How do I add a preface to my manuscript?

A common question for Scrivener is how to add a preface, prologue, or other "introductory" material into a manuscript without those items receiving a "Chapter" heading (which might cause the actual chapters to start at "Chapter Two" or some similar problem).

The first step is to create a section type that is distinct from the one you are using for your chapter headings. If you are unfamiliar with the way section types and section layouts work in Scrivener, it is recommended that you watch our video tutorial on the subject before diving in to these instructions.

  1. Go to Project ▸ Project Settings.
  2. Under "Section Types", add a new type by clicking the "+" button in the bottom left corner of the panel.
  3. Name the new section type “Preface” (or whatever you would like to call the text that precedes your chapters). Screenshot illustrating section type naming in Project Settings
  4. Close the Project Settings window, then locate the folder or text document in your Binder that contains your Preface text. Open the metadata pane in the inspector (the icon looks like a luggage tag), and select your newly created section type from the Section Types menu.

    Screenshot illustrating the section type menu in the inspector

Now you have told Scrivener that this text is distinct from your other chapters. Next, you'll want to assign a section layout to your Preface section type that instructs Scrivener to add a different heading to this text.

  1. Go to File ▸ Compile…. Make sure you have selected your compile format in the left hand menu (e.g. "Manuscript (Times)") and the output file format from the "Compile for:" menu (e.g. "Print").
  2. Click on the Assign Section Layouts… button at the bottom of the middle pane. Screenshot illustrating where to find the Assign Section Layouts button
  3. Select "Preface" from the Section Types menu on the left.
  4. Select the “Heading” Section Layout on the right.
  5. Click OK.
    Screenshot illustrating the assignment of a "Heading" section layout to the "Preface" section type

You have now told Scrivener that for the “Manuscript (Times)” format, you would like documents with the “Preface” section type to only to show the document title, not "Chapter #".

You can now compile the document. Keep in mind that you would need to repeat this last set of steps for each file format you want to compile to (for example, if you wanted to compile to ePub after you've compiled to Print, you would need to select ePub from the "Compile for:" menu, select Ebook from the Formats list, and then repeat the last five steps for this format as well).