Pasting Screenplay Formatted Text Into Novel

I’m trying to paste text in screenplay format into a novel I’m working on in Scrivener, but I can’t get it to retain either the Final Draft or Celtx formatting of the original copy…even if I past the screenplay formatted text into a Scrivener formatted Screenplay text page, the Final Draft/Celtx is modified to the novel formatting, even though ‘paste and match style’ is not used.

Is there any way to do this short of creating a PDF to copy and paste into the novel?

Thanks for your help.


By the way, I did search the KB, but found nothing on point…

You might find it easier to just drop the FDX file into the Binder, rather than trying to copy and paste it. The latter is certainly possible but you need to make sure the document you are pasting into is set to Scriptwriting mode (Cmd-8) for Scrivener’s element detection system to work.

Another thing to consider, if you have already tried both of the above methods, is whether the project script format is set to match the scripting style of the source document. For example, trying to import a document formatting to US Stageplay into a project set to Screenplay would not produce the intended results as element formatting would match. You can switch the mode in the Format/Scriptwriting sub-menu. If necessary, you may need to create your own script format to match the source document. This is fairly easy to do, and is documented in §20.3.2 (pg. 278) of the user manual PDF.

Thanks, Amber…I finally got it, but your suggestions are great for future reference. Thank you!


I actually am trying to do the same thing and found a simple solution until I find a better one. If you make your main format as “screenplay”, and insert your novel portions in that way, the program assumes it is action from the screenplay and it looks like a novel anyway.

In the table of contents, you just rename the “scenes” to “chapters”.

Not sure how to handle the title page part or the cover.

If anyone has any more insight or ideas, please share.


Actually the “General Text” setting would be better in that case, but even better would be to have the narrative portions using the standard document mode and the script portions using scriptwriting mode. The software is designed to allow texts to be composed of both freeform and script styles in the same print-out (usually for treatments, but you can use it for whatever you like naturally).

Could you point me to instructions on how to designate different sections to their own formatting? Can this also be done within the same chapter? I looked in the formatting section of the manual, but maybe I missed it.


Sorry, I kind of glossed over on that. Files can be one of two modes in Scrivener. A scriptwriting document has a yellow-ish icon and the footer bar displays element information. A standard document has a white icon and displays statistics in the footer bar. To switch between modes, simply hit Cmd-8 (the screen will flash a message when you switch) or use the top menu item in the Format/Scriptwriting/ sub-menu, while in the editor (it’s best to do this in single file editing mode rather than Scrivenings; it will work in the latter, but it is more straightforward to toggle a single file).

I’m not sure what that means, precisely. If by ‘chapter’ you mean a single file in the outliner, then no, this is a per-document setting. If your chapters are comprised of multiple documents then it shouldn’t be a problem. Honestly I’d consider multi-file chapters (most people working this way use a folder to gather the documents that make up a chapter) if you’re going to be working this way. It will just be easier to work around the automatic formatting and such. “General” and “Action” aren’t meant to be freeform writing environments, in fact General is just a catch-all for anything that doesn’t match one of the defined elements. But the main reason I would want to put scripted sections into their own files is the “Compile As-Is” flag. This would let me keep the formatting flexible and compiler-controlled for the main narrative, but use special formatting in the scripted sections. “As-Is” tells the compiler to leave that section alone, so the font and other characteristics will remain as seen in the editor. It’s up to you though; the program is very flexible and some people do not even find the compiler’s ability to tidy up the formatting to be an attractive feature, and would rather just use the editor in a more WYSIWYG fashion.

Thanks Amber. I understand it much better now.

Just to make sure you understand what I’m trying t do: a page could consist of an introduction/description of a screenplay excerpt that follows, followed by another description and another excerpt.

Are you saying my intro/description should be in a document, and the screenplay excerpt in the next, separate document? Won’t that create unnecessary chapters and long blank spaces?

Sorry if I keep misunderstanding this.


I don’t think you misunderstand me, I might just be discussing features you haven’t come across yet.

Not necessarily. The program is quite flexible and can be tuned to work with nearly any outlining style. If you would like to see a practical demonstration, try creating a throwaway project using the simple novel starter template. This one demonstrates a method of outlining whereby a chapter is composed of a folder containing individual files for scenes. Now yes, in that particular default template format a blank space would be added in between the files to indicate scene breaks, but that particular detail can be controlled in the Separators compile option pane.

So what I’m suggesting is that you would have a folder with these pieces, alternating as files. Here is a screenshot of what I’m thinking of:

Thank you. That picture is exactly what I had in mind. Seeing that helped a lot.

Sorry Amber, just one more question. As I set up a new project, for what I am trying to do, does it matter which template I choose to start?

Technically, my book is non-fiction, kind of a memoir, but like I said, it has those screenplay sections. Also, is the non-fiction template suited more for textbooks and I should go with fiction?

Or just go with blank?

Sorry, I just would hate to screw this up already right from the start.

I also tried to compile under different settings: one that didnt format the screenplay right, and the other which formatted the script right, but didn’t include all chapters and the table of contents seemed off.

So, with the above question on the template to start with, which compile setting should I use for my ebook?

It doesn’t matter much at all which template you start with. Templates in Scrivener are merely easy-to-unpack project starts. There are no special features unlocked by them, or things that you cannot do with one that can be with another. So if your technically non-fiction book will work best in the standard novel format (as I would submit most would), then go for it.

Personally I start with blank on just about everything I do, though I have my own special blank project which has a few settings I prefer, like titles in Scrivenings mode, and label colours tinting icons. Just remember a template is a project that you’ve frozen and made easy to create many copies off of. Once you use it, all projects are on an equal footing in terms of flexibility.

That said, there are some advantages to starting with a template, but I would submit most of them are in the non-fiction category, with the default compile settings are set up to conform to a style guide. Additionally, project templates are an excellent learning tool. That’s the main reason we have them. There is no better way to learn compile settings and such than to have a practical example you can play with, break and fix, and all of the template projects have a unified proposed outline structure coupled with a compile setup that will produce a commonly desired result. Chances are that neither the proposed outline nor the compile settings are going to be precisely what you want (there is no template set up to specifically handle a script+memoir merger, for example), but seeing how “x” leads to “y” can help you evolve both of those more easily than starting with blank and having no cues whatsoever.

Something I have long said, and in fact wrote into the introduction of the user manual, is that Scrivener is designed from the ground up to be forgiving and flexible. It is very, very difficult to paint yourself into a corner with the software. You can certainly make “mistakes”, but nearly all of them are trivial to correct. You can even start with the “wrong” template since everything about a project is transferrable.

The important thing to take from this is that since the program is so forgiving and flexible, you don’t have to worry too much about what is “right” when you’re starting out. You’ll figure that out along the way as you write, and it likely won’t resemble what we have provided as examples, and if “right” isn’t what you started with, it will, in the majority of cases, be something you can easily fix. A good example is this very conversation. You may decide that the way I propose is slightly more efficient than trying to combine freeform narrative with scripting files—if you had 15,000 words already written this way into chapter-length files, it wouldn’t take long at all to split that up with the [b]Documents/Split[/b] sub-menu commands, and [b]Documents/Group[/b] to be in the same position you were if you had started out that way all along. Or maybe you get 15,000 words into the project and can’t stand having everything broken up into little sections—no problem, just select all of the files that go into the chapter and hit [b]Documents/Merge[/b].

As to specific advice on what results you are seeing, it’s next to impossible for me to speculate on why you do not see what you expect with the ToC. But generally speaking you will have to learn how to tweak the compile settings to produce the effect you desire. We supply some handy presets, but like the project templates they are starting points or learning tools. There is no way we could anticipate every single variation in working style + desired end result, out there. One person might use a chapter folder with files layout like I used above, others might have dozens of files in a single chapter, only a minority of which are meaningful in terms of end-reader book structure as well as any combination in between or beyond, and any of those variations can have countless many different aesthetic and technical output requirements.

So in all honesty I cannot tell you which compile preset is best for your e-book. There is only one answer to that question and it likely doesn’t exist in any of the example prefabs unless you study that prefab and then very specifically work toward it. That is where templates can help, as they have outline style guides included, and if you follow the rules in them you should be okay. It just means sacrificing freeform creativity while writing.

Just remember that with scriptwriting sections, you want to set that “Compile As Is” flag for the scriptwriting sections. Most output settings will attempt to tidy up formatting and that means destroying any special formatting. In most cases this is desirable—you don’t have to worry about whether your indent settings shifted slightly a third of the way through the work and such.

I know I’ve basically just said “It doesn’t matter”, to most of your questions. :slight_smile: But that’s just how this program is designed to work. It doesn’t matter so much, because it acknowledges that no two authors and seldom few books are ever going to be alike. Why shoehorn your creativity into what some piece of software demands of you? A creative tool should, within reason, make it easy to work the way you work best, not the other way around.

Compile as is did the trick. The only weird thing now is the margins. I’m playing with settings now. Might have a question about that at another time, but I’m on the right track.
Thanks again.

Ugh. Define “prefabs” and “templates” (in the context of ebooks)? Are “prefabs” the arcane lil code in the box that pops up in compile /?/ “ebook contains screenplay formatting”/ CSS button?

I’ve compiled using the As-Is and the screenplay formatted scenes carry Courier font for FADE IN: then switch to something random and the character, parenthetical & dialogue elements go flush left positioned at a strange indent I never put into the scene and other sorta random weird stuff. But only for Kindle Fire HD, HDX, HD, and Paperwhite does the element formatting stick just in the wrong font.

iOS is all over the place dead wrong (font is random, formatting character , parenthetical & dialogue elements positioned flush left/random indent).