Building the Manuscript#

You can at any time build a manuscript, an outline of your notes, or any other type of document from the text in your project. All of this is handled by the Manuscript Build tool. You can activate it from the sidebar, the Tools menu, or by pressing F5.

New in version 2.1: This tool is new for version 2.1. A simpler tool was used for earlier versions. The simpler tool only allows you to define a single set of options for the build, but otherwise had much the same functionality.

The Manuscript Build Tool#


The Manuscript Build tool main window.#

The main window of the Manuscript Build tool contains a list of all the builds you have defined, a selection of settings, and a few buttons to generate preview, open the print dialog, or run the build to create a manuscript document.

Outline and Word Counts#


The Manuscript Build tool main window with the Outline visible.#

The Outline tab on the left lets you navigate the headings in the preview document. It will show up to scene level headings for novel documents, and level 2 headings for notes.

A collapsible panel of word and character counts are also available below the preview document. These are calculated from the text you have included in the document, and are more accurate counts than what’s available in the project tree since they are counted after formatting.

For a detailed description on how they are counted, see Word and Text Counts.

Build Settings#

Each build definition can be edited by opening it in the Manuscript Build Settings dialog, either by double-clicking or by selecting it and pressing the edit button in the toolbar.


You can keep the Manuscript Build Settings dialog open while testing the different options, and just hit the Apply button. You can test the result of your settings by pressing the Preview button in the main Manuscript Build window. When you’re happy with the result, you can close the settings.

Document Selection#


The Selections page of the Manuscript Build Settings dialog.#

The Selections page of the Manuscript Build Settings dialog allows you to fine tune which documents are included in the build. They are indicated by a green arrow icon in the last column. On the right you have some filter options for selecting content of a specific type, and a set of switches for which root folders to include.

You can override the result of these filters by marking one or more documents and selecting to explicitly include or exclude them by using the buttons below the tree view. The last button can be used to reset the override and return control to the filter settings.

In the figure, the green arrow icon and the blue pin icon indicates which documents are included, and the red forbidden icon indicates that a document is explicitly excluded.

Formatting Headings#


The Headings page of the Manuscript Build Settings dialog.#

The Headings page of the Manuscript Build Settings dialog allows you to set how the headings in your Novel Documents are formatted. By default, the title is just copied as-is, indicated by the {Title} format. You can change this to for instance add chapter numbers and scene numbers, or insert character names, like shown in the figure above.

Clicking the edit button next to a format will copy the formatting string into the edit box where it can be modified, and where a syntax highlighter will help indicate which parts are automatically generated by the build tool. The Insert button is a dropdown list of these formats, and selecting one will insert it at the position of the cursor.

Any text you add that isn’t highlighted in colours will remain in your formatted titles. {Title} will always be replaced by the text in the heading from your documents.

You can preview the result of these format strings by clicking Apply, and then clicking Preview in the Manuscript Build tool main window.

Scene Separators#

If you don’t want any titles for your scenes (or for your sections if you have them), you can leave the formatting boxes empty. If so, an empty paragraph will be inserted between the scenes or sections instead, resulting in a gap in the text. You can also switch on the Hide setting, which will ignore them completely. That is, there won’t even be an extra gap inserted.

Alternatively, if you want a separator text between them, like the common * * *, you can enter the desired separator text as the format. If the format is any piece of static text, it will always be treated as a separator.

Hard and Soft Scenes#

If you wish to distinguish between so-called soft and hard scene breaks, you can use the alternative scene heading format in your text. You can then give these headings a different formatting in the Headings settings.

See Headings for more info on how to format headings in your text.

Output Settings#

The Content, Format and Output pages of the Manuscript Build Settings dialog control a number of other settings for the output. Some of these only apply to specific output formats, which is indicated by the section headings on the settings pages.

Building Manuscript Documents#


The Manuscript Build dialog used for writing the actual manuscript documents.#

When you press the Build button on the Build Manuscript tool main window, a special file dialog opens up. This is where you pick your desired output format and where to write the file.

On the left side of the dialog is a list of all the available file formats, and on the right, a list of the documents which are included based on the build definition you selected. You can choose an output path, and set a base file name as well. The file extension will be added automatically.

To generate the manuscript document, press the Build button. A small progress bar will show the build progress, but for small projects it may pass very fast.

File Formats#

Currently, four document formats are supported.

Open Document Format

The Build tool can produce either an .odt file, or an .fodt file. The latter is just a flat version of the document format as a single XML file. Most rich text editors support the former, and only a few the latter.

novelWriter HTML

The HTML format writes a single .htm file with minimal style formatting. The HTML document is suitable for further processing by document conversion tools like Pandoc, for importing in word processors, or for printing from browser.

novelWriter Markup

This is simply a concatenation of the project documents selected by the filters into a .txt file. The documents are stacked together in the order they appear in the project tree, with comments, tags, etc. included if they are selected. This is a useful format for exporting the project for later import back into novelWriter.

Standard/Extended Markdown

The Markdown format comes in both Standard and Extended flavour. The only difference in terms of novelWriter functionality is the support for strike through text, which is not supported by the Standard flavour.

Additional Formats#

In addition to the above document formats, the novelWriter HTML and Markup formats can also be wrapped in a JSON file. These files will have a meta data entry and a body entry. For HTML, also the accompanying CSS styles used by the preview are included.

The text body is saved in a two-level list. The outer list contains one entry per document, in the order they appear in the project tree. Each document is then split up into a list as well, with one entry per paragraph it contains.

These files are mainly intended for scripted post-processing for those who want that option. A JSON file can be imported directly into a Python dict object or a PHP array, to mentions a few options.