Love Scrivener, hate Word. Need a better workflow

Although I’m hoping that someone can lend some insight into this use case issue, I’m not betting on it (mostly because we know Word sucks).

Here’s my dilemma. I do all my initial writing for my books in Scrivener. Love it. Best thing I’ve ever done for my writing. Now, my publisher (a large one) has a charming Word template (.DOC no less) with special styles and a little macro bar (mostly for adding styles easily I think) that help them take my Word doc and turn it into a book. I gather there is some voodoo with InDesign going on at the end of the process.

So here is what I’m doing:

Publishing my draft (I do a chapter at a time) to Word (DOC not DOCX). I have Scriv. insert the titles from the binder and I’ve given them some formatting so I can pick them out from the text.
Open in Word (the formatting is all there as expected which is awesome).
Then to Format->Styles and through the Styles Organizer add all the styles from the publisher’s template into the document.
Now the fun part … applying the styles throughout the document. There are lots of styles. Body text, headings of different levels, production directives, sidebars, notes … you get the idea.
The process of adding styles is tedious. I wind up having to view invisibles so I can delete the paragraph then hit return again so I can separate the style (and so the space between paragraphs is correct).

Tonight I pushed out 4 chapters to my editors, took me probably 2 hours … no longer because I watched 300 and another show and wasn’t done … to make all the changes. Believe me the process is fraught with the potential to trash a document.

Once the chapter is in Word, it says in Word for the remainder of the process. It has to so I don’t lose the edits (Track changes might suck, but it does work).

Is there any way I can streamline this process? I’ve looked and it just seems that I can’t get the special Word styles to morph in. Oh, and it isn’t the formatting that’s the issue. I tried that. It’s the names of the styles. Body text HAS to be style FT with certain properties just as style PD is for production directives (insert figure here…).

I’m not in a million years going to abandon Scrivener over this, I’d just like there to be some way to lessen the pain.

Thanks for your help. Even if it is just commiserating.

You may be able to use the find-and-replace in Word to partly automate this, since it can search on paragraph attributes and replace with a style applied. So, for example, you should be able to indent blockquotes in Scrivener (using the ruler), compile the draft to doc or rtf keeping the formatting intact, then search in Word for paragraphs that are indented exactly 2cm (or whatever) and replace with the identical text formatted with your publisher’s preferred blockquote style. And so on, for other styles, the trick being to make them identifiable in Scrivener by the formatting, since Scrivener doesn’t tag paragraphs with style names.

If this works, then you could also look into automating it further by saving each such search as a macro in Word and then putting together a composite macro that imposes all the styles in one go. (I think that this last part would only work in Word 2004 and previous because Word 2008 dropped macro support. Or you could do it in any version of Windows Word.)

I’m afraid that all this is a bit hedged and vague because I don’t do this myself – I use Word as little as possible.


The first part certainly works. I’ve tested it just now. You need to leave the ‘Find what’ and ‘Replace with’ boxes in the Find and Replace dialogue blank so that Word is only looking for formatting, like this:

(This is in Word 2004. It may look a bit different in other versions.)

The formatting is applied by putting the cursor in the Find box, then selecting paragraph from the Format dropdown menu and choosing whatever is appropriate. Then repeat with the cursor in the Replace box, this time choosing Style from the Format dropdown and picking the desired style from the list you will be offered. The result should be as in the screenshot with the formatting info showing up in small text under the Find and Replace boxes.

Hope that helps.

Nicka … thank you! That is certainly worth a shot. Even if I can get the production directives and a few others set. That might work.

If only Word didn’t suck so badly…

This may be a dumb (well, uninformed) question, but could you mark up your scrivener documents with text tags that you could search for in word and replace with styles more easily?

Or even better, maybe a way to enter the style tags manually (like editing a simple HTML page’s source) in Scrivener so that when you import the RTF file into Word, the tags are recognized by Word & converted to the right styles? If you worked out what to enter for each style, then you could take advantage of text auto-complete to make sure and avoid technical typos. (Scrivener does have a place to enter auto-complete words, right? I didn’t just imagine that feature?)

I doubt it would be a two-way street (pretty sure it couldn’t be), but at least the move from Scriv. to Word would be less painful if this is possible.

Another great idea … thinking how I can put that into practice. Doing some tests now. The biggest problem is making sure that I use the publishers styles … not the formatting as much, but the actual style names.

All great ideas! Thank you!

As an update…I think a combination of both approaches is going to work best. Also, I’ve found that Exporting to RTF and not Word format seems to make it easier to format the whole document.

Of course this isn’t fix Word’s annoying habit of when switching styles that sometimes Word doesn’t apply the font correctly.

I almost wish I could go from Scrivener to LaTEX.

On the upside…my editors like my latest traunch of chapters and have been sent to technical editing! :smiley:

That’s more or less what I do. I check formatting while in Scrivener by pasting pieces into LaTeXiT. I compile draft for large sections and export as plain text files, for example, “part1.txt” “part2.txt”. I add those sections into a master TeXShop document with \include or \input statements. (See:
You will need a system of tweaking the text documents. I manage them in EagleFiler. Other people use a Scrivener → MultiMarkDown → LaTeX workflow, but I haven’t tried that approach.


Man I wonder if that would give me more headaches. There has just got to be a better way. Is it that Word’s style management is just epically bad?

If you think Word’s style management is bad in Word 2004 for Mac, you don’t even want to try to use it in Word 2007 for Windows. (I use Windows at work.)

Bear in mind that you might be able to create macros for automation once you figure out your technique; and make sure you create a NEW custom dictionary for your novel, especially if it’s speculative fiction. You can make macros to switch custom dictionaries.

No kidding, there was a lot I liked about Word 2007, but Styles wasn’t one of them.

I think part of the trick is going to be using the Pearson-preferred fonts on Export, etc. I like Optima while writing, but Pearson likes Verdana (and 11 pt…ouch on the eyes). That might help save me a headache or three.


I keep reading your work process and I’m having trouble picturing the workflow you’re describing.

The first thing I would probably do is to save the publisher .doc (document) as a .dot (template). I don’t know that doing so is necessary. I remember having to work with styles across multiple documents repeatedly, and can no longer recall the reason I started using templates in favor of documents when doing so. There should be no reason to have to copy a bunch of styles via the Style Organizer. Although I’m pretty sure that you don’t necessarily have to use a template to carry styles over.

The second thing I would do is have two windows open, the .rtf holding your chapter and a blank document based on the publisher’s template. Then I’d drag-n-drop, formatting as I went along. I’d keep the Formatting Palette open to the Styles section, so I could easily click on a style after dropping a slew of paragraphs.

Hope this helps.

I have the publisher’s template as my, etc. What works best I’ve recently found is to compile the draft as an RTF file and have the text and headings set to the same font, size, and style as will be needed.

It seems to work better that way going RTF and open in Word than compile as Word. The paragraph breaks and style breaks just seem to be cleaner.

Still was a pain, but a lot less of a pain.