Fiction and Writing

How To Format A Pretty Ebook Using Scrivener.



Formatting books can be so intimidating, and it’s something that I complain about (I find it boring!). It doesn’t have to be difficult though. Scrivener makes things nice and easy for you.

This is my nice easy guide to producing pretty ebooks. Please note that I’ve tweaked my Scrivener quite a bit so it will look different to yours. That will not affect this guide. All the key bits are still where they should be.

What you’ll need:

A copy of Scrivener (my version is Windows so may look a little different to yours if you’re using a mac).

A word doc copy of your manuscript – You can skip a couple of steps if you have it ready to go in Scrivener.

I’ll be using a couple of different projects for this each in different stages, just to make my life a little easier. 🙂

Step one.

Open up your word doc, and start a new Scrivener project. A blank project is probably easiest, but you can use the novel template if you prefer.

How to format an ebook in scrivener open new scrivener project


Step two. 

Make your title page, copyright page, and if you’re using one, a dedication. Make each one a new document (not folder, folders make life more difficult!)

Format ebook using scrivener copyright page

Then copy your Word doc in its entirety. Then paste it into the little text window you have open in Scrivener.

It’ll look like this:

format ebook in scrivener paste word document

Step three.

Fix up your formatting. The font in that particular project is all over the place, and Word has a peculiar habit of pasting things in 1.5x line spacing for me. It’ll be easier to get all of that tidy now before you break it into chapters.


Format ebook using scrivener

Personally I like a 0.5inch indent on the first line. You can set it to your preference, however an indent and no paragraph break is the standard format.

Format ebook using scrivener line spacing

Step Four.

This is where you break the document down into chapters. This is also where you decide if you want fancy chapter headers and scene breaks, or nice simple ones.

We’ll start with how to break it into chapters. Scroll down and highlight your first chapter title. Click document, then split, then with selection as title.

format ebook using scrivener split into chapters

Now if you want fancy chapter headers and scene breaks, you’ll need some pretty little images to use for those. If you want clean and simple, then skip to step four part b.

It’s easy to make chapter headers, I use Pixlr. It’s an easy in browser photo manipulator do-hickey. The key is to make the images small pngs on a transparent background.

This is the one I’ve created for my Ink Born series.

Formating ebook in scrivener urban fantasy chapter header

All that is is two lines, one drawn with a normal pencil, the one below it with a sketchy pencil. It took me two minutes to make. I saved it as a png on a transparent background, eh voila.

This is the Hidden Alchemy chapter header.

formatting ebook using scrivener urban fantasy chapter header

And this is the Hidden Alchemy scene break.

formatting ebook using scrivener urban fantasy chapter header

As you can see, they’re very simple, quick and easy to make. You can get fancier if you’re so inclined. The key is to keep the file size small and the image simple enough to look clean and clear at smaller sizes.

Now that you’ve made your image you need to insert it.

Click edit, then insert, then image from file.

Format ebook insert chapter header image urban fantasy

I’ll throw in the Hidden Alchemy chapter header so you can see.

format ebook in scrivener chapter header urban fantasy

Now continue down and go through this process until you’ve split the entire document into chapters and inserted your chapter headers. Insert your scene images using the same process as the chapter headers.

Step Four B

If you want to have simple chapter headers and scene breaks then I’ll assume you have *** or something similar for your scene breaks. That’s great, leave them in place.

Your next step is to split the document at every chapter header. Remove the chapter title of each new chapter before you move on, so that each chapter starts with a small blank space (I like two line breaks) and then the chapter text.

format ebook using scrivener urban fantasy

Step Five.

Now you have a project which has been completely split into all of its chapters. If you’re using them then all of your chapter headers are in place. If you’re not then there’s a nice blank space at the top of each chapter.

I’d recommend adding one last document as your end note. This is where you put links to your other books, ask readers nicely to leave a review, and give them a link to your newsletter.

Your project should look something like this:

how format ebook using scrivener urban fantasy

Step Six.

Now you insert your cover! I click on research and throw my cover in there.

Click file, then import file. Import your cover image.


It’ll look like this when it’s imported.


Step Seven

This is where you compile this into an actual ebook!

Click file, then compile. If you’re on Windows for some reason it’ll make the list compacted. You’ll need to click the little blue arrow to expand it.

format ebook using scrivener compile urban fantasy

Once you’ve expanded it out you’ll get something that looks like this.

Format ebook using scrivener how to compile urban fantasy

In that compile for box click the click down menu and put it as ePub. ePubs come up smaller and are therefore better to upload to Amazon.

To check your file you’ll need something to read ePubs, I use Adobe Digital Editions (it’s free). I’ll explain how to make .mobis in a second.

First things first, alt-click on the Pg. break before.

Now, if you’re using pretty chapter headers, alt-click the As-is. If you’re not, leave that unclicked and follow this next step.

(Skip this if you’re using pretty headers).

Click on formatting then click on the level 1+ (at the bottom of the three options).

Then click on the little window below it, highlight the title, and set it up as you like it. I personally like to have it bolded, underlined, and centred. You do what you feel looks best.

Simple header ebook formatting using scrivener

If you want to change the title font and size, click the blue italic A next to the Bold button. Personally I set my font size as 14.


Now that your chapters are set up, you can set up your cover. 

Click on cover, click the drop down list, and then choose your cover image.


Now you’re all set to hit that compile button and look at your pretty ePub file!

If you’re making a .mobi then the very first time you do it, you’ll need one extra little step (once you’ve done this you can just choose .mobi from the dropdown list).

Click .mobi instead of .ePub from the dropdown list at the bottom. Then click kindlegen which’ll pop up on the left.

Click the little blue link that has an Amazon address. Download kindlegen. Then you’re all good to make .mobis!



To check the file is as you want it to be, double click on it in whatever folder you saved it in. If it’s an ePub that should open Adoble Digital Additions – for some reason that shows everything as left-aligned when I preview it, despite it coming up as centre-aligned when published on Amazon. Something to be aware of.

If it’s a .mobi then it’ll open in your Kindle app. If you don’t have one on your laptop I recommend downloading one.

Then that’s it. You’re all done! You have just made a pretty eBook file using Scrivener.

If you found this guide useful consider heading over to Amazon and checking out my Urban Fantasy books. 

buy awesome urban fantasy




29 thoughts on “How To Format A Pretty Ebook Using Scrivener.

  1. An excellent guide, Holly, thank you. So far, I’ve outsourced all my formatting, but it’s costing a pretty penny so I’ve been looking into doing it myself. I know that ‘behind’ the visible text in a Kindle ebook there’s a load of html, and it was the idea of coding all of that which had put me off in the past. Does Scrivener automatically enter the code into the outputted file?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As far as I’m aware. All of my books have gone through the steps I outlined here and produced the ebooks you can see on Amazon. I believe there’s some really refined things you can only do with html, but I haven’t really dug into it to be honest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Holly. You’re very helpful! Well, I’m reading Infernal Ties at the moment on my Kindle and it all looks great to me, so these simple steps are clearly all you need. I realize I’ve been throwing money away on paying someone to do this for me!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As I’m sure you realised I used the gap at the top rather than the fancy header for that series – it gives you an idea of how that looks 🙂 I know some formatters can do jiggerypokery with html but I have no idea what difference it really makes!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is exactly the info I need. Excellent instructions. I should be self-publishing my debut novel in August, and I was just playing with Scrivener tonight trying to figure this out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much! I just wasted my morning trying to add pictures to my chapter starts and page breaks using Scrivener’s code in compile, only to realize that option isn’t functional in the Windows version. With your guide, and link to Pixlr, I’ve managed to manually add the images instead, and it looks great!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.