Best use of styles

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Writemood
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Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:44 pm Post

I'm using the current Beta of Scrivener 3 for Windows. I'm not sure if this is the best place for my post. I'm posting this in Using Scrivener, because the post is not Windows-specific. Anyway, I'm wondering whether my current usage of styles is wise, or whether I may have hosed myself.

Tl;dr: I've set up Scrivener 3 projects with a defined body text style. But, I'm concerned that I may have screwed myself in doing so.

Background: With a great many machinations, I have successfully brought many pages of several works-in-progress novels, created originally in Adobe FrameMaker, into Scrivener 3. In the Technical Writing world, of which I was a part, FM was far superior to Word and the like for handling large and complex documents. Besides, I hated using Word. :-)

But, FM is not exactly a fiction writer's tool for creative liberation. I found Scrivener 1 for Winddows some years ago. Many features appealed to me, not least of which was its tremendous flexibility in structuring and re-structuring. It was just what I was looking for. I did my initial conversions of FM docs into Scrivener 1.

In the FM world, and for that matter, in the MS Word world too, it is good practice to use paragraph and character styles to achieve the desired formatting. A big no-no was/is to bypass styles by overriding individual blocks of text manually.

In bringing my work over to Scrivener 3, I figured the same wisdom would apply. Styles did not carry over from FM, so I went about setting them up in Scrivener 3. I ignored all styles except for body text and a paragraph style I used for inline notes to myself, similar to Scrivener's inline annotations.

So, my converted documents now consist of body text in Scrivener style "Body," inline notes in Scrivener style "kBody," and everything else (headings, titles, etc.) as Scrivener style "No Style."

But, then I revisited the tutorial and came upon this advisory from L&L:

"Tip: For body text, it’s generally best to use “No Style”. In Scrivener, unlike in many word processors, you should apply styles only to text that you want formatted differently from everything else. If you use styles for everything, even the main body text, then you will make it harder for Compile to override your formatting for different output requirements."

I'm not sure what to do now, if anything. Other than a few spot-tests, I haven't done much compiling. I realize the paradigm shift of using Scrivener versus traditional word processors, with Scrivener's separation of text-creation and text formatting. But, I hadn't reckoned on No Style being the preferred choice for body text.

(1) What would be the downside if I keep my current Scrivener setup, with styles Body, kBody, and No Style? I don't have a good sense of what would "make it harder for Compile to override your formatting" means in practical terms.

(2) If it does make sense for me change body text back to No Style, can I do that in bulk somehow, or would this be a manual effort?

I don't really want to undo all I've done to date concerning styles. But, if it makes more sense in the long run for me to do just that, I would rather do it now, with the documents in very rough wip states, than to have to do it later when I'm much farther along with writing.

Thank you for reading this lengthy dilemma, and thank you kindly for any advice and guidance,

Ken

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kewms
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Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:32 pm Post

The Compile command treats any Style as a "Preserve Formatting" command. The Compile command will not change a Style unless you explicitly redefine it.

Whether that's a problem depends on how extensively you want your formatting to change between the Scrivener editor and your output document. Some of the built-in Compile formats normalize the manuscript to conform to various "standards," and those won't give the expected result if the body text has a style applied.

Katherine
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Writemood
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Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:30 am Post

Thank you, Katherine.

I now understand the purpose of the "Tip" in the tutorial. But, I'm still unclear as to whether it's worth my effort to change body text back to No Style.

What are these "standards," and how might their lack in my compiled output mess me up? Is it that certain editors, or publishers, or ..., expect a certain formatting that Scrivener can't deliver upon compile unless I were to change the body text style to accommodate that publisher? And, then I would have to do the same for other editors/publishers who might have different standards?

If that's the case, it sounds like it may be worth my while to de-style my body text. It sounds, too, like I would have been better off defining styles for everything except body text, rather than the other way around.

Damn. The habit of using styles in my writings is ingrained. I like the clarity that it gives to the editor in font, font size, color, spacing, etc.

(1) If I de-style the body text, can I somehow retroactively apply my personally preferred body text formatting to all "No Style" paragraphs in existing documents?

(2) If so, I would imagine that it would apply that same formatting to everything formatted as No Style, including headings, titles, etc. Is this so?

(3) Is there an "en masse" way to change all instances of a defined paragraph style to No Style?

Thanks again.

Ken

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kewms
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Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:04 am Post

Writemood wrote:What are these "standards," and how might their lack in my compiled output mess me up? Is it that certain editors, or publishers, or ..., expect a certain formatting that Scrivener can't deliver upon compile unless I were to change the body text style to accommodate that publisher? And, then I would have to do the same for other editors/publishers who might have different standards?


Yes. Most publishers specify a required format for submissions. The whole point of Scrivener's Compile command is to allow you to write in whatever format you prefer, and then produce the output format each publisher requires without having to change the underlying manuscript. You can still do that if you've assigned a body style, but it adds an extra step: you have to explicitly tell the Compile command to reformat "Body Text" or whatever it's called.

If that's the case, it sounds like it may be worth my while to de-style my body text. It sounds, too, like I would have been better off defining styles for everything except body text, rather than the other way around.


Yes, that's what I would have recommended.

(1) If I de-style the body text, can I somehow retroactively apply my personally preferred body text formatting to all "No Style" paragraphs in existing documents?

(2) If so, I would imagine that it would apply that same formatting to everything formatted as No Style, including headings, titles, etc. Is this so?

(3) Is there an "en masse" way to change all instances of a defined paragraph style to No Style?


I use the Mac version, so some of the details may be different in Win Scrivener 3, but here's what I would do:

(2) Answering this one out of order because you should fix your headings first. The Scrivener-like way to do this would be to break your manuscript into sub-documents matching the outline structure, so that you don't have headings in the text at all. But if you *do* have them, go through and create and apply appropriate styles *first,* before you un-style the body text. That will protect your headings from being re-formatted in the next steps.

(1) Define your default formatting so that it matches your preferred body text. In the Mac version, you can select a paragraph and tell Scrivener to use that paragraph as your default. Test in a new document to make sure that "No Style" text looks the way you want.

(3) To de-style a paragraph, simply select it and choose No Style from the style menu. To de-style an entire document, use the Documents -> Convert -> Text to Default Formatting menu command, with the option to Remove All Styles. (But DON'T use this option if the document has one of the headings you protected up above.) You can also use the Edit -> Select menu to select all text with a given style.

Katherine
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Writemood
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Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:08 am Post

Thanks so much, Katherine. This helps greatly.

Between un-learning old habits, re-thinking styles, separating headings from text, and all of it, I am really testing the old dog/new tricks wisdom. I've got a ways to go. But, I am looking forward to arriving (having finished documents).

Thank you for taking the time to advise and to describe the steps.

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Silverdragon
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Mon Jun 15, 2020 4:16 am Post

Another technique for removing your body style:

Make a note of your current settings for your body style. Then, delete the style from the Styles list. The text that formerly had that style will retain its formatting, but if you put your cursor into it, the style will show as No Style. Now use the ability to set default formatting in the Editor preferences from your (formerly) styled text. New documents will have your preferred formatting by default, your current documents are still formatted as you prefer, and no other styled text has been touched; all your other styles are intact. You may recreate the body style from your notes if you have a use for it.

Hope this helps!
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Writemood
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Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:37 am Post

Brilliant, Silverdragon. Yes, that is helpful--both as technique to un-style, and as to understanding how Scrivener works. Thank you.

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Silverdragon
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Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:10 pm Post

You're welcome! But silly me, you don't need notes to re-create your body style. Just select a correctly-formatted paragraph and use the menu command Format->Style->New Style from Selection...

Sometimes (often!) I make things more complex than they need to be.
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Writemood
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Wed Jun 17, 2020 1:01 am Post

Silverdragon wrote:Sometimes (often!) I make things more complex than they need to be.

I'm there with you, Silverdragon. Witness my opening query, which could have been expressed in one-tenth the verbiage.

I'm guilty of over-complicating things in many ways. For example, I'm prompted for a new iPhone iOS update. Should I or shouldn't I? What are the downsides? Will it work efficiently on an older iPhone 6? Does it cause increased battery drainage like other updates in the past have? Will it break any apps? And so on.

So, after reading innumerable reviews and blog posts, I decide it's worth the gamble. I back up the current iPhone, more than once, stare at the update screen for minutes, summon the courage, and click Update with dread of hassle and doom that may lie ahead.

Upshot: The update takes 20 minutes, including the download. Done. Painless and startlingly straight-forward. And, it proves the maxim that one can be embarrassed even while completely alone.

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Silverdragon
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Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:06 pm Post

I get you. "Analysis paralysis", an old friend used to call it. :wink:

For me, I'll think of a way to do something with 20 steps when I could have done it more reliably in 2. Not that I don't get there with the 20 steps, but that's just 18 more opportunities to foul up... :D
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