Plain text project

(I’m new to Scrivener.)

It seems to me that one should be able to set things up so that you could have a 100% plain text project, but since the source files are all apparently rtfd, it will be necessary to (1) set up the formatting so that it is compatible with plain text, and then (2) export the project as plain text. What I’m not clear on is the first part. Is there a mode or a standard set of options that will keep the project free of invisible formatting characters when exported as text?

As for why I want to do this, I need to create a set of manuscript projects using groff & friends.

Greg Shenaut

This has been covered in this thread and also here.

Groff? :cry:

Presumably Groff — not pronounced “gerroff”, by any chance? :wink: — is a friend of Nroff and Troff, which I used to use in the late '70s … Those were the days, my friend … 8)



Yes, just set up the text in Preferences to use a plain text font such as Monaco. Then use System Preferences to change the keyboard shortcut for Paste and Match Style to cmd-V, so that pasting will always paste in plain text.

Scrivener relies on rich text for many things, including footnotes and comments, so it is not possible to make the editor truly plain text.

All the best,

Presumably Groff — not pronounced “gerroff”, by any chance? :wink: — is a friend of Nroff and Troff, which I used to use in the late '70s … Those were the days, my friend … 8)
Mark, think “GNU-(t|n)-roff”. Which means g-roff. To cry is insufficient. WEEP.

gshenaut accept my apologies for what follows. It is not targeted at you but at IT in general.

Why oh why do we feel the need to use acronyms of acronyms? In the days of 9600bps (note the missing k all you spoiled modern types) it made sense. But in these days of broadband and unlimited transfers do we really need to skimp on the the 16 bits to add the 2 extra characters to COMPLETE THE ACRONYM!?!?

vic-k get your elbow out of my ribs. It is crowded enough under here as it is.

Mark, think “GNU-(t|n)-roff”. Which means g-roff. To cry is insufficient. WEEP.
Jaysen, I don’t know if you, i.e. our cousins across the pond, ever pronounce “get off”, meaning ‘leave me alone’, as “gerroff” … and yes, I did think precisely what you said. When I was first introduced to computers, back in the late '70s, the Polytechnic of Central London School of Languages, where I made their acquaintance, had a precise total of 3 BBC-B micros with a whopping 32Kb of memory each, but the only way I could write anything longer than 2000 characters was to use one as a terminal on a Unix server, and then run n-roff, cat-ing (I think!) the result to a printer attached to the BBC.
Not long after I moved on to vi on a VAX, running TeX and LaTeX.

Oh, and it was signinstranger who was weeping, not me! :slight_smile:

All so long ago!


Oh the gory, I mean glory days of computing!

I am just the young whipper snapper compared to some folks on this list.

If you want to keep things strictly ASCII-8bit or 7bit, definitely turn off all typing aides in Preferences:Typography. Compile also has some “downgrading” options in the “Text Options” tab, which will keep quotes straight and em dashes as double-hyphens, so on.

Other than that, all you really need to use is the Plain Text exporter. This will export a UTF-8/LF file, so if groff doesn’t like Unicode you’ll have to convert that externally. All internal formatting in Scrivener will be stripped out. I use this feature as a way of adding meta-data, myself. Since I don’t have to worry about stuff getting exported, I can bold text and highlighters to mark text during the working process. Once exported it will all be gone. Tabs and paragraph spacing, likewise. If groff is picky about leading tabs or needing a newline between paragraphs, you might want to turn off indenting and spacing in Preferences:Text Editing, otherwise a false indent might obscure an actual leading tab somewhere. I use MMD, myself, which uses tabs and spacing as syntax, so I’d rather know precisely what is indented and spaced a certain way, but I write in Optima 12pt. It doesn’t matter to the exporter, it will be plain text at the end of the project.

I thought that Scrivener was an OS/X product. Groff has always been distributed with OS/X (unlike Latex), so why is is unreasonable to use it with Scrivener?

I prefer groff because I’m an old fart. I actually learned roff and then nroff on V6 & V7 UNIX in grad school at Berkeley in the mid-1970s.

What I like about *roff is the use of pipelines/filters, the stock ones (pic, grap, tbl, eqn) and some other ones I’ve written myself over the years, in particular to insert & manage bibliographic references and statistical data. Like many other original Unix applications, and like plain text format itself, it is “programmer friendly”. For example, MMD -> groff -> PS/PDF/DVI looks very doable to me, assuming that MMD syntax is a known, stationary target.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions, I will give them a try.


I did in fact wonder if that might be a plausible route. To answer the latter, it is quite stable. New syntax gets added every once in a while, and only after careful consideration, but it never has historically created problems with existing syntax. MMD files also downgrade flawlessly to regular Markdown (which might open up your options for conversion to groff). You might find it doesn’t support all of the features you want, though. Generally, this doesn’t impinge on me because MMD has a very open Perl + XSLT architecture. I’ve only coded one Perl modification to add actual syntax. Most things can be done via creative use of XSLT. The XSLT scripts, if I remember right, are all GPL, but you’d want to verify that.

I posted this mainly to add abbreviations to Jaysen’s list.

Don’t think anyone is saying “don’t use groff” as much as praying to God (or deity or Rand or AmberV) that we don’t have to!

Thank you AmberV. Once I find all the pieces of my head and let the glue set I will re read that post.

Prove your worthiness and tell me what perl really means. You are on your honor not to use google.

Now that I think about this it is probably beneath you to even consider that a challenge.

You should meet my wife. She is one of the “Thumb Tribe”.

You know them. A person who can text faster than they can talk with one hand while driving, playing with the radio, and doing a u-turn. The ones who sit next to each other text instead of talking.



(smack fwap kapow ugh!!!)

I feel your pain and raise you a LOL

Trick question! :slight_smile: There isn’t an official expansion for Perl. Wall basically just chose it because it sounds cool and he originally wanted “pearl”. But for unofficial expansions, the people who use it call it the Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister (which, when applied to my Novel, is absolutely accurate), and the people who sell “integrated systems that leverage the power of open source technology”, I think they use the supposedly official Practical Extraction and Reporting Language.

I’ve been inspired to change my signature!

Blast you and your seeming infallibility! [size=70]<voice=“sean conery”> Yet I am very impressed[/size]

I shall take credit for this in my OWN sig update. HA!