Autoformat based on markup

I use a variety of plain text editors to feed content into Scrivener— Alphasmart, SimpleNote to name a few. Since I cannot do any formatting in these plain text editors, I was hoping to find a way to provide some markup while I am creating content with these text editors ( say to prefix a word with some markup, like //i for italics,) and then, when I import the content into Scrivener, have Scrivener automatically format any word prefixed with //i as italics. Is this possible?

There is nothing like that, no. The closest thing would be MultiMarkdown, which can be a simple way of adding formatting to a plain-text document, like italics and bold. However this is a somewhat “all in” side of Scrivener if you choose to use it. Scrivener does facilitate a little MMD syntax in terms of generating it during compile, but it doesn’t ever attempt to parse MMD code at the document level.

There is one exception to all of that which you might find useful. MultiMarkdown has a way of setting up title headers according to depth. Just put a ‘#’ mark with a space after it and then type in the title. It has to be in a line all by itself, with a clear double-space around it. To make a second-level header, just use two, like so: “## Some Chapter”, and for thirds, “### Some Scene”. All of these need to be on their own line like that.

Now when you import stuff off the AlphaSmart, instead of doing so straight into Scrivener, use a text editor and save that file. Then in your project, use File/Import/MultiMarkdown file.... Scrivener will read these hash-mark lines and convert them to binder structure, splitting off all of the content into the following sections. So everything in between one scene heading and the next scene heading will be placed into the first scene heading file. That probably sounds more confusing that it really is in practice.

That requires no MultiMarkdown save but for the hash marks. So anyone can use that trick to write plain-text files and convert them to binder structure.

Another thing you could consider doing, for simple documents mind you, is to learn a little MMD; enough to do italics and some headers; and then import that into a blank Scrivener project. Then immediately compile that using the MultiMarkdown -> RTF converter; it’s an option near the bottom of the list. This will convert all of your plain-text markings to a rich text document, which you can then import into Scrivener.

Bit of a round-about way of doing it, but that’s possible. It would probably be easier with another tool like TextMate which can make an RTF out of an MMD file without compiling and all that—but if you don’t already own that editor then it wouldn’t be worth it to buy it just for that, unless you need a good plain-text editor anyway.

Thanks a lot Amber-- your MultiMarkdown tip works perfectly.

This is my workflow now:

In my “straight-text” documents I mark Bold and Italics as follows:



Then I compile MMD to rtf using: File/Compile/Compile For: MultiMarkdown—>RTF

This creates a formatted document which is properly “bolded,” and italicized.

This works perfectly for me as I do formatting right at the end— then I am “out” of Scrivener and in Word for Mac 2011, where I do my final formatting. A great advantage of using MMD is that I am not bothered about formatting till the final draft-- and then it is automatically applied; and of course, I can use SimpleNote & my beloved AlphaSmart Neo, and still have my italics show up.

Yup! That’s what I like about it too. I never even think about what a document looks like until it is time to think about that sort of stuff, and then there are considerable tools that can brought to bear upon the matter.

Anyway, glad it works for you. I’ve been saying for a while that MMD can be used “casually” just as well as it can be a power tool, so glad you getting some benefit out of it for this purpose. I find it works fantastic with an AlphaSmart NEO. The font on those works good with the asterisks and hash marks.

I’ve found a very easy way to convert italics tagged as italic in Scrivener into regular italics, or underlines. This involves using (Microsoft) Word for Mac 2011. Might be useful for someone, so I am listing here:

Within Scrivener

  1. In Scrivener use My Word for italics; My Word for bold

  2. Compile to rtf in Scrievener

Switching to regular italics in Word for Mac 2011

Open the rtf in Word: Go To Format/Autoformat. Check off ALL options except:
A) Bold & Italic with real formatting
B) Preserve Styles.

Click: Ok/ Review Changes

Changing italics to underline in Word

In Word, you can also search/ replace formatting: for example, italics to underline

To switch Italics to underline:
In Word, select Edit/Find/Advanced Find & Replace

In the Find Tab
At the bottom of the tab is a ComboBox captioned “Format”. Click on it and select Font. In the window that come up, select “italic” from the “Font style” list box. Click OK and then on the Replace Tab

In the Replace Tab

Click on the “Replace With” box, to highlight it. Click on the “Format” ComboBox. In the Font-Style combo-box choose “Regular” or “Not Italic,” (this is to get rid of italics), and on the “Underline Style” Combo-box and choose a Line.

Then click on Replace