How To Format A Perfect Novel: Part 6 (Collections)


All right. We’re ALMOST ready to take our first crack at compiling your novel.


Before we do that, though, we’re going to take a very quick action that will greatly simplify the compile process for us. We’re going to arrange our book into “collections.”

“Collections” are like folders, except they’re master folders that can hold any arrangement you want of documents from your binder.

The reason we’re using collections is that when compiling, you can filter your Contents to include only documents from a certain collection. This will save us from having to individually select each item we want to include every time we want to compile.

To create a collection, check the top left of your Scrivener window:

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First, click on that folder labeled “Collections.” That will cause the collections to appear below you, above the Binder. Then, click on the “+” sign next to the “Collections” bar (shown in the picture). That will create a new collection.

Here’s the collections we’ll need:


(“PB” above stands for PaperBack).

As an example of all of the above, my collections look like this:

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Now, we need to populate these collections. First, grab the entire content of your actual book—(EXCLUDING the back matter and front matter). That goes into ALL collections. In the Binder, select it like so:

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Note that you need to select EVERYTHING, the folders and the text files as well. Don’t just select the folders without explicitly selecting the text files—you can accidentally omit whole chapters from your book.

Now drag your selection to EACH collection except “PB BACK MATTER.” This is the actual body of your book. It belongs in each collection.

Here’s what one of your collections should look like when you’ve done this:

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 9.47.07 AM

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Now your collections have the body of your book. But what about the rest of it?


Well, as you can probably tell by the way we named the collections, your paperback’s back matter is stored in a separate collection. Let’s start with that. For a refresher, your paperback’s back matter folder looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 10.04.43 AM

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Select your back matter files as shown in the image above (DO NOT select the folder!), and then drag them to the “PB BACK MATTER” collection you’ve already created. It should look like this when you’re done:

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 10.34.03 AM

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Your paperback back matter is now ready to go. But what about your ebooks?


Your ebooks are similarly simple. You’ve already got back matter folders for each format: Amazon, Kobo, Nook and Smashwords. Simply select those files, like so:

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 10.35.43 AM

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And drag them to the appropriate collection. Your “Amazon” back matter goes into your collection, “[TITLE] KINDLE” collection. “Kobo” back matter goes into the “[TITLE] KOBO” collection. As an example, here’s what the bottom of your Amazon collection should look like when you’re done.

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 10.37.23 AM

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Once you’ve done this for all your ebook formats, you’re finally ready to start compiling for real.


Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at


Thank you for sharing this. I've been doing this manually for way too long and this will speed things up considerably! Stu :)

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