Ebook and Print Book Formatting with Scrivener

Ebook and Print Book Formatting with Scrivener

Why Scrivener?

1. A Structured Way of Thinking

Most word processors are designed linearly. A Microsoft word or text document, for instance, is one very tall column of digital “paper” in which you type words top to bottom, left to right. What you see is what you get.

Scrivener is designed “structurally.” One document can contain any numbers of folders, and files within those folders. If MS Word is a column, then Scrivener is a tree.

2. Superior Usability

When it comes to usability—the ease with which you can navigate and manipulate a manuscript—Scrivener provides a superior writing experience. While using Word may be easier for some uses—for instance, shorter files—Scrivener is designed for working with large manuscripts. For instance: a master’s thesis,  a novel, a collection of essays, a large cookbook, copy for a large website, etc.

It does this by including this Binder interface as the spine of the software:binder

With the Binder, you can organize files into folders and subfolders as deep as you want. It also allows you to keep your research (including images, PDF, etc.) right beside your working manuscript.

3. Freedom in Compile

Scrivener also provides a powerful set of Compile features for generating ebooks in various formats. Indie authors, due to the nature of their job, have to manage and distribute large numbers of digital files to various retailers (Amazon, B&N) and service providers (CreateSpace, Ingram Spark). Taking control of your content with Scrivener will allow you to be a more agile indie author.

The Interface







Compile Screen(s)


Compile - Formatting

Files needed to self publish your book (depending on platform)

– .epub (B&N, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, etc.)

– .mobi (Amazon)

– .pdf (CreateSpace/Ingram Spark for print on demand)

Differences between the Windows and Mac versions of Scrivener

In the Literature and Latte forums, the company outlined in detail the differences between the Windows and Mac versions of Scrivener. Read the full list of differences here: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=16056

Scrivener files are cross-platform compatible, which means they open on both Mac and PC. If you have a PC, you can compile from your friend’s Mac. Read more: http://scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb/features-and-usage/cross-platform-compatibility


Follow the above groundbreaking talk with Q&A, and then break out into small groups and practice compiling ebooks. Advise authors to use a book they’re currently working on (even if incomplete!) as practice; otherwise, create a new file and use dummy content or a public domain book they can find online. Learn by doing, and work in pairs! Google is your friend 🙂


One final note: a common question at the workshop I ran on 9/20/15 was about putting images as section breaks. The answer is that yes, you can do this, but it’s complicated. Garrett Robinson has a detailed 5 part tutorial which includes a primer on using images as custom metadata in Scrivener.


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