Preserve formatting when pasting text from MS Word

Is there a way to get Scrivener to recognize and preserve text formatting when copying and pasting text from an MS Word document? It seems to deal with font, size, and style just fine, but the text I am posting is all in list or outline formatting, and that is completely getting lost. It is just importing the bullet or numbers as just another character in the line of text. I have a very long MS Word document, and I only want to import several small sections of it into Scrivener. Alternatively, is there a better way to this with Scrivener than cutting and pasting?

Thank you for you help!

Well you can just drop the whole .doc/x file into your Binder. Scrivener will convert it internally to RTF and you should see a high level of formatting retention (especially if you have the Java converters enabled in the Import/Export preferences pane). Alternatively you could save the document to RTF from Word and then drop that into Scrivener, if you’d rather not use Java. Once you have the whole document imported, you can cut it up into pieces, or just snip out the parts you want into new items in the Binder. It would surely be easier to work with the document from within Scrivener, at that point, than switching between Word and Scrivener onward.

That all said, Copy & Paste should be working okay, what versions of Scrivener/Word/OS X are you using? Something that may help, that you occasionally may need to use when working with Word is to right-click in the list in Scrivener and choose “Re-number List” from the contextual menu.

Thank you! I imported the entire Word document, and it certainly looks better, but when I tried to edit some of the lists (adding a line or increasing/decreasing the indentation), it still did not seem to be recognizing them as lists or outlines. I tried the “Re-number list” option, and it converted it into a list, but it added another bullet to each list item, so that I would have to delete all of the redundant ones by hand. I’m using OS X 10.8.4, Word v. 14.3.6, and Scrivener v. 2.4.1.

Is there anything else I might try? In any case, thank you for the advice of importing the entire document first. That does simplify some other things.

Is this .doc file something you could send us? Or even just an excerpt from it that demonstrates the problem so I can play with it a bit on our end. If that’s fine, send a copy to our support e-mail with this thread URL in the e-mail so that whoever gets it can forward it to me.

If by outlines, you mean paragraphs which have been treated in Word’s outline mode, these will not be translated by Scrivener into Scrivener outline structure. That is because the two are fundamentally different things. Scriv outlines are hierarchical arrangements of documents (your Binder on steroids). Word outlines are specially tagged paragraphs which are treated hierarchically in Word’s outline mode. So, the (invisible) outline level tag on your paragraphs will be stripped when you bring them into Scriv (because, Scriv has no corresponding notion of within-document outlining to convert it to).

BUT nonetheless, if you set things up right, you can easily transfer Word outline structures to homestyle Scrivener in-document outline structures. There are two parts to my solution: A) setting up in-document outlining in Scriv, and B) getting Word-outline structured paragraphs into Scrivener with their structures intact. This is not hard, it just requires creating some style settings in both Scrivener and Word.

In Scriv, create a series of dummy paragraphs with increasing whole-paragraph indents, i.e. that have the look that you want your in-doc outline paragraphs to have. Be sure to also have a default format paragraph handy with no indent.

Take each of these paragraphs and create a paragraph-format-preserving preset. Give these suitable names, e.g. O1, O2, O3, … and, say, OD for the default format paragraph. (Word has 9 levels of indent, but maybe you don’t use that many.)

Now use Apple System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts to make key commands for these Scrivener paragraph styles. I like shift-cmd-1, shift-cmd-2, . . . Shift-cmd-0.

At this point you now have a fully functional homespun “in-doc outline mode” for scrivener.

The key to getting Word outline-structured paragraphs to retain their structure when arriving in scriv is to take advantage of the fact that scriv preserves basic paragraph format when you paste from Word or import a word doc. The trick here is to realize that outlines in Word have two different paragraph stylings. There is the hierarchical indent style you see when you look at the paragraph in Outline Mode. This styling is unique to Outline Mode and not controlled by you.

But these outline-level tagged paragraphs also have a standard paragraph style which you see when in Word’s Draft or Page Layout View. By default that style is unindented no matter the outline level of the paragraph. But we can change that and that is what you need to.

In Word, choose menu Format > Styles. In the resulting dialog box scroll to find the styles named Heading1, Heading2, etc. These are what determine what outline-leveled paras look like in Word when in Draft of Page Layout view. All you need to do is modify each of these style definitions to give each paragraph type a whole paragraph indent corresponding to its outline level and where the amount of the indent is the same as what you set up for that level in Scriv.

Having adjusted those style definitions, quit out of Word and, if it asks, say Yes to saving the changes to the Normal template.

So now you have everything you need. Just remember, if using Copy and Paste to transfer outline structured text from word, get out of Outline mode before you do the Copy operation and get into Draft or Page Layout view – that way we will nab the custom paragraph styling we need when the Copy happens.