Formats change when importing to Scrivener

Hey all,

I’ve got a problem I’m hoping you can help me with. I’ve been using Scrivener for almost a year and have LOVED it. Figured most of it out (with a little help from the forum). I had no problems importing any of my documents and building the books. Until about a month ago.

I have no idea why it suddenly changed. The program was the same–the only thing I did, was about three months ago I got a new computer (Apple Mac with OS X El Capitan). I switched the scrivener program over and everything worked just as it had before.

Then, the next time I tried to do import something into Scrivener, I had mega-problems. In the past, all I had to do was import a MS word document and it would show up in Scrivener the EXACT same way it did in word. But now, for some reason I can’t fathom, everything imports wonky (that’s a technical term). In other words, it doesn’t import the way it should.

A document that is formatted one way in a Word doc – for example, 12pt Times New Roman, 1.5 spacing, aligned left with .03 paragraph indent now has lost all it’s formatting. It instead imports with no spacing, no indents and any chapter formatting is gone. Looks more like a RTF doc that has had it’s formatting cleared.

What has happened? What box didn’t I check or accidentally unchecked? It’s driving me crazy and costing me a lot of time I don’t have. So any help you can give me I would REALLY appreciate.

Thanks in advance,


Yeah, that sounds like the third-party converter we use isn’t working, or is for some reason switched off, and as a result Scrivener is dropping to the macOS-provided DOCX->RTF converter which, as you note, is kind of awful.

First, I would check for “enhanced converters” being enabled at the very bottom of the Import/Export preference pane, and if that is already set, try inverting the secondary option beneath it and try importing again.

Alternatively, speaking of RTF, there is no better program for saving an RTF file than Word itself, and being Scrivener’s native format, this will always result in the fastest and most accurate import possible. If you have one or two here and there, now and then, it might be good enough to just do things that way. If you import by the hundreds and have thousands of archived .doc/x files—then yes, getting the slower built-in converter working again would be best.

Thanks for the quick response. I’m assuming you meant…

preferences>import/export? If so, I did check there and the converters ARE enabled. Not sure what you mean by inverting. I did try unchecking the java box that is below it, but that did nothing. The document still imported incorrectly.

So, what next?

Thanks in advance…

I’d try to get some data if any is being provided. Try running in the background while importing a document, and copy and paste any lines that appear relevant (feel free to use PM if you’d rather not post them here). I’d also recommend setting the “Show internal alerts” option at the bottom of the General preference pane in Scrivener, and reporting any error messages you receive if any.

I would also test export. Choose a short document in the Binder and use File/Export/Files… with DOCX as the format, and you could try compiling as well. A test involving line spacing so that you can check for that most obvious symptom would be the approach I’d take.

Then, if you can export a clean looking .docx, try importing that back into your project. If you can round-trip from RTF to DOCX and back again, then we can rule out a general problem with the converters.

Hey Amber,

Thanks for the info. I’ve sent a private message. :slight_smile: