Copy / Paste becomes a block of text. Help!

I’d like to post some of what I’m writing in Scrivener on my Movable Type blog. The problem is that when I copy/paste from Scrivener to MT, I don’t really get web-friendly paragraphs. Instead, I just get one big block of text. For example, let’s say the following three words are three separate paragraphs. It should look like this:




But when I copy/paste from Scrivener, it looks like this:


Is there any way to solve this problem without me having to reformat every time I want to post something on my blog?

There are two schools of thought on how paragraphs should be separated. In the semantic court, you have an empty line between paragraphs; in the format court you apply a visual space between paragraphs instead of actual carriage returns. The former is best for portability, the latter is better for page layout. Scrivener uses the latter, and so does your web browser. What is happening is you are copying format style paragraphs from a display mechanism (your browser) that shows empty space around them, to one that does not by default show space around the paragraphs.

There, with all of that out of the way, try this: In Scrivener, select the text you have just pasted from your blog, and press Cmd-R to reveal the Ruler. One of the drop-down menus in this ruler is called “Spacing,” and it handles all kinds of spacing from the amount of space between each line, to the amount of space between paragraphs. The two defaults will not help you out much, so select Other…. A sheet will come down with a lot of options. I recommend using Paragraph spacing after. Here you’ll want to experiment with what satisfies you visually. I like a minimal amount of space between paragraphs (about 6 points). Others like a full line (about 12 usually).

Once you get something set up the way you like it, you could save it as a Style using the Ruler drop-down on the far left, and if you want to use it everywhere, you can use the ruler provided in Scrivener’s Text Editing preferences to change the global default for new documents. Once you’ve got things set up that way, you can use the Cmd-Opt-Shift-V keyboard shortcut to paste text into Scrivener using the current (default) styles.

If, however, you want actual literal blank lines between each paragraph (if you were using MMD, this would be the case), then you’ll have to use a text editor like TextMate to insert them before moving them to Scrivener. Since Scrivener is really designed to work in the format philosophy and not the semantic philosophy, it is best suited for transfer between other applications that are of this type.

I just want to be able to copy from Scrivener and paste it into Movable Type without having to go back and add an extra return between every single paragraph.

Scrivener inserts extra space between paragraphs, right? When I copy/paste it into MT (or into this little text box for that matter) the space between paragraphs disappears.

I’m trying to solve this so I’ll be able to write using Scrivener, and then post portions into my blog.

When I want quick copies of Scrivener matter, I select the section and Print it to PDF. That gives an exact copy of the formatting in its pre-export condition. The result is a picture, not a text file, and I don’t know if you could use it in your blog. Probably not?

Hi, what AmberV is saying is that in actual fact, Scrivener doesn’t insert an extra space between paragraphs. The default paragraph style just makes it look like it does. The space is just a display thing - it is not a real space. Thus, when you past into MT, which doesn’t display such paragraph styles, it seems to disappear.

What you will need to do is go to Preferences and change the Text Editing style to one that suits you, with single spacing and no spacing between paragraphs. Then you will need to add your own carriage returns.


Ah. But there’s no way to roll the paragraph spacing into negative numbers, so I end up with a huge ugly double space between paragraphs in Scrivener if I do it that way.

Wow, I can’t believe it’s this hard to just copy FROM Scrivener into a web app. Nobody else is posting things they write with Scrivener in a blog? Or are they all reformatting?

Why do you need negative numbers? Go to Preferences, Text Editing. Click on Spacing, Other… You will see that paragraph spacing before is set to 8 points. You need to set it to zero points. This will only affect new text that you create, although you can use Documents > Convert Formatting to apply it to existing documents.

Really, though, this is something you just need to be aware of. For printed work it is not common to have spaces between paragraphs. If you are writing for a blog, you have to insert extra line spaces, exactly the same as you would have to in any other app.


I did that. By setting it to zero points, but still leaving the overall spacing at 1.5, the spaces between paragraphs are huge. I know, I can just set spacing at single-spaced. Maybe that’s what I’ll do if it’s the best option, though I’d rather not.

Scrivener is wonderful. I just wish there were an easy way to copy and paste things written in it to then use them in a web app without reformatting pages and pages of content.

Given that this is down to the different ways that the text engine for printing (used by Scriv) and HTML layout handle paragraph marking, it’s something you have to go with.
I haven’t tried this and don’t have time now, but is it possible to do a search and replace including paragraph marks in Scriv? If it is, write in Scriv in the normal way, then before you copy/paste, use Find/Replace single para returns with double para returns. Or is there a service somewhere that will do that? Undo afterwards to return to normal.


This is precisely why I recommend a plain text editing application for this task. It is a simple matter to convert all paragraphs at once. Many even have such capabilities built right into them. I also would not be at all surprised if there is a service or utility for adjusting the clipboard or pasting between applications. You might want to check DEVON Technologies. I believe they have a free service package for filtering text in various ways.

As an aside, if you are going to be writing for blogs, or any other format that requires double carriage returns, it really shouldn’t be a problem to just type it that way in Scrivener. Since I use MMD, this is how I must format all of my paragraphs, and with a 0 point space between them, the result is not undesirable to my eyes. Then you can simply copy and paste directly into the target application.

I found my answer, though it involves an extra step.

The solution is:

  1. export to HTML
  2. open that HTML file in Safari
  3. copy the text
  4. paste it into Movable Type.

I’d rather just copy the page in scrivener and paste it into Movable Type, but this gets the job done.

I have written a little menu Service which takes the selected text and converts it from single-return paragraphs to double-return paragraphs. I have tested it with various kinds of carriage returns (such as old style Mac and new UNIX style), and it works fine for me. It isn’t at all robust, so don’t use it on anything exceptionally valuable. If the program has an undo stack, it should be okay.

To install, simply unzip the file and drop the contents into your Library/Services folder. You may or may not have to restart the application you wish to run it in.

Oh yes, one other important note: Do not run this in Scrivener if you have links, annotations, styles, or anything else like that; it will obliterate it all because I’m not sure how to get rich text and manipulate it. Given that you are pasting into a blog though, I’m assuming this will not be an issue.
ExpandParagraphs.service.tar.gz (9.08 KB)