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Header image | Compiling: Output optionsCompiling is the final step in the self-publishing sequence (although you are free to compile whenever you feel the need!).

For many, compiling poses the greatest challenge. There seem to be so many options, and the route to producing precisely what you want resembles a labyrinth at first sight.

Labyrinth | Compiling: Output options

However, Scrivener offers default settings, you could produce something that’s OKAY, without having to understand every nook and cranny of the options available to you.

In this series of posts. I focus on three aspects of compiling:

  • In this post, it’s output options.
  • Next time: section types
  • After that: placeholders, headers and footers

I already published a series of posts on compiling with Scrivener 3, that I recommend you read:

Notice that three of them refer to outputting: to PDF, an eBook and to Kindle.

I explain in Compiling with Scrivener 3: An Introduction  that the first decision is ‘What will be compiled?’

Question 2 is ‘What output route will you take?’ and that’s what I’m focusing on in this post.

Output options

Output options

The output route

One of the beauties of Scrivener is that you can have one manuscript but take it down more than one route and produce many different outputs.

Notice that Scrivener separates the options into six groups.

  • Print or PDF
  • RTF or Word or Open Office …
  • Plain text or HTML
  • Final Draft or Fountain Screenplay
  • Ebook or Kindle
  • MultiMarkdown …

This is no accident! When you select one from a group, the Scrivener Formats on offer are similar.

PDF/Print options

PDF/Print options

Print/PDF output

For Print and PDF, there are ten Scrivener formats. From the description of each, you could hazard a guess as to what might be produced.

For fun, we could compile for each one and see what Scrivener gives you.

First though, what about the others options?

RTF or Word or Open Office …

For RTF and Open Office, the Scrivener formats are the same as for Print/PDF.

For Word, it’s the same with one addition: Vellum export for .docx files.

Plain text or HTML

For plain text, there are very few options.

Plain text options

HTML has a few more.

HTML options

Final Draft or Fountain Screenplay

Final Draft and Fountain Screenplay have only ‘Script or Screenplay’.

Ebook or Kindle … or Markdown

Only three for ebooks or Kindle

Ebook Kindle options

MultiMarkdown … another three.

MultiMarkdown options


Choosing the Scrivener Format

PDF optionsSo, having determined which output route suits you this time … there are usually only a few more decisions to make to settle on which format suits you best.

Let’s assume you are aiming for a PDF output. You have ten options.

For the first two outlines, compare ‘enumerated’ with ‘full indented’. This is how the enumerated looks.

Enumerated outline

Then there’s the Outline document which outputs titles and synopses. Notice that, unlike the ‘full indented’ option, there is no indentation.

Outline | Compiling: Output options

Manuscript (Courier), Manuscript (Times) and Modern are explained in the Scrivener manual:

Scrivener manual extract | Compiling: Output options

The two Paperback options provide a choice of sizes to suit the two main markets.

The Proofcopy is set up to include warning messages for the reader, both in the chapter headings and in the footer.Proofcopy example | Compiling: Output options

Finally, the Script option. Clearly, this is for plays, and most of the formatting is done (automatically) within the Editing pane. However, this output format promises additional refinements. For further details, see  section D.4.1 of the Scrivener manual!

Adapting the Scrivener format for your own purposes

Duplicate & Edit Format | Compiling: Output optionsHaving chosen the Scrivener format that you think is closest to what you really want, you need to customise that. You can’t alter the defaults but you can use Duplicate & Edit Format to create your own format which you can then tweak to suit your own purposes.

To find out how to do that, consult the Compile series of blog posts. In particular. I show how to set up your own format, based on one of Scrivener, in these posts:

Questions? Need a helping hand? Want a demo?

To watch me demonstrating how to set up a format from a Scrivener default format or to ask any questions, book a place at the next Simply Scrivener Special. 60 minutes of Q&A on Scrivener with me, Anne Rainbow, ScrivenerVirgin!

To help me prepare, you could also complete this short questionnaire.

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