Hi -
I’m just beginning to use Scrivener and setting up a first project after reading through the basic tutorial. The first thing I wanted to do is import a number of documents relevant to the project which had previously been standalone disconnected documents, so that they’re collected together in the research folder ready for me to cut and paste into the draft area.

From the tutorial this seemed a straightforward thing to do, with Scrivener able to recognise a number of formats, including MS Word and pdf files. However, I’m having some difficulty with this and hope you can let me know if I’m doing something wrong:

Importing a Word document into the research folder gives me a document which starts with a couple of smudgy, but otherwise blank pages. It then goes on to include most of the text with frequent blank smudgy areas. This document did originally include graphics (mostly screenshots) and other formatting such as highlighting.

I thought maybe Scrivener would deal with this better if I converted it to a pdf file. Indeed it does, it seems happy with the formatting mentioned above. However, when I try to copy text and paste it into the draft folders I end up with all spaces removed, like this:

Obviously this isn’t satisfactory. So I’m not sure where to go from here. The tutorial seemed to indicate that collecting other materials together in the research folder was the way to use it. I would be quite happy to have the documents simply listed in the research folder and for them to open up in their original applications if that’s a better way to do it.

Regards, Steve.

Hi Steve,

I’m sorry you’ve run into some trouble with this! I’m not quite sure what “smudgy” pages means (is this what you’re getting where the images were inserted?), but my first thought with the Word imports is that you’ve got some kind of special styles or other fancy formatting in the documents which Scrivener may be having trouble importing. Try saving to RTF from Word and importing that or creating a copy of the file and stripping styles from it in Word, then importing that stripped-down version. If that works we can take a look at what specifically in the original document is causing Scrivener some trouble and if there’s a way we might be able to work around it, but hopefully that will at least bring in your text.

If you’re going to want to edit the text in Scrivener, it’s definitely better to leave it in a text format like .doc or .rtf rather than convert it to PDF. Scrivener’s PDF reader doesn’t copy well, as you’ve seen, but even if you opened the PDF in another reader and copied and pasted from there, you’d still end up with some funky line breaks, etc. and would end up needing to clean things up. If all you’re needing to do is read the text, then PDF is a great format, and you should be able to import any of these you have into Scrivener’s Research folder and view them directly in the editor or use Documents > Open > Open in External Editor to view them (with annotations, etc.) in your default PDF reader.

Finally, if you just want to link to documents rather than have them imported into your project, you can do so with the Document and Project Reference panes in the Inspector. This will let you link to an external file like a Word document and open it in the default program outside of Scrivener, so again, if you don’t need to edit the text in Scrivener, this might be something you want. Project references are accessible no matter what you’re looking at in the project and document reference are specific to a binder item and are only viewable when you’re viewing that document’s meta-data in the inspector. You can access the references by clicking the tab with the books icon at the bottom of the inspector (View > Layout > Show Inspector) and switch between the two types by clicking in the references header in the inspector.

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for that explanation. I think I probably just misunderstood the purpose of the research folder in that case. The project references paneof the Inspector will do just as well.

Converting the document to rtf didn’t make any difference to the strange view, which may well be because of the formatting (it has headers and footers, tables of contents and various other styles and formatting peculiarities). I attach a sample of the ‘smudgy’ effect only because I mentioned it earlier and ought to clarify what I meant.