How to compile with Scrivener 3

Categories Editing tips

Compiling on Scrivener for me has always been a bit of a nightmare. The new Version 3 promised a much improved experience, so I upgraded. What can I say? The nightmare got worse? Hey, that describes the experience more or less accurately. The help function didn’t help much since it kept telling me how easy everything now was. Duh.

For IT savvy peeps, perhaps. But all I want to do is WRITE, EDIT and PUBLISH. I already have to maintain a website, conduct marketing campaigns etc etc. I so didn’t want to dig deeper into yet another IT mystery. But it had to be done – in order to edit, I need to get my texts out of Scrivener. Duh.

Sounds familiar? Perhaps, this article will facilitate the process for you. The important thing is to know there are two steps to take BEFORE the compiling process starts

A – assign sections to your document and B – assign layout to sections. And, yup, that was exactly what drove me crazy in the beginning.

How to assign a Section

I suggest to do this straightaway, i.e. when you start on a new manuscript (it can, of course, be applied to existing manuscripts afterwards). Open the inspector (by clicking on the little blue i in the top right), and then click on the metadata tab in the row below (see Image 1 below).

That gives you the option to not only include your block of text into compile (which is quite important and no longer done automatically), but it also allows you to define what your piece of text actually is. In this document, I only use two types of “sections” – chapters and scenes. Scrivener offers predefined categories (e.g Heading), but you can add your own definitions, like I did here. You might ask yourself “Why bother?”. Well, the reason becomes apparent as soon as you want to compile. Scrivener 3 offers a preselection of layouts (which you can edit and expand) to be assigned to your sections. In other words, chapter titles are formatted differently from blocks of text and you can select HOW exactly they are supposed to look, by assigning a layout to a section. This process is done via the compile window.

Assigning layouts to sections

Click on File, then on Compile. You will see a long list of different “output formats” on the left e.g. Manuscript Courier or Manuscript Times. Choose the one you want. The window next to it then offers you a list of different formats you can now assign to your sections. This can be achieved by pushing the “assign section layout button” at the bottom. Image 2 above shows you what you get once you’ve pushed that button. i.e. your two section types on the left, and the various layouts to choose from. Once you click on the one you want, it’s highlighted in blue (like in the image), and thereby assigned to your section. You do it for both all the sections you have, and – that’s it.

You can, of course, create your own layouts. For that, I would suggest to create a copy of a pre-designed layout and adjust it the way you want it e.g. by changing the font type and size, the spacing, indents etc. And that’s the gist of it!!!

Let me know if you found this helpful, and otherwise I wish you happy writing (and editing)

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