Auto-numbered lists don't play with Nisus

I can’t remember whether I’ve noticed this before, but I’ve noticed it now.

If I set up an auto-numbered list and export it – either by compiling a draft or simply copying-and-pasting – the auto-numbers (or bullets) don’t make it into Nisus. They get replaced with a sort of hopeless highlighted question mark.

Any ideas, anyone? I mean, Nisus is supposed to be using RTF.

(Everything is more or less fine, apart from the usual screwed-up tabs, in e.g. Pages, Mail, TextEdit, DevonThink. So perhaps it’s an NWP bug.)

Scrivener uses the bulleted and numbered lists provided by Apple’s own text engine - and they don’t make it into Word either. Nisus uses its own RTF importers, so my guess is that Apple does something pretty horrible in the way it stores these lists in RTF.

Try creating a numbered list in TextEdit and saving it as RTF, then open that in Nisus. If that has the same problem (which I would imagine it will), then it might be a good idea to post on the Nisus forum, or ask them directly, if there is any way they can support numbered lists created by the OS X text system. Martin and Nisus are very nice - I can’t even count the number Martin W. has helped me out with trick text system coding problems.

All the best,

I was having this problem and found that if I opened my Scrivener-produced RTF document in Pages and then exported to DOC format, it would work fine in Word–and I’m guessing it would probably work in Nisus, too. Not that this helps if you don’t have Pages, but if you do happen to have a copy of iWork, give it a try.

I haven’t personal experience of this, but I’ve found that a workaround for similar RTF-coding problems is to open the document in NeoOffice and resave it or save it under another filename, whether as .DOC or .RTF and then open that in Nisus.

The advantage of NeoOffice, as opposed to TextEdit (or Pages I believe), is that it doesn’t screw up or eliminate any footnotes or annotations you may have to the same extent.


All these multiple round-trips are extra layers of potential confusion. Fortunately there’s only one thing I use numbered lists for, but if there were lots, I would have to change from Nisus. Because it’s a Nisus-specific bug, as far as I can see, and is indeed coming from the OS X text system (TextEdit causes it as well.)

It’s a bind. Mellel is locked into its own way of doing things. Pages has no “save as” RTF or DOC format (like Mellel). Nisus is pretty good but there’s the numbering bug and no ability to track changes/comments. NeoOffice and OpenOffice are, for me, slow and cumbersome and, I’m afraid, fugly. What’s left? Mariner Write?

All I want is somewhere I can export Scrivener RTF documents and stay with them through the publishing process. Damn it, only Word offers that. I may have to install the bloody thing after all. Ugh.

Do contact Nisus, though - as I say, they are very responsive (you probably know that already) and brilliant at getting things sorted out.

Don’t even start me on Pages, though. Grr. Beautiful app, but it’s poor RTF support is just rubbish; inexcusable, in fact. I have no idea why Apple choose to give such poor support (in their text system, too) for a format that has been standard and barely changed for years (the RTF 1.5 specs are now 11 years old!), and which is cross-platform and supports so many features or rich text (duh, rich text format). Okay, so MS wrote it, true. And I agree with Fletcher that it is far from perfect, and that a structured XML file format allowing for styles and all sorts would be so much more wonderful… But until one comes along that everybody is using, it seems nuts to ignore the most common format beyond .doc, and a format that can be opened by pretty much all versions of Word and other major word processors. Especially when Apple make it so difficult to get .pages documents into other programs other than Word (oh yes, they improved their .doc importer/exporter for Pages, but not for the rest of the text system). Given the number of e-mails I get from people trying to get AppleWorks documents in and out of Scrivener - because Apple never provided developers with importers/exporters for AppleWorks formats - I don’t hold out much hope for the Pages format, either. Oh well.

Er, I’ll end my off-topic rant now. :slight_smile:


Wait… how do you export/copy/whatever multilevel lists from Scrivener to Word? I’ve never gotten it to work right.


–Tom Geller

Unfortunately, lists don’t play well with Word or Nisus. The problem is at Apple’s end. Their RTF exporter has a bug in it whereby it exports the wrong level information when it comes to lists. This means that an RTF importer that works properly won’t recognise the list formatting characters - hence Word and Nisus import them badly, because Word and Nisus’s RTF import is correct.

I’ve hacked into it a bit for the next version so that flat lists now get exported okay, but multi-level lists are still a problem. The trouble is that hacking into the RTF stream is tricky, but writing my own RTF parser isn’t even a question. I’ll take another look, but I don’t know how much I can do.

All the best,

Thanks for the quick response. One idea: Export lists with embedded tabs. I know it’s cheating. But it’s easy, and at least the lists would look right when exported.


Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean - is that a tip for users or an idea for Scrivener? Scrivener can’t do that because actually, lists are special blocks within the text system - they are more than they look. I would definitely recommend users do that, though. Just set up a list style and use tabs and indenting, and option-8 to create bullets.

Hey, Keith. I meant it as an idea for Scrivener – sorry to hear it would be difficult or unwise to implement. Cheers,

I have fixed up the buggy RTF list tables so they at least work a bit better now, anyway. Testing a bit more shows that even multi-level tables import into Word/Nisus okay-ish (bullets intact, at least), but they’ll most likely still need some fixing up.

Fantastic! I’ll look forward to this in the next release. Cheers,

Keith you’re amazing…!

One thought until Keith’s and/or Martin’s fixes become available: Due to NWP’s interface the “?” lists are pretty easy to fix even if they’re scattered all about your document. If you are in NWP and a list looks incorrect, you can fix it right then and there. If necessary click on the “T” in the palette so that the Lists palette is visible (expand the palette if necessary by clicking on its disclosure triangle). Next, click on a line containing one of the “?” boxes, then click on the “1” in the Lists palette.

The only problem with this solution is you still have n styles for n lists. A cleaner fix would apply the above instructions to list 1, then fix list styles 2 - n by first clicking in each list, then choosing select-all from the “#” pop-up menu in the bottom toolbar, and then choosing “Combo List 1” from that same pop-up menu, so that all the lists get the style “Combo List 1”.

To fix every list in your document without even having to locate it, go into the Style Sheet view (expand the “List Styles” section if necessary using its disclosure triangle). For each list style which represents each imported list in your document: Click to select the list style, then click in sample list level in the middle of the page, and then click on the “1” in the Lists palette on the right.

(Even though NWP is generally great in terms of restyling text – use the menus evoked by the icons on the bottom toolbar to select all fragments of text with a certain formatting or style – each numbered list generated by the Cocoa Text System [at present at least] already gets its own style and Nisus doesn’t let you evoke “Select All” across multiple styles so you can only select lists one at a time at present.)

Sounds like this might be somewhat moot though with the next version of Scrivener…


I should just emphasis for the record that there is no problem with Nisus here; the bug is all Apple’s, in its RTF exporter.


Wow, this would be awesome. It’s probably the only thing holding me back from switching to Scrivener full time. Thanks!

This is great news–I’ve been grumbling about this for a while. Thanks, Keith.

Interestingly, Mellel (2.5) imports Scrivener’s RTF exports with bulleted lists just fine, preserving the original bullets exactly.

Mellel uses its own proprietary text engine, not Apple’s; Nisus uses a highly modified version of Apple’s text engine … that’s why you get different behaviour.


And the fact is, what counts is, what works – so far I have to stick with Mellel for now, although I bought Nisus first.