Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances


In this article I’m going to show you how you can compile your work with Scrivener for iOS and how to make your own compile appearances.

Scrivener for iOS has a couple of compile appearances built-in for the most common types of work that you will need to export.

To choose the appearance you want go to the compile dialog and then choose appearance.


Default will compile your work more or less as-is with the formats you changed or didn’t change in your documents.

Default Compile Appearance - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Default Compile Appearance

Novel Appearances

Then you have a bunch of appearances for novels or maybe also non-fiction formats with different fonts and chapter settings. Those are:

“Manuscript (Courier)”

Manuscript Courier Compile Appearance - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Manuscript Courier Compile Appearance

“Manuscript (Times)”

Manuscript Times Compile Appearance - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Manuscript Times Compile Appearance


Modern Compile Appearance - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Modern Compile Appearance

“Palatino Book”

Palatino Book Compile Appearance - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Palatino Book Compile Appearance


If you choose to write screenplays on Scrivener for iOS you can use the “Script” appearance to export it.

Screenplay Compile Appearance - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Screenplay Compile Appeaerance

OK, so, but what if you want to use other compile settings than the ones given or maybe change one of the existing ones just a little bit?

For that, Scrivener for iOS lets you create your own appearances. If you hit “Edit” you get a menu down below that lets you copy existing appearances or create new ones.

Let me show you how it works.

Changing existing appearances

To change an existing appearance choose the one you’d like to use and then press “copy”. Now you can choose between duplicating that appearance on your iPad, in your project or in your Dropbox. I’m going to choose “In Project” and I’m taken to the Appearance Editor.

Compile Appearance Editor - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Compile Appearance Editor

Now, this might look a little overwhelming at first, because it’s not a graphical interface like in the big Scrivener versions for MAC and Windows, but it’s actually very easy to use.

Every paragraph that starts with the # symbol is an explanation from Literature and Latte, what this compile appearance or a specific section of this appearance actually is going to do.

At the top you see the description of the appearance.

The black text shows what the app will actually change when you hit compile later.

It’s important to know that in the appearance editor, only the changes need to be specified, not ALL the compile settings. That means, for example, that if you only wanted to change the font and nothing else, it would be enough to use the part where it says “Default Font Family” and discard all the rest.

So, if you want to change this appearance, just look for the part that you would like to have compiled differently and change that. For example, change the font size from 12 point to 11 point and hit “Done”.

Change Font Size in Appearance Editor - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
Change Font Size in Appearance Editor

You now have created a duplicate compile appearance of a built-in setting but only changed that one part that you wanted to use differently.

Creating new compile appearances

But what if you want to build your own custom compile appearance from scratch or you want to add a setting that is not included in one of the built-in appearances.

When you’re in the appearances dialog hit Edit, and then choose the “plus” button on the lower right.

Now, Scrivener for iOS asks you for a title. This is the title of your custom compile appearance, NOT the title of your document.

So, basically you can enter all the formatting settings you need here in the editor. But since it would be hard to remember them, Scrivener provides you with a template that contains all the settings you can change.

Click on the question mark at the top and you get a help file that contains a more detailed explanation about Scrivener’s compile files. Also, this file – Scrivener calls them “.scomp” files – holds all the settings you could possibly use and in order to get them into your appearance editor you just need to choose “copy all” from the top right corner.

".scomp" File - Scrivener iOS: Easily Create Compile Appearances
“.scomp” File

If you go back to your appearance editor now you can paste them in easily.

What you can basically do now is you go through the settings and see which ones you need and which ones you don’t. It might need a bit getting used to until you get exactly the result you want, since you’re entering everything as plain text instead of choosing from a graphical user interface.

But the names of the settings are basically the same ones as in the big versions, so if you know what you want to change you should find it pretty quickly.

I like that Literature and Latte included this feature in the mobile version. Of course, a graphical dialog would still be a little easier to use, but maybe that will be included in one of their future updates. Until then we’ll have to wait and see.

If you want to learn more about Scrivener’s tools and functions, look for more articles and videos on and on my YouTube channel.

If you’re missing something, drop me a quick message and tell me what you’ve been looking for that I should include in future articles and videos.

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