Scrivener and OneNote

I’m an extremely new user of Scrivener (like, today), and an extremely old user of MS’s OneNote, of which I am a non-fan. I write books and magazine articles, and so I need the ability to make random notes, work them into outlines, collect research materials from all over (mostly PDFs nowadays), edit my results, and turn it all into fantastically beautiful nonfiction. Does anyone else on this list have experience with moving material from OneNote into Scrivener, and, if so, can you please share a few tips? In my first effort at copying-and-pasting a page from OneNote into Scrivener, I was unable to edit the stuff once it got into Scrivener. Thanks. It’s a great program, and I’m looking forward to replacing OneNote quickly with it.
–Fred Powledge.

Are you able to edit the same clippings in One Note? I’ve only used OneNote occasionally, but if you grab a clipping using the windows key and S, I see that it saves it as a .png (ie graphic) file - and I’m wondering if this might be the cause of the problem?

Thanks for the response. For some reason, when I returned to my test paste from OneNote, I was able to edit it–add to it, cut, etc. I have no idea why it didn’t before but does now, but this gives me some hope that I will be able to move copious amounts of stuff from my OneNote project into Scrivener. I do think, as you suggested, that success has a lot to do with the format in which you bring material over from OneNote. Thanks again.
–Fred Powledge

I use one note as my research bible for the three series I am currently writing.

I know you can save the notebook as a .pdf but I don’t know if you will be able to import it and edit in Scriv.

I’ve been using the beta scriv since January and I’ve found that it works great - make that GREAT!!! - for the writing but I haven’t used the research part much because I use onenote.

You can import PDFs into Scrivener, but they’re not editable there. I’m afraid I don’t have OneNote, so I don’t have a lot to offer here. Is there any ability to save your text in other formats like RTF? That would be the best; you could import that into Scrivener then and edit it. I’m not sure how the copy/paste works from OneNote to other programs but I do have it noted down for Lee from someone else’s bug report that it pastes into Scrivener as an image, which isn’t particularly useful, so presumably if OneNote has options on the clipboard for how to paste, Lee will in future be able to adjust Scrivener to take the text rather than the image.

Okay: I started this mess, so I thought I had an obligation to help solve it. I did some experimentation and came up with this:

–If you copy your material in OneNote (select, Control C in Win) and then paste (Control V) it into a Scrivener Binder item, it acts like a PDF even if it didn’t come from a PDF. You can’t tinker with it in Scrivener; can’t add text, highlight it, nothin’. And the resulting display looks a little blurry.

–If you copy your material in OneNote (select, Control C in Win), go over to Scrivener, and paste it into a Binder item using the “Paste and match style” option, you get an editable piece of copy. It is in whatever you had chosen for Scrivener’s native typeface; it lacks the frills that OneNote puts into it, which is fine with me.

I suggest that this opens up potential doors for serious Scrivener writers who need and keep vast gobs of text and notes on hand, but not necessarily in a clear, clean program such as Scrivener. OneNote is perfect for sloppy datapackratting–at least until the moment when you need to make sense out of all the stuff you’ve collected. At that point, I am learning with its beta version, Scrivener comes in with the perfect solution. Well, almost perfect.

Sorry to run on like this, but I think this copy-and-paste ability makes Scrivener much more valuable and OneNote much less–how shall I say it? Microsoftish. If writers on this list aren’t familiar with OneNote, I strongly recommend it. You are all students, aren’t you, and entitled to the student price?
–Fred Powledge

Glad you’ve got something working for you! I just downloaded OneNote to take a look–it does have an option to save as .doc, so another option might be to save your pages in that format and then import it into Scrivener–I’m assuming if you have OneNote you also have Word installed, so you’ll be able to import .doc and have it convert so that it’s editable in Scrivener. You can also use cut and paste with an intermediate step, pasting into Word and from there into Scrivener; this preserves your formatting, which PaMS doesn’t. Obviously if you don’t need that, though, PaMS is the fasted.

Those dissatisfied with OneNote might check out Evernote. I’ve used the free version for over a year and find it works as well as anything for gathering miscellaneous information; its copies of web pages come off better than anything else I’ve worked with. And it can be accessed online from your computer or phone.

It doesn’t have the two-ton feel of OneNote, which I really thought might be an answer when it came out but which has consistently discouraged me with its corporate feel–something hard to describe but easy enough to experience; and, of course, your mileage may vary.


Tom, how do you move things from Evernote to Scrivener? Or do you? I’d love to be able to sort and tag and annotate ton of research files in Evernote (along with a collaborator) and then move select items into Scrivener as needed, complete with highlights and comments in pdfs, for example.

I cannot figure out how to do this from Evernote. I can move them from other folders. But those don’t include the updated/scribbled on copies that I have in Evernote. I wouldn’t need the tags to import necessarily, but I’d really like to be able to pull in a pdf that has highlighting or comments in it and work with those.

Another issue is that my highlights in pdfs (from anywhere) are just yellow blobs when opened within scriv, but readable when opened with an outside editor.

Regarding the highlights in PDFs, I’m afraid that’s a bug with the PDF reader Scrivener’s using at the moment; it doesn’t seem to interpret highlight layers properly so it puts the highlight color over the text instead of behind it. If you can use a semi-transparent highlight, that helps a bit, although you’re still reading the text through the highlight color so it’s far from ideal. Until Lee gets this sorted, you’re probably best off using the Open in External Editor option (either from Documents>Open or by clicking the icon in the right of the editor footer when the PDF is loaded) to just load your PDF in your default reader.

I’ve been using the Scrivener for Windows beta for a couple weeks now. Though some times the current bugs make me look to the skies at yell “!@#$%” I like it enough that I’m eagerly awaiting its formal release so I can purchase it! It’s a very intuitive piece of software for the writing process, and I think I can find a number of ways to put it to work.

I do use OneNote heavily in my vocational life - and it is a (good) dream come true for keeping track of meetings, minutes, and such! That said, I’ve discovered its limitations in cataloging and tracking research don’t flow as well as I’d like. So… hello, Scrivener! I’m learning how to hook Zotero into the works, which holds much promise.


I too used to use OneNote; mainly for poetry - Nano 2010 cured me of that ! .

Scrivener is better in many ways, though I miss the ability in OneNote to:-

a) have bits of text here and there on the window, like post-it notes,
b) (mostly) the sync, as I write on both a PC and laptop as mood and location take me…

For pasting text from OneNote; My method is to Copy text within the ‘boxes’ and then using Scrivener Edit>“paste&match style” the text pastes in perfectly.

It’s only with ‘normal’ Scrivener “paste” that text appears as blurry pdf !