Export/import of structured documents as accessibility issue

This has been requested under the guise of exporting style mark up into Word. While that would be nice, the real issue is that while Scrivener’s real strength is constructing really complicated structured documents, there’s no way to export that structure into most other formats. It will create a flat table of contents for ePub/Mobi but it needs, in order of priority:

  • Export PDFs with section titles marked as Bookmarks and tables of contents being clickable
  • Export multilevel ToCs in ePub
  • Export ODT and/or docx files with section titles being marked with Heading styles
  • Import ODT and/or docx files with structure to allow for turn around jobs

I saw a lot of discussions out there about whether an individual’s needs for this are valid or not (e.g. what do publishers accept, etc.) But this is really an accessibility issue for both blind and dyslexic readers. I bought Scrivener to create documents in various formats for these constituencies but sadly, won’t be able to do it now. And because of the poor export, I won’t even be able to create drafts.

BTW: I know that one solution is to format section titles with specific fonts and do find/replace in Word. But that only really works occasionally for big projects. It would not be workable if I wanted to rexport, etc. The handling of structured documents in the latest versions of Word is fairly sophisticated, so I will have to continue using it until this is fixed. A pity, I was really looking forward to recommending Scrivener more widely as a structured document creator.

Sorry to hear you can’t find a use for Scrivener at the moment. That’s bound to happen, especially for a tool that was primarily designed as a drafting tool for the production of text rather than a publishing tool for the production of documents. Getting into things like complex PDF creation and advanced internal architectures typically only seen in desktop publishing and major word processing packages is one of those things Scrivener was not designed for. That’s fine, we can’t address everything, particularly when it comes to things not even within the scope of the original design (making end format documents). It means authors that for whatever reason need to author content inside of a desktop publishing environment are not going to find Scrivener very useful. There are however writers that need nothing like that and could just as easily write with Notepad.exe. We’re mainly just trying to make life better for those people, because who wants to write in Notepad. :slight_smile:

However on some of these points, if you like the concept of Scrivener and find yourself hampered by technical issues in the latter phases of your projects from having used it, give us another chance in the future. Most of the things in your list are things we are already working on, and in fact are coming close to completion. I can’t speak for PDF production on Windows—what we can do with PDF comes down to the library we use.

On this point however, I would say that is not true. You are correct in reference to word processor conventions, however there are good conventions for producing structured content without any specialised environments required. We even directly integrate one of them, MultiMarkdown, right into the compile process. If you need more than that, there more sophisticated systems that can be used, and for the most part Scrivener can handle just about anything along those lines.

@AmberV, I may come back to Scrivener for drafting long, complex, text-heavy texts. But that’s not the majority of what I do. I have some projects that it may be perfect for. I can then export into multimarkdown or even directly into epub. I definitely don’t regret my purchase.

But it sadly won’t fit into my daily text creation workflow that is focused on the creation of more image heavy documents - like manuals and guidebooks. (You may argue that a lot of people use it for that and print directly to PDF - but they are producing inaccessible PDFs without realizing - I see them online all the time and it is said because they exclude so many potential readers.)

I would recommend that you are much more upfront about these limitations - and they are NOT minor. With all the promotion of structured documents, I didn’t even think to check whether the structure is properly exported into Word and PDF. I just assumed that for a product so heavily focused on structure, this would not even be a question. From searching on the internet, I know I am not the only one.

I’ll watch future developments with interest and will recommend Scrivener to people as appropriate.

I took a look at L&L’s web page. It pretty much says what Scrivener is and does. It works well with structured documents. From what I see, it makes no claims to being anything other that what it is and does.

In terms of being ‘much more up front’, the web site is as up front as one can expect any to be. It positions their products and the product capabilities. It would be unreasonable to expect any company to promote their product, then add endless disclaimers… ‘Our product does this, this and this, but if you have THIS specific tweak/output need, sorry it doesn’t do that one, or this…’

What for me sets L&L apart from most is you can ask specific questions such as this on the forum and get a detailed answer from one of the team even the owner, usually within a day or so. There are other’s with similar support, but sadly the vast majority don’t seem as forthcoming.

Pre-sales questions on specific capabilities would no doubt be answered just as quickly.

Yeah, I do not know what you mean by that. If anything we are being modest on the website, where we say Scrivener is primarily intended for first drafts. I’d say most people take their use of it considerably beyond that point, but we don’t even claim that Scrivener is a tool designed for the editing phase, since we don’t support the “industry standard” track changes.

I would argue no such thing. :slight_smile: You might agree with me on this point, so sorry if this is being said to the choir: even if there is a ToC, there are numerous and very expensive (in terms of how many years it would take to program them) differences between quality typesetting and run of the mill text output. I have always been a staunch advocate of learning the trade (which can be fun!) and acquiring the necessary software, or hiring a professional, if one is not only writing but responsible for designing the layout of the book and its text. One shouldn’t even be using Microsoft Word to generate publication-ready PDFs, let alone a $40 writing program. This is the domain of Quark, InDesign and LaTeX, for instance.

As for the ToC though, we believe that fits in since having a navigable tree in a PDF for proofing is a very nice thing. As for stylesheets, we’ll be adding those specifically because they make transition to proper publication tools and professional/academic workflows far easier than the current situation.


I don’t think anyone should ever use Word for anything, but a lot of people do use it, a certain $40 writing program, and other similar tools (+1 for Pages) to generate publication-ready PDFs. They either can’t or don’t want to use the likes of InDesign or trained typesetters because of cost, timing, learning curve, personal preference, etc, etc, etc. And the list of people who choose the simplest route to market isn’t confined to individuals and small companies.

We disseminate ideas and information so quickly these days and consume our media in so many different ways, few people (in my experience) notice or care about the nth degree of layout niceties: content triumphs typography by a long, long, long way — and high-end tools and trained typesetters can’t save works from poor writing and poor editing.

We all—I assume—want to read works that flow well and are easy on the eye, and the likes of Scrivener and Pages (in the right hands) are more than capable of producing copy that meets those critical mileposts, just as people who use InDesign and Quark are capable of producing copy that falls way short of those same mileposts. Such software may have more potential than simpler programs, but that potential isn’t always realised by the user (or noticed by the consumer).

I think Word is the lowest of the low, but I’d rather read a well-written novel output cleanly from Word than a poorly written novel output from InDesign.

So I’m all for content over nth-degree typography and accepting that different people prefer different tools, especially as simpler tools have allowed the publication world to expand and grow in far more democratic and meritocratic ways than was possible before the simpler tools existed.

The world would get along just fine without InDesign, Quark, and trained typesetters.

It would be a poorer place if it lost its writers.

Ioa, I would rather read your ideas carved into slabs of rancid cheese than read XXXXXX’s ideas typeset in InDesign. You, your words, and your ideas matter. The typesetting doesn’t.


Briar Kit

Well put Briar

Good to see you back 8) 8)

Rancid cheese? Ew. :open_mouth:

Thanks and thanks.

Forgive me. :blush:

I was about to buy Scriveners and thought to try the trial first. I liked a lot of what Scriveners has to offer but was very glad to hear from the YouTube spokesperson for Scrivener Karin Prince that one can export a Scrivener file to mobi and epub. But have not been able to find where that capability on Scrivener exists. Seems we can only export as PDF. Can we export our manuscript to mobi and epub as well as PDF? If so, how? Or where in the manual do we get instructions?

You may select any kind of ebook in the compile dialog in the field compile for 8)