At what stage do others transfer their manuscript to word?

Hello people
Glad to say I am on the home stretch of my PhD Thesis. I am still revising and rewriting but the full draft this there. Currently moved from the Madman through the Architect and am up to the Engineer stage of writing a manuscript – with only Janitor to go after this semester.

I am interested to know at what stage people compile their manuscripts and switch to a formatting program, and why.

Currently I am thinking when I finish this round of edits to my introduction, I’ll probably want to be converting it to word and syncing with a reference list and so on in preparation for final editing and copy-editing. (I can’t be bothered learning how to do zotero in scrivener at this late stage).

But I probably could do the whole thing from word now since I have a first draft. Yet I hesitate just in case the supervisor wants a major structural change which of course scrivener is much better at. I also like having the articles and pics I am currently working with in the research file on scriv.

Yet on the other hand I feel like I would probably be doing a lot of formatting at this stage if I was on word (thinking back to what I did for my masters thesis in pre-scriv days) – I would be inserting tables and figures, for example.

Just interested in hearing how other people do it, especially those writing in academic styles with references, footnotes, figures, captions etc.


As late as possible is my general advice. In my experience (and I cheerfully admit it is based only on my experience) the first few times I thought I only had a little “clean up” to go, my supervisors would spring something on me, or find something missing, or suggest something that was important, or I’d realise that in order to say Y here I had to discuss X there, or… you get the idea. I actually went back and forth a bit between Word and Scrivener (usually just sections, but it also including one complete draft compiled and then subsequently re-imported back into Scriv with supervisors comments). Every chapter with comments by a supervisor was imported into separate “commented drafts” folder for reference.

Right near the end I spent most of my time in Word with Scrivener open as constant companion for access to my notes, drafts, comments, etc as well as drafting new sections. These new bits I then cut and pasted into Word.

The process after compiling the near-complete almost-final draft was to go through and manually apply styles throughout the thesis (only took a couple of hours), insert tables and figures, make sure the table of contents was correct, then format my temp citations (I used EndNote) and check the reference list (that took a couple of days - there were a lot of errors in EndNote and minor bug that took a few days to identify). Lots of reference to both my professional style guide (APA Style) and my university’s thesis publication requirements.

While I don’t remember everything I did (in terms of process, I was making much of it up as I went along) I’m happy to review my notes and provide more detail if you want. Good luck!

Agreed. Wait until you’re absolutely sure that you’re ready to print the darn thing, then wait a little longer because you won’t be. Getting back from Word is a nightmare (says one who’s been there). Don’t go there until you are done. Not just done, but done done.

Put me under “as late as possible” as well. Trust me, once you’ve been using Scrivener for a while, having to spend time in Word will seem so horrible that you’ll go to great lengths to avoid it.

Which is not to say that you don’t have anything to do while you wait for your advisor’s next round of comments. If there are tables and figures that you want to lay out in Word, you can certainly create those so they’ll be ready to paste into the text once you bring it over. And this is the time to set up a template that precisely meets your university’s formatting requirements, maybe even have the library vet the results. (Mine was off by about the width of a Sharpie marker: they tested by holding a marked transparency over the page. Fortunately they took pity on me and let it slide.)

But editing? In Word? Shudder


As late as possible here, as well.

If the formatting required is minimal, I will do as much as possible as part of the compile options, and then do some tweaks in the Word version–but the Word version is still treated as a purely temporary file. I use it for submitting the work to other people, but it isn’t considered my main version when it comes time to working on it.

Track changes mean that I get stuck into the Word version, if the editors want to use that.

But given the flexibility of the Compile options (and the options in Scrivener itself), unless the final product needs to be heavily formatted, I’d say keep in Scriv as long as you can. Editing the content is just so much easier in Scriv.

Just IMO.

THanks everyone! Great to have this confirmed.

I am a bit of Word expert if I do say so myself, so I find it much easier to format and use styles and reference etc in Word than scrivener, especailly since I used it for my masters thesis using the long document settings. I also haven’t bothered to learn how to do temp ref citations in scrivener yet so really should do that, seems pretty easy, except that when I am writing I can’t be bothered going to look up the ref # for that citation etc. I recently switched from endnote to zotero, but I really haven’t been that diligent in either so its going to be a mess to fix up whatever way I go.

Thanks anyway!


If you are used to Word’s styles then here is a suggestion: in Scrivener, give each “style” equivalent (sorry, I don’t have Scriv open so can’t remember the proper term right now) a unique font by varying point size, type face, anything that makes it unique. Then, when you compile into Word, you can do a search and replace for each unique font combination and replace it with a Style. If I had done that, then I could have completed in 20 minutes a process that took a couple of hours. Although, having said that, a couple of hours to process an entire thesis isn’t too shabby.

I found using EndNote worked well with Scrivener. However, when I was writing, I often just wrote things like “Smith and Jones (2007???) [EndNote]” just to get the basic citation in and not lose the flow of an idea. Then, in those times when I struggled to put two coherent words together, I’d search for all occurrences of EndNote, track down the reference and cut & paste the EndNote citation into the text. After a while I was even able to manually many of the EndNote temporary references (see them often enough, you pick them up). Presumably you could do something similar with Zotero.

Also, using EndNote, it’s not necessary to have the reference number in the reference if you can put in something unique For example, for Alan Kay’s 1977 paper, “Personal Dynamic Media,” in which he has a drawing of a DynaBook, one of my keywords in EndNote is Dynabook. I never can remember the title, but I can remember it’s about the Dynabook, so, I can write:

… and the DynaBook concept of Kay {,1977, dynabook}…

In word, when I run Update Citations from the CWYW EndNote menu, it converts to

…and the DynaBook concept of Kay (1977)…

See for a more complete guide. (So, why doesn’t Thompson Reuters make this part of the manual?)


That’s an interesting idea. I hadn’t thought of that, probably because I don’t use Word enough to realize you could do that kind of search and replace.

I found the process of having to apply styles to things once in Word was a real pain in the butt when I had 13,000-word document, even though I started off by selecting everything that wasn’t a header and apply the default body style to it. It was all those block quotations! As it happens, they were differently formatted from Scrivener, so I could have done that search and replace. D’oh!

Once I have this Scrivener stuff transferred into Word what is it I search for, and I suppose select, to change the style?

I work with Word a bit but don’t endulge in the fancy stuff like Styles in larger documents so the whole process making these changes has me at loose ends.

Could someone give me a step by step example?



Oops, can not see images…

Quickly converting Scrivener’s non-stylesheet output to stylesheets in Word is quite easy, and I’d say beneficial, as a document with stylesheets in Word is going to be more useful than one that is just loosely formatted. At the very least, you can use the Navigation sidebar to get around in the headings. But that’s also how you can easily make a ToC, or change the style of the document with a few clicks.

So the way you do it in Scrivener is exactly how nom suggests. The important thing is consistency, not accuracy. In fact, being wildly inaccurate can sometimes be easier for you than close to accurate. What I mean by that is: if your section headings are bright green and your sub-section headings are bright red, you can very easily find them and it is obvious which is which. Not so much if one is 18pt the other is 16pt. That’s a bit of an exaggerated example, but the key thing to take from the example is that you don’t have to be making something that looks almost right, or even 99% right in Scrivener. The important thing is that all sub-sections are identical. If you use the Formatting compile option pane to set your headers for you, based on the binder titles, then this is all cake that you can have and eat (and you don’t have to stare at bright red text in your window).

In Word, all you need to do is find an example of something to convert to stylesheets, right-click on it, and go into the “Styles” section of the contextual menu. Don’t be distracted by all of the fancy graphics, you don’t want to actually choose a style yet, that will just change this one single spot. Instead, toward the bottom, use “Select All Text with Similar Formatting”. You may not be able to see it, but every single bit of text in the manuscript that looks like the thing you right-clicked on is now selected. Now click on a style in the ribbon that matches what you are trying to do. “Normal” for the main body text, “Heading 1” for the main sub-division like Part or Chapter, “Quotes” and so on. The average document is only going to have a handful of formatting variations, so this shouldn’t take too long. I agree with Nom, this is a twenty minute (if that) thing you can do to dramatically boost how useful your final output is to everyone down the line as well as yourself.

Note, I’m basing my instructions on Office 2010 for PC. I’m guessing Mac 2011 is similar, but I can’t say what the process would be for older versions of Office. I do know this has been possible for many years, so a little Google should be helpful if these instructions do not match.

Hey, how’d you figure all of that out…

I am just not familiar with styles so hit a bump in the learning thing.

Thank you very much for taking the time to nudge this old newbie along.


One does not merely figure out something in Microsoft Word, they slip and fall into a ditch and if they get lucky, hit their head on a useful feature. :slight_smile:

Pretty much describes how I approach MS Office (although using word processors heavily for over 25 years helps a bit too).

The beauty of styles for something like a thesis is that you can very easily match your output to university requirements (APA style in my department) and then modify when you realise that you forgot to indent the second-level heading and the third level should have been italics instead of bold and that table captions should be Wingdings instead of Times New Roman (or whatever obscure style-rule violation your supervisor/editor/proofreader finds for you).

Once you learn to use styles, you won’t go back, they are just too helpful.

Here is a way to work around OSX’s lack of built in styles when compiling out of Scrivener. I’m still working out the details so if anybody else uses this or something better, let me know!

  1. Organize as usual with folders, text enclosures, and so on.
  2. Be consistent about the paragraph styles you use. A good way to do this is to employ the “painted in” styles in the formatting toolbar (corrected to how you like to look at them, of course).
  3. Compile straight to HTML.
  4. Open the compiled file in OpenOffice or LibreOffice.

If you look at the source of the html file, you will see that OSX has changed all the paragraph styles. Some hierarchical styles do transfer over (H2, H3 for example) but others do not (blockquote). Instead, they are text body substyles such as “p.14” or “p.21” – this is the way such styles work in the underlying OSX rich text programs.

Once you know that “p.7” is what you meant to be a blockquote, you can use LibreOffice or OpenOffice’s Search and Replace / Search for Styles, to replace all “p.7” styles with “blockquote” styles.

Another twist is to save all your styles in a template or .ott file, open that, and insert the compiled html file as a section. Removing that section then makes it editable so you can replace “p.16” with “my_blockquote_style”

I presume much the same process works in Microsoft Word, but it has been years since I used Word.

And MultiMarkdown writers get to export to OpenOffice format with full stylesheets intact. Evil Laugh. Of course, we have to type like it’s 1983.

For serious work, MMD really does seem to be the way to go. I am amazed at what you did with the tutorial.

I just get tired or forget to type in the asterisks for italics and bold in MMD. Lazy!

User wickiup’s very intelligent post on the usefulness of Word styles in long documents was deleted through a moderator error. :blush:

The moderator apologizes profusely, and wishes to reassure both wickiup and the forum at large that the post itself was in no way problematic.

I knew I should have had a second cup of tea this morning.


We will have to demote your sword icon to a penknife. :stuck_out_tongue: