New User - Learning Curve Questions

Hi guys,

I just finished writing my 400 page novel in Word 2013. I was having some formatting issues and my editor recommended Scrivener. Now, I am NOT a technology person, and I DID read through the tutorial, but I’m still having a little trouble with a few things.

My novel has been fully edited, I am just trying to fix a formatting issue from Word before I send it over to CreateSpace.

Here was my problem with Word and why I transferred to Scrivener:
After playing with every combination on and off of all of the Line and Paragraph options (yes, including the Widows/Orphans option, and Keep Lines Together option), and dumping the entire document to a Notepad file to make sure I didn’t have any hidden characters anywhere, Word would sometimes jump a line of text at the bottom of the page to the next page, even if there was room for it on the previous page. The only way for me to fix this was the manually retype the line at the bottom of the first page, and then delete it from the top of the next page, but I was concerned this would cause formatting issues later on down the road.

Trouble with Scrivener:

  1. How do I know what it will look like in the 6.14 x 9.21 format I want to submit it to CreateSpace in? Or rather, how do I change that setting? I don’t see any pages anywhere, it all just looks like one giant page to me.
  2. How do I insert page numbers, and how do I make page 1 start on page 7 of my document (I have all the dedications and copyright stuff at the beginning of the book that I don’t want numbered)?
  3. I have not experimented with this yet, but I figured I might as well ask while I’m here. My illustrator will be sending over the final edits of the chapter art for my book in the next two days. Is there an easy way to insert, potentially resize, and center align the pictures?

I know these are very newbie questions, and I greatly appreciate your time and patience with me.

Kind Regards,


Okay, one thing that deserves mention at the very top: Scrivener is mainly a writing program, it doesn’t have a lot of features for actually formatting a document for final publication specifications—far less than Word in this regard. The idea of this program is that it would be where you write for eight months or whatever, but then you “compile” your project to a single document file that can be opened in a program like Word and fixed up using an environment than is inherently predisposed toward layout (such as being able to see precisely which page a particular sentence will appear on, and where within that page).

So basically, you’ve taken a completely written work and removed it from the layout environment, into a program that was designed around the whole concept of not creatively writing into a desktop publishing system, and then trying to export that back out as a Word document. :slight_smile: I really wouldn’t recommend Scrivener for what you’re doing. As frustrating as orphans may be to sort out in Word, I can’t imagine Scrivener would be any better since you can’t even see a “page”, much less even enable orphan and widow protection, or insert Keep With Next markers (those two things will be added eventually, though).

Another thing to consider is that with default settings and Office 2013 installed, you’re likely using Office itself to create the .docx file from Scrivener, meaning it’s using the same old Word engine to produce the final layout. True you could switch your settings to not use Office’s libraries, but the overall quality of the result will suffer and in my opinion not be suitable for publication.

You’re looking for File/Compile, where one’s writings are turned into a single document (click the blue arrow in there to see all options). If you’ve just dumped your .docx into one single entry in the Binder then that may seem entirely unnecessary, but one wouldn’t ordinarily use Scrivener like that, rather they would at the very least create individual sections in the blue Binder sidebar for chapter-length chunks of text—and experienced users may create complicated outlines with hundreds or even thousands of items—thus having a tool that can glue all of those “shreds of paper” together into a single file is invaluable, and this is when things like margins are set, paper sizes, headings and footers and other document details begin to exist. Scrivener can even assemble the “structure” of the book, generating numbered chapter headings out of the outline names in the Binder and so on.

It’s a whole different way of working, and perhaps you can start to see how putting a nearly completely .docx file into Scrivener only to export it again would really get you nowhere but very likely some major steps backward.

Case in point: this is one of those things that people have to set up in their desktop publishing software after they compile from Scrivener. Again, Scrivener is for writing the text, not really so much about making documents out of that text. Once a project has entered the phase where it is being heavily edited and modified for appearance, it’s probably past the point where Scrivener is even being used any more, at least for that project.

Sure, it’s the same as most word processors in that regard: just drag and drop it into the text where you want it, or Edit/Insert. You’ll want to check with your illustrator, but they may have already carefully sized everything for the output and in that case you wouldn’t want to resize in Scrivener (or any system for that matter) to avoid blurry images. But if not, yes it is easy to just resize it—much like Word handles it as a matter of fact, you can drag off of the corner or right-click to edit the image, if you need more precision.

So I feel bad that this is how you’ve been introduced to the software, and that this post has mainly been a very long way of saying that I would recommend maybe picking Scrivener up for your next book and approaching the software purely as a writing environment with a decently solid “escape mechanism” for when you’re done writing and need to polish up the work as a proper singular document that will eventually be printed or used to generate a print-ready PDF.

Thanks for the reply!

Maybe I’ll take 4-5 chapter, put them in their own file and play with them in Word to see if manually typing in the sentences messes with the formatting like I am concerned about. This is book 1 of 5, so I’ll be jumping right into doing book 2 here in the next couple of weeks, and will be using Scrivener for that.

Is there any formatting software other than Word that you can recommend that might help me?

Again, thank you for getting back to me!


I’m not sure on this, but I think so long as you work strictly from front to back it should be okay. The problem with any kind of hand-tuning is that changes in the length of the document will skew the tuned spots away from where they are optimum. So long as the text “shape” doesn’t change in front of your edits, then it should be fine.

You may want to eventually pick up InDesign skills. Word is a “pretty okay” document production tool, but if you’ve got an eye for quality type, the results between these two programs are in entirely different leagues (and you’ll have much better final production control in a tool like InDesign, as its layout models offer superior control and are better at guessing the best result themselves). So if you’ve got the time and will (and okay, a bit of money too, Adobe is not cheap) to learn it, that would be my recommendation.