Compile to Word and Word templates

I have an issue where if I compile a draft to Word format, it puts the text into a document which doesn’t follow my standard template in Word. The styles are all different.

Indeed, the document created has no ‘normal’ style at all. Which is a bit bizarre.

This is creating a bit of a headache for me, I was wondering if anyone can shed light on why this is happening, or how Scrivener decides what Word template styles it should use. I expected it to create a Word document that followed whatever styles I had set up as ‘normal’ in Word. But it seems to have its own ideas!

Scrivener has no knowledge of Word templates. Indeed, Scrivener for Mac doesn’t even know whether Word is installed on your system, much less what the template might look like.

Thus, the formatting generated by Scrivener will depend entirely on your Scrivener editor and compile settings.

If you need to assign Word styles, the best bet is to use Word’s “Find by Formatting” feature and apply the styles you want from there.


That doesn’t help me much …

I recently posted in

a kind of mini-tutorial on how I deal with this same question, but using Nisus Writer Pro, rather than Word, which I haven’t used since v. 5.1a became deprecated. It consists of the .scriv project and the .rtf document that results from the workflow described.

Obviously, Word and NWP have different features and aspects, but I’m sure the principles of the workflow could be followed using Word. In fact, in another thread, someone posted asking for advice on Scrivener–>Mellel workflow, so I had a quick look at how it could be done in Mellel—which doesn’t use a stylesheet library as far as I can tell—but in Mellel the workflow was in some ways even easier than in NWP, so he is now following it up.

So, in the hope that that will help you …

Mr X

Thanks Mr X - I’ll take a look at that in depth.

In the meantime, I’ve found a quick fix that might help others.

Essentially, the problem was twofold:

  1. I don’t understand how to use Word’s stylesheets properly
  2. Compiles from Scriv were opening in Word with an unfamiliar stylesheet quick view (the ribbon in the menu bar) and I couldn’t work out why or how to fix it. (It was also late at night …)

On my version of Word (2011, Mac) there’s a small double ‘A’ icon, lilac and blue, to the right of the ribbon. This allows you to choose which ‘quick styles’ are displayed. I used this to restore to a version of the ribbon which included the styles I needed - such as ‘normal’.

Having discovered that, I’m now able to create my own quick set (I’m calling mine ‘fiction’) - so in future I can compile, switch to the fiction stylesheet and format Word efficiently.

I’ve also found a resource that helps to streamline this process significantly. The details are here: … tyle-pt-1/

There are three shortish posts - you’ll need to go through them all. Essentially, what you do is add some distinctive text to your chapter headings before compiling - such a ‘~#~’

So, your chapter headings come out looking like: ‘~#~Chapter One: The Beginning’

You then do an advanced find and replace in Word. You find ~#~ and change all paras with that text into a specific style - such as heading 1. That will not only auto format all your chapter headings, it will also create a document map so you can easily navigate your huge file. (In Word for Mac: View - Sidebar - Document Map Pane).

I think that map of the doc will also help create a half-sensible table of contents.

Hope that helps anyone who runs into similar issues.

  1. The styling of your text is something you controlled at Compile time. So, the output looks like /that/.

  2. You can get your Normal template associated with your doc in a couple of ways.* For simple documents, I use the quick and dirty method of simply doing a Copy All from the generated word doc, creating a new Word doc from within Word and Pasting into the new Word doc. Voila! If you have something more complicated going on, you might not want to do this. In which case, you can go to Format > Styles and click on the Organizer… button. Here you can manage which templates’ styles are available in the document.

However, you should not expect the paragraphs in your compiled document to magically take on the named styles of your templates. That’s magical thinking!


  • Getting a third-party generated document that has no Normal template associated with it is not unique to Scriv. I have seen other software do the same thing. (It is unclear to me why such docs don’t have the Normal template specified in them (since everyone has one) or why Word doesn’t assign it by default for templateless docs.)

No, but it is possible to use Compile to add appropriate unique text patterns to use so you can quickly convert to appropriate styles within Word, as posted above. From there, it shouldn’t be too hard to automate those search/replaces with a macro, so you can easily import and convert to your preferred styles with the click of a button.

What he said.