Importing Chinese text into scrivener

HI all,
I’ve searched and not found any specific help. I am trying to import Chinese text from word files into scrivener. I am writing a thesis and use snippets from my transcribed interviews to write from/or quote. I need to read the CHinese, and sometimes I put the final quotes in CHinese and ENglish in my compiled document. It appears I can type Chinese in to scrivener but its not recognising imports or cut-and-paste, even if I change the fonts. Any tips here? I am tempted to just give up using scrivener as if this is a problem its not worth using even if its great otherwise! My supervisor is always rearranging my structure so this is the perfect programme for me otherwise.


Sydney, Australia

Hi Kelly,

Welcome to Scrivener and the forum. Another forumite brought your post to my notice, as I use Chinese and she thought I might be able to help. Sadly, I’m a Mac user and know nothing about Scrivener for Windows, or much about Windows under the hood. I’ve generally never had any problem reading Windows-Word files produced under Chinese Windows on my Macs, unless they were written on Word 95, or using one particular Mac processor that can’t handle binary .doc in Chinese at all.

On the other hand, I suspect that your problem is a matter of encoding, so it will depend partly on the origins of the .docs you are trying to import and the version of Word that they were written in and you have. I would guess that what is happening is that one system is using GB2312/GB18030/Big5 or whatever and the other is using UTF8/16. So I can only suggest a couple of things:

a) If it is not clear to you what encoding Scrivener for Windows is using, check with LEE;
b) See if you can open the files in Word and switch the encoding to whatever Scrivener is using.
c) Try opening the file in Word and saving it out as RTF — I presume Scrivener for Windows can import RTF files — as that is a plain-text format so you don’t have the binary conversion issues.

If it continues to be a problem, I’ll see if I can get a Windows using friend to install Scrivener and see what happens here … it might be an idea anyway, as they’ll be using Chinese Windows which may have other issues.


THanks Mark, I can see that word is using unicode, but I can’t work out what Scrivener is using… will keep trying and let you know what happens


Tried unicode (various), various GB codes, and saving it in rtf or txt files with various codes. NOthing seems to be working. Gotta get on with the actual writing so have to give up now or my supervisor will be very unhappy :frowning:
Pity, love the programme otherwise… and can’t convert to Mac as using a uni computer…

Just noted as I was closing down the programme that all the characters ARE actually showing up, but with gobbly-de-gook in between (such as letters and symbols). Does this give us a clue to what is going on?

Resolved! With the help of Mark and Lee (thanks)

Scrivener for windows uses UTF-8, one of several unicodes. I use windows XP and word 2007. My default settings must have been something else, and there must be someway to change it, but I managed it this way:

This is what my file looked like when I imported it into Scrivener:

But I fixed it by saving my word document as plain text and selecting UTF-8 (didn’t work for rich text) before importing it into scrivener. It’s now fine, although of course very plain It now looks like this:


Hope this helps anyone else trying to do the same thing! Now I’m off to do some writing!


Hi Kelly,

I am having similar problems with my Japanese. (I am also a postgrad at Sydney.)
Could you please explain in detail how you did it.
Windows vista (Japanese version) doesnt show me how to save as a plain text. How do I do this? Where do I select UTF-8? Scrivener looks like a great tool. I unfortunately cant use if i won`t be able to freely import/export Japanese and Endnote footnotes.

Please help,


HI Filip,

sorry it took a while to get back to you! In detail, here is what I did:

I looked up on Word help how to change the encoding of a file, and followed the instructions. Search for “Choose text encoding when you open and save files”.

From memory, I basically had to open the word file. THen select save as. Down the bottom of the dialogue box there is a drop down menu where you can select the file type – it will probably show .doc. Select ‘Plain text (*txt)’. Then save. A dialogue comes up called “file conversion - (filename)” Select ‘other encoding’ (rather than windows default). There is a list of encodings. I selected ‘UTF-8’, then save.

I then imported this txt file into Scrivener using the file>import tool. It comes up fine straight away, although minus any flash formatting. But that’s OK as I am just importing it as research files and cutting and pasting sentences into my English thesis.

Hope this helps!


Hi Kelly and Filip,

I too am sorry not to have kept contributing, but our Anniversary Celebrations are over now, and I am finally back to normal levels of overwork!

I have started working with friends here to look into the Chinese end of the problem. I’m glad you’ve found a solution, Kelly, that enables you to get on with your PhD. For Filip, I hope Kelly’s solution works for you too.

I’ll post again when my friends and I come up with anything to improve on Kelly’s solution. We’ve been put on hold by the beta version downloaded promptly going out of date, but as soon as the new one’s up, we’ll get back onto it.


THanks Mark, let us all know when they happens!