How to compile to Word doc whilst preserving outlining

I just bought Scrivener yesterday, because it came highly recommended for the writing task that is lying ahead of me. However, I cannot figure out how to compile a Scrivener document to a Word document in such a way that all the headings are preserved in such a way that I can still use the outlining feature in Word. So far, all my compiled Word documents that I have experimented with had the correct styling of the text (headings, subheadings and body text), but all the outlining levels had disappeared and been reduced to all body text in Word.
I’m sure this is such a basic question, there must be a way of doing this, but I cannot figure it out, even after searching around on the web now for an hour. Can one of the expert please just save me from wasting more time?
thanks so much for any help

Scrivener does not support Word-like Styles at this time. The formatting you see is just formatting: it does not carry the “Heading” label that true Styles do.

The best solution is usually to use Word’s Find by Formatting features to apply the Styles you want after the document has been compiled.

(Note that there are some significant modifications to the Scrivener styles system coming in Scrivener 3.0, which is currently in beta testing. I can’t comment on a release timeline, but if this will be a longer project, another alternative might be to just ignore the issue until Scrivener 3.0 is released.)


There is another option which gives you lots of other benefits but one potential downside: use Multimarkdown compile in Scrivener (MMD).

Scrivener automatically supports 6 levels of MMD headings, and these are correctly styled to “Heading 1-6” with the correct outline level etc. Pandoc (input: mmd | output: nearly anything) in particular exports well formed DOCX directly, with other very neat features like Word template support (so you not only get a file with full outlining preserved, but all your styles are as you automagically specified in a template). It handles proper figure captions, block quotes, you can generate full bibliographies, table support etc etc. And you can easily export to any other of the multitude of formats it supports.

Another approach is to make sure each level of heading compiled from Scrivener is clearly differentiated in terms of font, size and variant, then in Word do a “search all” for each particular set of attributes and then replace them with the desired style.


Mostly I have been concerned with getting outline structures /into/ Scrivener in various ways and have various strategies for that, but what I resolved to for working the other direction is this:

Turns out, since my main writing domain is Scrivener, that is where I really want to be outlining anyway. The document outlining you get in Outline view in Scriv is not quite (or all) that I need, so I defined a set of paragraph presets to format different levels of outline* and then assigned key commands to them. Since I can choose to pass on or remove all that indenting when producing compiled output, I thus have a very similar outline facility as Word provided – that is, you get the utility of visual hierarchy with the ability to suppress it occasionally when sending things out.

Word uses a special internal marker for paragraphs at an outline level and this marker is distinct from the internal marker that marks a paragraph as a Heading 1, 2, 3 etc paragraph. The program makes these things go hand-in-hand, but in the internal coding they are distinct.** So, while Katherine’s statement about Scriv 3.0 suggests some promise, it is an open question, I think, whether the upcoming style system in 3.0 will actually have a mechanism to style paragraphs in a way that would also tag them as to be exported with Words outline codes. It is not clear to me Katherine meant to suggest that it would or had something else in mind.


  • In fact, I made sure the styling of each level matches my preferred styling for this in Word. That way I can also bring outlined text in from Word with a simple copy and paste. The paste preserves the formatting (though not Word’s internal marker for outline level), so it fits right in.

** My knowledge on this is based on how Word’s RTF code works. I am assuming the xml or .docx files works in parallel fashion.

The answer is that I have not yet tested the beta extensively enough to be able to answer this specific a question.


Headings in Scrivener is accomplished by using folders and subfolders in the Binder. Not by giving text a special format. If you structure your text the way Scrivener expects you to, then it should be possible to compile to Word and getting the titles correct, or possibly going via html and importing html-coded text into Word.

Greg is correct that outline level is a separate function in Word compared to styling (i.e. you can have a Heading 4 named style without a level 4 ouline statement).

BUT in general, Word does link them together, so I suspect as long a S3.0 does enable named style output, then it should transfer over to outline levels too.

Greg seems to have specialist needs, but for most of us using the binder and outliner is the optimal way for working with structured documents in Scrivener. For output FROM Scrivener in my case using MMD for compile I get 6 levels of outline correctly assigned in Word without me having to do anything in Word itself.