Errors while compiling

My book project on scrivener does not want to compile to Word. Either Scrivener crashes when i try to compile it or I get error messages that the resulting files are corrupted when I attempt to open them in Word .

I’ve tried moving the text files to a new scrivener project (thinking that my copious notes in the project were causing the problem). I’ve tried compiling just part of the project, including tediously compiling each chapter separately. This kind of works. A few chapters will compile, if I compile them separately, but some will compile into corrupted Word docx files even so.

HELP. i’ve spent years working on this book project and need to format it so i can submit.

UPDATE: i tried compiling one of the chapters that compiled to a corrupt word file to the older version of word instead. the file opened in word, but two paragraphs of text now appear as a single black line that extends vertically for 30 pages…and the formatting is messed up on other paragraphs.

What version of Scrivener do you have?

What happens if you compile to RTF and open the resulting file in Word?


I have Scrivener

I will try compiling to RTF and opening that, but won’t i lose a lot of formatting? the project has lots of footnotes in it.

What version of Mac OS do you have?

Compiling to RTF is useful for troubleshooting purposes. RTF is Scrivener’s native format, so this approach uses Word’s format converter rather than ours.

No, you won’t lose formatting, provided that the program you use to open the RTF file supports footnotes. Word does, but TextEdit does not.


Was this text originally created in Scrivener, or imported from another format? The 30-page line of text suggests that there are some strange characters embedded in the text that Word doesn’t know how to handle.


Compiling to RTF didn’t really work. The compiled files opened in Word, but only included a portion of the actual document.

That is, i compiled chapters 5-10 of my project but when I opened the compiled file in Word, the end of chapter 5 and chapters 6-8 and part of chapter 9 had disappeared. the compiled file went straight from chapter five to chapter nine+, with a long vertical bar that extended for dozens of pages in place of the actual text of the chapters.

I’ll bet you’ve got some strange characters in there somewhere. Please do a partial compile with all chapters except Chapter 5. If that comes out okay, then compile just Chapter 5 and confirm that it fails.

If it does, then open up the project in Scrivener and look at the point in Chapter 5 where things get strange. Turn on Format -> Options -> Show Invisibles, and look for any unusual characters. Do the same at the spot in Chapter 9 where things get normal again.

If you don’t see anything, I’d still try cutting out a paragraph or two at the problem spot and compiling the rest.


Thank you Katherine. I ended up compiling each chapter individually and manually correcting the formatting errors. The one that seems to make the compile delete whole sections is actually not a deletion–it seems that there is something in the scrivener text that tells the RTF to insert a table into the text. Whole paragraphs are then formatted into a skinny, one column, dark colored table, with each cell having a single letter in it. It ends up looking like a long vertical line that takes up tens of pages.

i went to the scrivener text to see where things got weird but there is no formatting there that I can see which would explain it.

It would be great to know what is causing this error so I can avoid it in my workflow, whatever it is. To answer your question, I think I did compose this text in Scrivener (or on Scratchpad, and then cut and pasted). I may have cut and pasted an online citation, though.

Here’s a screenshot of the compiled RTF, with the beginning of the error in it. I hovered over it so you can see that it is a table of some kind.

Screenshot 2019-08-28 07.29.49.png

Here’s a screenshot of the Scrivener text that the RTF is compiled from, with the invisible formatting in view.