Scrivener: Compile vs Export

Scrivener has several options for getting your work out of Scrivener and into other formats.  However- there are key differences between compile and export.

Compile:  does what it’s name suggests – it takes all the little pieces that you’ve written and complies them into the one document. You can tweak what’s included and insert Chapter breaks, section breaks, choose to have notes and comments or no notes and comments – but basically it is creating one big long document.

Export:  Whilst Scrivener has a seamless interface and it looks like all your work is linked whilst you are working on it – actually each section is saved as separate file in the background. When you export – Scrivener is saving each individual file for you.

Here is the difference between Compile and Export on a short piece from my thesis:

Compile:

You select from within the compile option which sections to include (in this case I’ve chose ‘orienting concepts’ and unticked the other options).

Compile

Compile

All the smaller sub-sections are essentially ‘merged’ and compiled as one document. This is the preview once I’ve compiled it

all the sub-sections are merged

all the sub-sections are merged

Export: Export maintains the individuality of your files. You also need to select the files you want to export BEFORE going into the export option. The export option primarily is asking you where you want to save the files.

Chose your export files first as you can't select them once 'export' is open

Chose your export files first as you can’t select them once ‘export’ is open

This is what the exported ‘Orienting Concepts’ looks like:

Note the folder structure- each section is maintained individually

Note the folder structure- each section is maintained individually

I think it is good practice to regularly take your thesis or any other work out of Scrivener and save elsewhere – cloud storage or usb stick or external hard-drive and do so in a more commonly accessible format. Whether you compile or export depends on how you might work on your document if you couldn’t access Scrivener for a while.

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About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at thequalitativeresearcher.net
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One Response to Scrivener: Compile vs Export

  1. Pingback: Scrivener: Printing Your Manuscript | Writers in the Grove

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