Showing or Hiding Chapter Titles in Scrivener Compiles

One of my favorite things about Scrivener is being able to have a folder for each chapter and a text for each scene. I love being able to drag and drop for easy reordering, and I especially love being able to identify which scene or chapter I’m looking for based on the title I gave it. For that to be useful, though, I have to give each one a title that completely gives away what happens in it. In my finished manuscript, I don’t want there to be chapter titles beyond “Chapter 1” and “Chapter 2”, so how do I hide my spoiler-filled titles when compiling?

Luckily, this is pretty easy once you know where to go. When you click on Compile, you’ll probably see something like this.

A test document in Scrivener 1, showing a minimized Compile window
Scrivener 1
A test document in Scrivener, showing a Compile window
Scrivener 3

Read on depending on your version!

Scrivener 1

Looks pretty simple. You can pick a format and a document type to save as. But if you click the blue downward-facing arrow, you get a lot more options. If you click over to the Formatting tab, you’ll see a lot more options. It can be difficult to figure out what the types listed mean, but luckily when you click on one in the list it will highlight an example of that type. Using this method, I can see that “Level 1+” is for my chapters and their titles, while “Level 2+” is for my scenes and their titles. From there, it’s easy to make sure the “title” box for both is unchecked.

A test document in Scrivener, showing a maximized Compile window open to the Formatting tab. Title is unchecked for Level 1+ and Level 2+.

Now when I compile, my finished manuscript will look like this:

A sample compiled manuscript, showing CHAPTER ONE on top and the text of Chapter One beneath

Instead of this:

A sample compiled manuscript, showing CHAPTER ONE on top, followed by a chapter title, a scene title, and then the text of Chapter One

Scrivener 3

In Scrivener 3, you should see a number of formats on the left side. You might have imported settings from Scrivener 1 if you upgraded like I did. Otherwise, you can choose one of the options and use it as is or edit it. You can also create a new one if you’d like. For the purposes of this article, I’ll be using the Manuscript (Times) format.

The Manuscript (Times) compile format in Scrivener 3, in its default form

If you click compile at this point, without making any changes, you’ll end up with something like the following.

A Scrivener compile result, showing just the text, no chapter heading at all

This is because I didn’t select anything from the Section Layouts. Luckily, the yellow warning box tells me exactly what I should do. Click Assign Section Layouts, and you’ll see that it’s defaulted to the “As-Is” layout (highlighted in gray at the bottom of the window). To use another one instead, just click on it so that it is highlighted in gray instead.

The Scrivener 3 Assign Section to Layout window

If you select the top option for both Heading and Section, you’ll end up with a compile result that shows Part One on the first page and Part Two on the second page. No text I entered will show at all.

This definitely isn’t the result I want, but it should demonstrate what the options do. The options for Heading deal with what shows up as folders. The options for Section deal with what shows up as text files. With the options I selected, both are shown as nothing more than a part number, with page breaks between them.

To actually get the result I want, I need to go back to the Compile window and select Chapter Heading for Heading and Section Text for Section. That gets me a result like this.

A Scrivener 3 compile result showing a chapter heading and section text

If you want to show what you named your chapters and/or sections, you can select a different set of options. After selecting one you like, you can even edit it on a more detailed level by clicking the pencil icon that appears in the right-hand corner of the layout under Section Layouts.

The pencil icon that shows when selecting a section layout in the compile window of Scrivener 3

After that, click the button in the popup that appears. You can also double click on the layout and click the button from that popup.

This should display a new window giving many new options. You can use the checkboxes to choose exactly what should and should not display. You can also edit the font and text of the chapter or part headings.

The Compile Format Designer window in Scrivener 3

Keep in mind that the Section Layouts on top controls all layouts, even the ones you’re not using. Focus on the checkboxes for the ones you care about. For me, this means Chapter Heading and Section Text, and, as you can see, those are the options in bold.

There are more options in this window as well, but that’s a post for another day!


I hope this helps you out if you were trying to figure out how to accomplish this. Otherwise, I hope it gave you an idea of something to try out if it would be helpful for you to organize things the way I do. The Scrivener compile options can be confusing, but they do allow you to accomplish quite a lot. Whether you want to show all chapter and section headings or none of them or something in between, I hope you’re able to accomplish the effect you’re going for with a minimal amount of headaches.

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