I have written mainly novels in Scrivener, and am now thinking of writing a small non-fiction work (which I will self publish).

When writing a novel, you just keep typing til you reach the end, but non-fiction books have sections. The traditional method is to have space when a new section starts:

end of section 1

Section 2

blah blah blah

The problem is that in ebook formats, extra spaces (paragraph breaks) are not encouraged, as they might not display correctly. Smashwords will reject you, and so will Amazon if you go for KDP select. This is because these extra spaces don't always show up correctly on e-readers.

But if I don't use a spaces, the whole thing will look munched up, which doesn't matter in fiction, but may in non fiction.

So the question is, how do I get around this? I see two ways:

  1. In Scrivener, each "page" starts with some space(with page I mean the page/folder you create in the manuscript). So for each section have a separate page. The problem with this is, some sections may only be a small paragraph, and I may end up with hundreds of pages.

  2. Just go ahead and use space (by pressing enter). Avoid Smashwords and KDP select. This may not be that big a deal, as Amazon allows extra space if you don't choose KDP select, and other retailers like Apple/Kobo etc don't mind either. Of course, then I will miss out on some platforms.

Is there a better way to do this?

3 Answers 3


Our Scrivener guru hasn't answered yet, so let me give you general advice (I do not know where to set these things in Scrivener).

With "spaces" I guess you mean new lines. A new line is generally not a good method to format your manuscript, no matter if it is an ebook or a paper book.

Normally your word processor (in your case Scrivener) has options to tell how much "space" (I do not mean new lines here) is attached to a section header (above and below that header). This info should then be converted to the appropriate settings of the ebook format you use (epub, mobi).

This extra space is normally automatically added to header formats. If you are not doing it already, then format your section headers as "headers" and not as "normal text" with bigger font and bold.

If this is for some reason not possible, you can still use non-white space to format your ebook. Like adding the three asterisks ("* * *") between sections or a horizontal line. That does not look nice below a section header, but maybe better than crunched text.

  • If you're obliquely referring to me, I can't answer because (a) I've never encountered this problem (b) I'd fix it by using InDesign. Feb 28, 2013 at 10:55
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    @Lauren: Obliquely? Me? I can negate that, because I've never encountered that adverb before ;) And why don't you answer: Use InDesign? Feb 28, 2013 at 12:12
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    Because the OP asked "with Scrivener," but if you think my suggestion is valid, then I shall make it. Feb 28, 2013 at 14:53
  • John, do you mean something like the "Header" formatting that Word offers? Cause I couldn't find anything similar in Scrivener. Feb 28, 2013 at 23:45
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    @ShantnuTiwari No, he's referring to Space Before a paragraph. It's under Format-->Text-->Spacing. Select your paragraph and make the Space Before 12 points or 24 points or whatever. Mar 1, 2013 at 2:28

As much as I adore Scrivener for writing, I wouldn't expect it to output in pristine, publishable format. It's a writing tool, not a layout program or even a word processor. I would necessarily expect to run my final content through a second program to format it for publishing.

If you have access to any kind of desktop layout program (like InDesign or Quark), you can use that to lay out the text to whatever specs the self-publisher requires. Text is fairly straightforward, so if you don't need pretty bells and whistles, you could even use Microsquish Word (if you're comfortable with wrangling it).


I realize I'm responding to an old question, but I just encountered this and the version of Scrivener I'm using (sorry, I'll have to check which that is) has a template for non-fiction. It recommends doing chapters as folders and subsections as pages. I don't know how well this works, as I've just started, but it is Scrivener's suggested method. It probably helps enforce using correct formatting ("header" rather than "bold").

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