Footnotes, references, markdown, and Word .doc

Hi all,

It seems to me that it’s not possible to use both Markdown formatting for writing, and full compilation for .doc export. Or am I missing something?

Here’s my use case:

  • I want to write in Markdown, so that I can easily do so on the iPad at various points. This means syncing plain text files with an external folder.
  • It’s academic writing, so I have a lot of references. I want to use just the citation key from my reference manager, as it’s only the final form that should generate the full citation (as second and subsequent references to the same work are styled differently). There are plugins for MS Word that scan and do the insertion of this stuff well; I want to leave it till then.
  • The references are in footnotes, not endnotes. This means RTF export isn’t enough, as it can’t do real footnotes.

It seems to me that the first and third options are mutually exclusive: If I want to write in Markdown, RTF export is as good as it gets. If I want .doc/.docx export, then I can’t do markdown conversion. Is that right?

As a side note, I’ve used Scrivener extensively in the past, but primarily to output to Latex, with BibTex managing my bibliography. That’s overkill for me these days, plus I need .doc output to hand on to others.



Within Scrivener, you could try to compile mmd --> Flat XML (.fodt), which would open in OpenOffice and its variants. From there you could save as word for your final sweep.

Alternatively, and this is adding an extra step (and piece of paid-for software – MultiMarkdown Composer):

  1. Compile to MultiMarkdown from Scrivener.
  2. Open the resulting mmd file in MMD Composer.
  3. Export to word document.

That’s correct, the FODT format is what you are looking for when using MultiMarkdown in a word processing environment. LibreOffice is going to be the best, but Nisus Writer Pro is also good at opening these if you have it. From there you can get whatever format you need, and in most cases it will be an even more flexible document than those using Scrivener as a word processor will get. For instance your figures will be captioned in a manner that can be cross-references, everything will have stylesheets applied to it and so on.

The .doc export from MMD Composer is not going to be using that same high-quality source, it should be noted. It looks more like a conversion to HTML which is then passed through textutil (which is how the RTF version is made). It may be all right for texts with very simple formatting though. You might as well just use the RTF export from Scrivener if that output is acceptable (and it won’t be since you need real footnotes and such).

To summarise:

  • Don’t use any of the non-MMD formats except in fringe cases.
  • MMD->RTF shouldn’t be used save for very “simple” documents or for rough proofing.
  • MMD->FODT is one of the best word processor outputs Scrivener has. It’s worth the hassle of downloading LibreOffice.

Happy New Year!