An Easy Transition? Newbie needs an intervention

OK, this is what I have and what I want to do. I cannot understand why in the world I haven’t figured out how to do it yet! So I’m here at the forums, hunting, searching, on the prowl, anything to find the answer. I promise I won’t pounce.

I’m basically new to Scrivener. So I dutifully went though the tutorial and planned an easy transition. It has been anything but. I know it’s ‘me’, but I am looking for a little guidance here.

This is what I have: about half a novel worth of text (just text, single spaced) created in another program that I want to import to Scrivener so I can get ‘organised’ (as our British friends spell it) into Chapters etc. I have the file as a .doc (Word doc) or a RTF file. It’s not formatted as a ‘standard novel format’ but just single spaced text. As far as in Scriv I have a new project in the Standard Novel format. I did ‘simple duplicate’ to the Chapter and Scene to save the formatting for the chapters. BTW, what is the function of the Scene folders?..

What I want: I want to get each chapter into the proper chapter (basically just Ch 1, 2, 3, etc) which I can do with the ‘split text’ feature, BUT BUT!! and this is what I’m pulling my hair out about…>> but, when I do that and drag the split file into the Chapter folder, a new file is held in the chapter (which I understand is normal) but it doesn’t appear in the novel format. And I WOULD REALLY LIKE THIS. It’s formatted the exact way it was when I wrote it, single-spaced EYE SORES. And when I click on the ‘Chapter’ it just has that blank “wish I had some text on it look” with the Chapter <$W> thingy after it (&the subtitle beneath) Isn’t that suppose to update when I change the chapter someplace else?

I do not understand why this isn’t intuitive for me, perhaps it’s my left-handedness, or perhaps it’s that I drive on the right side of the road, but I cannot seem to get done what I want. It seems so simple, yet out of my hands to get done.

What I want is to import my text (which I already did) and divide it up into chapters, and do it the right way, and in each of the chapters, have the text in the STANDARD NOVEL FORMAT now, as I write. It’s much easier on my eyes. In another software called Storyist it’s like that, and I really really liked that, but want Scrivener’s powerful feature set so I’m trying to learn the ropes here.

Incidentally, it has occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to have the text in the standard novel format until I exported… but that seemed unreasonable if the Chapter folder was already formatted this way. I don’t know. But I do absolutely want to get this organized and hopefully, continue to write and edit in the format I choose.

Your assistance is kindly requested.

Peace, Betsy

Ok, first, breath!

Then, check out ‘Documents -> Convert -> Formatting to Default Text Style’.

I think that’ll help.

It may however remove a bit of formatting you want to keep, but if you’re sure you just want the default font and the default spaces, you can go ahead.

Hope this helps,


What Tanja said.

Also, I would suggest formatting the imported text all at once, then splitting it into different files.


Thank you for your suggestions. I did the document>convert>default style text and it did do something, but not a lot. The lines of text are not near 1.5 or double spaced. They appear very much the same, single spaced. And this is one thing I did want. The indentations/new paragraphs are larger (further in) but other than that, it doesn’t look much different. Not yet what I’m aiming at.

I did convert the whole document as suggested by tannie so I’d split the doc later. This and the smaller Chapter 1 appear to have formatted similarly, still single spaced.

I tried to convert again and nothing happened. Apparently it did all it was going to do.


If you go into ‘Preferences’ and then to ‘Text Editing’, does the sample look like how you want it?

If not, you can adjust settings there and repeat the previous suggestion.

If so… ehr… then I’m at a loss currently…


I checked the ‘Text Editing’ in the Preferences and the sample was what I was getting. I can change it there, and I did that to double spaced, but what the heck is the Novel Template for then? Isn’t that supposed to do it for me?? That’s why I selected the Standard Novel Format… So it would have that format. Sure I can manually change things, but templates are supposed to be there for that reason, so I don’t have to. That’s the part I don’t get.

“All text should be double-spaced and left-justified with a
ragged right margin. Paragraphs should be indented by about five
spaces and not separated by an additional blank line.”

That’s just a quote from the pdf novel format page right in my ‘project’ given me info on the Novel MS Format. This is what I was expecting it to look like. And what I wanted it to look like too.

I haven’t yet tried to convert yet again after changing to double-spaced in the preferences that you so kindly pointed out to me. But will do so. But I have a feeling it’ll be double-spaced all right, but not actually in the NOVEL FORMAT that I wanted, it’ll just be double-spaced text.

As I stated earlier, I really like this format for actually writing because of the amount of text on the screen (there’s less) and the double spacing is easier on the eyes.

I am also, reluctantly, importing my project into Storyist and am getting exactly what I wanted.

But my first choice is to get it done in Scriv - I’m sure it can be. But it hasn’t done it yet. (Why isn’t the template doing it’s formatting?)

I never use any template except the normal blank one.
That makes importing easy.
Drag your DOC or RTF file into the Binder.
At each chapter heading, place cursor and split (Cmd-K) the file.
Label the new chunks as you go along.
Then label the index cards with short synopses of each chapter.
If you don’t like the formatting, fix that in Preferences.
(See the Text Editing panel)
For final formatting, export to a word processor.
Standard text format for a novel is double-space, one inch margins, header.
Cover page shows title, your name and address.

Thanks for your post. As I’m new to Scrivener, I believe my expectations have been unjustly influenced by other writing software I use (or used). No wonder I was having a more difficult time than usual wrapping my brain around it! - I was approaching it in a different way.

Druid, after I read what I assume is a general workflow you follow in Scriv, I could see how I approached it differently, and wrongly which helped me see how this thing is supposed to work.

I’ll give that a go in Scriv, all the while I still have my work saved in other programs in case I want to go back.

All the posts here with my transition into Scrivener were very much appreciated. I learned a great deal - you all have been a great resource. Thank you.

All the best, Betsy

I checked out the Novel Manuscript template (I use a template I made myself) to see if I could help any further.

Firstly, yes, templates should make your life easier, however, if the template does not exactly do as you want, you can adjust it to suit your needs.

Also, I’m suspecting you’d want your text to look like that PDF.

An important thing to remember with Scrivener:

  • You write your stuff.
  • When done, you compile your draft and then you format.

This last process can be automated a lot.

I’ll go through this step by step as much as I can, so forgive me if I state something obvious, but it may help to understand the process.

Step 1.
You open a new project (or use your existing) and start typing away. When using the Novel Standard Manuscript Format, you’ll see that folder ‘CHAPTER’ which has one file ‘scene’ in it.
When you start, it helps to duplicate this (right click in binder, choose duplicate).

You can change the ‘CHAPTER’ in the binder to anything you want. Perhaps you already have names for your chapters, and it will be easier for you to change it into those names (don’t forget to change the subtitle along with it :wink: )

Then you write.

Every chapter consists of scenes. The Novel Standard template already has a ‘scene’ file in it. You can use this or just create a new file. To create a new scene (or text-snippet) just select the chapter in the binder and click that + on the bottomleft. You can then type the title of your scene, or just a word or two to help you remember which part it is.

Step 2.
Let’s pretend you have written your novel and it’s absolutely brilliant :wink:
You ended up with something like this in the binder:

Step 3.
Compile! Go to ‘File -> Compile Manuscript’. The defaults should work, if you check ‘Formatting’ the text should look like what you want.
If you check ‘Text Options’ you’ll see that the scene will get separated by a #
At the header-part, bottom right, you’ll want to change ‘surname’ into your own name.
You can choose to export to a Microsoft Word document and check that. You can also create a pdf-preview, just to check (and you won’t be saving yet another file on your harddrive)
To create a preview, simply click ‘print’. You’ll then get a new print window.
On the bottom left, click the button ‘PDF’ and select ‘Open PDF in preview’.

Preview will pop open with your Novel Manuscript.

Does that look like the document you want for your novel?

Remember that the font you type in on screen doesn’t necessarily have to be the same font you send your manuscript out in. Scrivener was designed to help you write first, format later (in another program if necessary)

I hope this information helps you understand how Scrivener works. Play around with it a bit, using a copy of previous work, or start out fresh, so you can get the hang of it.
Let us know any questions or worries you still have, I’m sure we can help :slight_smile:

-who should have written this many words for her Nanowrimo-novel, but faaaaaails

On a side note you can set up a “Blank” SCR file. Set all the preferences you want the way you want and set up the typography preferences exactly to your liking, set the full screen settings, etc.

Then you can save it as a template and that way you can have your own custom templates that fit your workflow without having to adapt your workflow to someone else’s.

Then you can have templates to fit all forms and different types of writing.

Tannie, thank you for your post! You really walked through the steps in a clear and informative way, and I appreciate all the work you did. I think you all are going to get me acclimated to Scrivener yet! I’m making a copy of this thread for when I sit down tonight and open my project. It all helps. :slight_smile:

Wock, I really liked the suggestion of making a template that I like (for this type of writing and different ones for others). I believe that is the best approach ultimately for this writer. Everyone is different, but how the text appears on the screen (including size/margins/spacing) while I compose has become very important to me during the process. And I like that idea.

I do have my project now in Scrivener, in a blank project, divided into chapters AND I have a short synopsis on the notecards for each. I changed the text appearance in preferences so it is ‘OK’ but not exactly as I would want. If I make a new template can I use it in this project? … What I’ll do is see what I can find as I play around with creating a template in Scrivener and see if I can apply it to this open project.

Thanks one and all. You’re helping my feet find their footing in Scrivener.

My thanks, Betsy