Importing RTF Superscript then Printing to PDF

I am importing .rtf files into Scrivener. If I then compile these files to PDF, the superscripted characters are using fonts that are too large (same size as normal text) and cause line spacing problems. If I export the files to MS Word, the superscripted characters are reduced in size and the line spacing is good.

Is there a way when compiling to change the superscript font size?

That is an area of difference between these two text engines. Word assumes super/sub-scripts should use a smaller font by default, Apple’s leaves that decision up to you and as a discrete formatting action (you can of course combine a baseline adjustment with a font size into a saved formatting preset, but that won’t do anything with the ones you already have). If you’ve got thousands of them formatted around Word’s assumptions, then it might be best to continue doing your printing and final production from there. You will also benefit from how it collapses baseline modifications into existing line-height whitespace, instead of modifying the line-height model and thus causing uneven leading in the text wherever there is a superscript.

“as a discrete formatting action (you can of course combine a baseline adjustment with a font size into a saved formatting preset”

  • how would one go about doing this?

I appreciate your help.

Set up an example the way you want it to look, select it, then use the Format/Formatting/New Preset from Selection… menu command. For something like this you would want only character attributes saved, and of course the font size checkbox. Once saved, you can access the preset from that same menu area, or more easily on the far left of the Format Bar.

I have set up the preset. For me it superscripts the entire line up to the newline. Is this right or am I doing something wrong?

Also, to retrieve the preset from the left of the format bar I must click and scroll to the superscript format. Is there a way to make this a visible component of the format bar so that it is just a click? I do have many, many superscripted references.

One last thing, do I understand the situation correctly:

  1. RTF syntax preserves the superscripted characters as I pass my text from its source program (Reunion for Mac) into Scrivener,
  2. Scrivener knows about the superscripted characters from the source program (but does not render them superscripted in the displayed document)
  3. Scrivener can compile the superscripted characters correctly to MSWord
  4. but, the PDF generation utility used by Scrivener (supplied by Apple) will not render the superscripted characters in the final PDF.

So . . if I emit RTF from Scrivener and then use a PDF generator (like MSWord, (but I do not own MSWord)) I will be able to accomplish what I want (Smaller font for superscripted characters).

You might want to assign a key command to your preset, for easiest access. You can assign a keyboard shortcut for it in Apple system preferences under Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts. There you specify a shortcut for Scrivener app with menu item set to the preset’s name.


I’d need a little more on the specifics of the steps you are taking. That doesn’t match any behaviour I’m aware of—I mean with the exception of literally selecting all text to the end of the line and applying a preset, but then that wouldn’t be a very confusing result. :slight_smile:

If you don’t own Word then I’d recommend LibreOffice (RTF or ODT from Scrivener), the free OpenOffice fork. It will work as you are expecting it to, and it’s PDF generator is in general of fairly high quality—better than either Word or macOS in my opinion.

Another thing I just discovered is that it looks like Apple has finally added this to their text engine in 10.12. It’s… not perfect and it still makes a huge mess of the leading, but I suppose it looks more familiar so long as you use alphanumerics alone. Hence some day when you upgrade you’ll find things more familiar looking.

The bottom line on standards and my advice on which direction to take: no font size adjustment is superior for compatibility and long-term archival. Small text super/subscripts is a display mechanic, not really formatting, so using explicit formatting to emulate a display mechanic from another program will ultimately reduce the flexibility of the text, beyond Scrivener. To compare this with something that is similar, full justification and hyphenation: you can go in and manually tweak a line to produce very carefully designed full justification, typing in your own hyphens—or you can leave all of that up to the text engine. Neither is more correct, and in some scenarios (like a film poster) you would definitely want to handle it manually—but letting the engine handle the details will mean the document remains useful for many years to come, even if it doesn’t look as nice in an engine that doesn’t hyphenate and otherwise does an awful job at justification (like a web browser).

If you’re just printing straight out of Scrivener and have no use for a flexible long-term archive, then the standards argument is less compelling and it is better to make things look as good as you can using the tools you have to do so. Just be aware that if in five years you open your backup and add your own superscript in Word or LibreOffice, it might not look like the rest that were all hard-coded with a specific font size.

I still do not really understand why Scrivener handles imported footnote numbers the way it does. I use a genealogy package to generate RTF files that I bring into Scrivener for consolidation and final output to a PDF. I keep the source document list within each section so that the reference is local to the section. If I import a section into Word, the footnote numbers are superscripted and they use a smaller font than the regular text. When I import the same document into Scrivener it is superscripted but uses the same size font as the regular text. This causes line spacing problems.

Can’t this be fixed so that the font is smaller or at least made into an option?