Importing Word Documents

Just bought the app to finish a book that was originally in word with well-defined chapter, page and subheading breaks in it.
Spent three hours re-inserting all the breaks (there’s hopefully a way to do this in the future) to realize that only half of the book imported into scrivener.
I am hopeful that someone here will help me find out what I need to do to accomplish this task.

MAC Yosemite
Word document is 85k words
Has Chapter, section, subheading and some images and is 2.7 MB in size
Only imports half of the document and doesn’t recognize a single chapter break
No way (that I can see) to break chapters
The book has bibliography and table of contents

Thank you!

Hello, welcome to the software. Converting an existing manuscript to Scrivener may be a little easier in the long-term future (for those that are careful with stylesheets in their word processor), but this whole area is not something we put a lot of resources into since the main point of Scrivener is to be where you start writing, making bulk manuscript imports something most people only have to mess with once or so, for their current WIP.

So with that in mind, what are you looking to do with the software when you say you’re wanting to “finish a book” with it? If you’re thinking of adopting Scrivener’s writing approach so as to make rewrites and editing easier, great, you’ve come to the right place, and I would say the toil of converting from one way of writing to another is decidedly worth it!

But, if you’re doing all of this just to hit the compile button—well, you might find yourself right back in a desktop publishing style program post haste, and potentially with a lower quality document than what you started with. From your description it sounds like you’ve got stylesheets with heading levels, a bibliography with a table of content, and it’s important to note that none of these are supported directly by Scrivener—those types of things are what people move on to other programs for, once the principle writing is done. If that’s where you are with this book, you might consider holding off until the next project, as your carefully prepared Word file is certainly going to be better off and more agile in Word at this point.

Basically there so many different ways that different people might want different documents to be automatically split up that really the best approach is to give you some handy tools for doing that kind of thing yourself:

  • The Split features, found in the Documents menu, are the best tool for this.
  • If your chapters are clearly marked with text (for example, the word “Chapter”), then you might be able to use the File/Import/Import and Split… tool to get the bulk of the work done (subheads will still require a human to do the interpretation mostly likely).

For this problem I would suggest doing the conversion from DOCX to RTF using Word itself, first. RTF is a native format to both programs, meaning import should be a whole lot faster and potentially less problematic since very little conversion will be done. It sounds to me as though something in the original file is causing the third-party conversion toolkit we use to give up, so we might as well remove that from the equation.