this. Most Text menu features are now available under the Format menu on both Mac and PC. I've changed the instructions below accordingly.]

Scrivener is full of many small but very useful features. I have stumbled across most of them by accident, and I thought I'd share them over the next couple of Tuesdays.

Converting Multiple Spaces to Single Space

In many parts of the publishing world, the new standard for spacing is a single-space between sentences. Until I got used to typing that way though, I had a complete MS that was double-spaced. You could use Project Replace to fix it, but there's an even easier way. Of course.

1. View the affected text in the Editor (view your Manuscript folder in Scrivenings view to affect the entire MS), and click inside the Editor pane to activate it.

2. From the Format menu, choose Convert.

Note that the Convert submenu also offers easy text conversions for UPPERCASE, lowercase, and Title Case.

3. Click Multiple Spaces to Space.

If you just can't get over typing two spaces between words, another option is to convert from multiple to single spaces during the compile process. You'll find the option under the Transformations tab.

Show Invisible (non-printing) Characters

Have you ever wanted to view the non-printing characters in your MS? You know, like paragraph marks and spaces? Scrivener has a function called Show Invisibles that does just that.

1. From the Format menu, choose Options, then Show Invisibles (affects all documents).

2. To remove, repeat Step 1.

Use Typewriter Scrolling in the Editor Window

In Full Screen mode, the line you're typing is always at the center of the page by default. Unless I'm editing, I love it because I'm not always looking at the bottom of the window while typing, but I don't always write in Full Screen. This feature–called Typewriter Scrolling–is also available in the Editor window.

1. Click within a text document.

2. From the Format menu, choose Options, then Typewriter Scrolling.

3. Will affect all documents until you turn it off by repeating Step 2.

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.

 If you have any ideas for future Tech Tuesday columns, please let me know. Happy writing!

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Tech Tuesday: Saving Compile Manuscript Settings in Scrivener

Last week's Tech Tuesday post on Templates was the most popular ever. Thanks to everyone who stopped by! That's a hard act to follow, but I'll give it my best.

Did you know that in addition to saving your project settings into a template, you can also save your Compile Manuscript settings?

Here are the benefits of such a feature. Once you get everything set the way you want it, the settings will be available to all projects. In addition, you can save more than one print setup, so you could have one for e-books, one for manuscript submissions, and another for what you send to your critique partner.

Brilliant, I say.

Here's how to save your settings.


1. Go to File–>Compile.

2. Set the options for Content, Text Options, and Formatting exactly the way you want to save them. The only options that won't be saved are the document and folder selections, since these are project specific.

3. Click the Format As drop-down menu at the top of the window and choose Manage Compile Format Presets.

4. Click the [+] button at the bottom right of the window that appears.

5. Enter a name for the saved settings (e.g. Novel Export, or Notes Only), and click OK. Click OK again to return to Compile.

6. Your saved preset now appears in the Format As drop-down menu, under My Formats.


1. Go to File–>Compile.

2. Set the options for Content, Text Options, and Formatting exactly the way you want to save them. The only options that won't be saved are the document and folder selections, since these are project specific.

3. Click the Save Preset button at the bottom left of the Compile window.

4. Enter a name for the saved settings (e.g. Novel Export, or Notes Only), and click OK.

5. Your saved preset now appears in the Format As drop-down menu, under My Formats.

Using Saved Settings

Now you've saved your settings into a file, but the really powerful part comes when you're ready to use them.

1. From any project, repeat step 1 above to open the Compile window. The current settings will be whatever you last used when you exported or printed, or the software default if it's a new project.
(Note: the most recent settings in Compile affect the word count in the various statistics views.)

2. Select your preset from the Format As drop-down list.

3. Make sure you've chosen the correct files and folders to include and you're ready to print or export your draft.

I hope this saves you some time in the future.

As always, I'd love to hear your ideas for a future Tech Tuesday topic.

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.

 Write on!
[Updated 5/10/13]

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Tech Tuesday: Advanced Searches in Scrivener

Well, last week's Tech Tuesday post on the cool search engine WolframAlpha went over like a lead balloon, so this week it's back to Scrivener to learn about advanced search features.

The easiest search to use in Scrivener is the Project Search, which is available from the Search box in the toolbar. You type in the word, word part, or phrase you're looking for, and a list of all documents containing your search string will appear in the binder. Click on each document to see the search string highlighted wherever it occurs in that file.


To close the search results, click the small X at the bottom right corner of the Binder panel.

Now, what if you want to limit your search to your synopses, or you want it to be case-sensitive? Never fear, there's a menu for that. Just click on the magnifying glass (see image below).


If you find yourself performing the same search repeatedly, click on Save Search As Collection. The saved search will retain all of your preferences, and show up in your Collections with the title you provide. Go to View–>Collections–>[name of saved search] to run the search anytime and view the results.

One last note about searching. If you only want to search within the individual text document you're working on, go to Edit–>Find–>Find, and fill out the dialog box.

As always, for more information, check out my book or online courses.

Now that you know how to search, next week we'll discuss Project Replace. Happy hunting!

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.

[Updated 8/25/14]

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