Select, copy and paste, with or without space?

The way that Scrivener handles spaces when selecting, copying and pasting is maybe super consistent, but it is also super annoying.
Double click on a word and it selects the word. Cut it and it takes it out leaving the spaces that surrounded it, meaning you have to have another key press to delete one.
Paste that word in between two words and you get what you asked for, but not what you wanted, the new word abuts one of the existing ones, meaning another key press to insert the missing space.
Whether we love it or hate it, Word is now the de facto word processor. Mimicking its behaviour will reduce the pain people may feel when adopting Scrivener.
Double click on a word in Word and you get the word and the following space. Paste it, either just before or just after the space between two words and you get the word inserted surrounded by exactly one space. Add it before punctuation and you get what you would expect; space, word, punctuation.
The fact that you had to add a menu item ‘Replace multiple spaces with a single space’ should have set off alarm bells that something was wrong. Guess what? Word does not need that menu item!
I know there are those that like to put two spaces after a full stop, but although that was a good thing when using a typewriter that had a monospaced font, it is unnecessary when a word processor puts an ‘m’ space after a full stop rather than the ‘n’ spaces between words.

P.S. Why oh why does a double click on a word include an adjacent double or single quote? How is that helpful?


That is still useful to fix double-spaces typos.

For the rest, I agree 100%.
As a matter of fact, I remember complaining about it myself (or asking for it to be fixed in the wish list) a couple months ago.

The actual behavior is in fact truly – and deeply – annoying.

P.S. Even the forum engine handles that properly.

On my windows tablet, I use the macros that I can set in my virtual keyboard.
So I programmed a sequence that goes like this:

  • select word (the word that my cursor is on)
  • cut word.
  • clear double spaces.

Then, the “paste” function I programmed:

  • insert space, paste word, insert space.
  • clear double spaces.

Downside: if I happen to move the word (or sequence of words) before a punctuation, well… I then have to manually remove the extra space before it.
(Worse case scenario, Antidote (my corrector), fixes it for me later on at some point.)

For another point of view, I absolutely loathe automatic space removal. I turn it off in all other applications if I can. When I highlight something, I want cut or delete to remove exactly what I highlighted, no more and no less. I don’t mind having to backspace over extra spaces; I’ve done it so long that it’s automatic.

In the Mac version, at least, this is an editing option, called “smart copy/paste”. Here’s how to access it through the Mac Scrivener Preferences Editor panel. Turn it on and those annoying (to you) spaces will disappear. (I assume there’s something similar in Windows Scrivener but have no way to tell.)


Wow, there are a lot of differences:

… and so there are! I assume that these differences are related to the fact that the Windows text engine and the Mac text engine are completely different.

Were I you, I’d search for “smart copy” in the Windows manual – maybe Lit&Lat have stuck it somewhere else in their options. Otherwise, I suspect that this feature falls into one of the following two categories:

  1. This is a difference between versions that hasn’t been implemented yet on Windows. Lit&Lat have stated that all differences between versions where Windows doesn’t have something that Mac has will be implemented in future Windows versions and need not be put on the Wish List… Except if…
  2. This is something that is impossible to implement on Windows, because of either the limitations of the third-party framework they use for text, or because of OS limitations.

Crossing my fingers for you that it’s item 1!

As I said, this forum handles spaces properly when editing a post. So…
(I’m running Windows10 and chrome.)

“Properly” is a matter of opinion… :wink: but yes it likely isn’t an OS limitation. Therefore, it’s likely either a framework limitation or already on the to-do list.

Yes, sorry. By “properly” I meant “the way I like it”.


Well perhaps ‘appropriate’ would be a better term, as in ‘the software operates in such a way that the user can achieve their aim with a minimum number of operations’.

Not if the “smart copy/paste” feature can’t be turned off. It’s not that I deliberately purge apps that don’t let me do that :wink: but I find ways of working that, golly gosh darn, just don’t happen to include an editor that forces me to use it.

And I’m sure you folks do the opposite. Different strokes, etc.

Absolutely, and it is important that any product takes that into account.
I am seriously interested to hear about an actual use case where Word’s behaviour is not what you need to achieve your aim. As far as I can tell it seems to hit the nail on the head.

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I don’t know that it’s a use case as such, but precision in on-screen (and earlier, on-paper) representation of writing is really important to me. A capital i must not look like a lower-case L, and neither should look like a numeral 1. A numeral 0 should be distinct from an upper case o. It’s so bad that I insisted my parents buy me an expensive portable typewriter in 1971 when I went off to college so that I could type Real Letters. (Cheap portables left off numerals 0 and 1, making the typist use upper case o and lower case L instead.) The obsession was only deepened by a 30+ year career in software development.

As a result, I do all my fiction writing in coding fonts. For years, I did it in coding editors as well. Scrivener Mac, of course, lets me use whatever font I like while writing, and lets me compile into documents that suit my audience’s font expectations.

Coding editors do not “smart copy/paste”. In some languages column position is important. In addition, lining things up vertically without aid of tables can be key to making code human-readable. In short, I find “smart copy/paste” to be an arrogance beyond belief. How dare an app assume that I want to delete a space I haven’t highlighted! If I want it deleted I’ll either (most likely) highlight it to begin with, or clean it up myself after.

(P.S. From the timeline above, I predate Word; I found it annoying from the beginning.)


Count me in on the do what I said crowd. In fact turning off “Smart” copy and paste is one of the first things I do whenever I can, along with disabling all the auto-capitalisation and other stuff. I generally want software to do exactly what I tell it to, and if that means leaving two spaces behind, then it’s because I didn’t select one of the spaces myself. That’s on me for not selecting what I wanted to actually cut.

As for why the Windows version doesn’t have the option (and it doesn’t), it’s because the engine has no such feature. On the Mac that’s just a thing that every text editor built using Mac development tools has. Our checkbox is just a front-end to switching it off. So that is a lot easier to add than actually inventing the whole system from the ground up for a text editor that doesn’t have it, and then adding a checkbox to turn off what we just invented.

(P.S. From the timeline above, I predate Word; I found it annoying from the beginning.)

That’s part of it, for me. When I was forced to use Word I always spent 45 minutes switching off all of the “helpful” things it did, because I was brought up on WordPerfect, WordStar and typewriters. You type what you need, Shift key and all.

Another thing though is that I spend a lot of time in text editors like Vim, VS Code and Obsidian. There is no culture of changing what you type as you type, or assuming you meant to select X,Y,Z when you actually didn’t. So for me, the way Scrivener works on Windows is the way I’m used to in every other program I use to type.

As for the forum working that way—does it? I don’t see that. What might be a point of confusion is that the forum uses Markdown, which ignores superfluous spaces. Try double-clicking a word and hitting Ctrl+X. I get two spaces left behind, which I can confirm by arrow keying through what is left behind, unless I properly drag left after double-clicking to include the space. Like I say, that there are two spaces left doesn’t really matter though.

And that’s maybe another reason why I don’t mind software being more literal. For me, two spaces in a row never matters one bit at all, because I use Markdown to write, which automatically cleans out all such input errors for me.

Yeah, as noted above that has everything to do with common mistakes made by typists rather than corrective software issues. The same command exists on the Mac, and it’s in the same exact vein as the one that deletes tabs in front of lines—tab “indenting” being another common data entry mistake.



→ Selected “forum” by a simple double-click ←


I know LibreOffice handles it the same. (Better actually; here, I had to drop the selection on the right side of the space already there between “that” and “way”. In LO, you just double click the word and it handles the space question completely on its own.)

That may be a browser-level thing rather than the website itself. I don’t see that behaviour:

As for the  working that forumway--does it?
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I think we are probably all ‘early adopters’ and if we want Scrivener to be really successful, it needs to appeal to the majority, who probably are not listening to this conversation.
However you feel about Word it is hugely popular.
I’ve still not seen an example of how Word’s handling of this issue in a particular circumstance, produces a result that is not what the user would have wanted. I suspect the user experience folks at Microsoft have sweated every detail of its behaviour ad nauseam. So why not use that work and remove a potential barrier for that majority of users we want to be using Scrivener?

Clarification: I was stating a technical description of why something isn’t the way it is in the present tense. We don’t have that option because we’d have to reinvent the whole mechanism beneath the checkbox, and haven’t, does not mean: we feel MS Word’s model is bad and that we shouldn’t do it, and that we don’t believe appealing to people who are used to it is important (but, evidently, only on the PC), so we’re never going to change this.

That completely aside, being “really successful” and “appealing to the majority” is not what we’re trying to do here, anyway. Scrivener is deliberately designed for those looking to do a lot more than what you get from Word,, or whatever. It is intentionally a bit unorthodox, and a bit more advanced. I’m pointing out that that is not a reason to add a feature. There are plenty of other good reasons, I think—such as it being appealing (or comfortable, is probably a better way of putting it; familiar) to plenty of advanced and intermediate users as well.


I often work with CAT tools (computer-aided translation), one being Trados Studio. When I select a word without trailing blanks, cut it and paste it elsewhere, the app always try to correct the blanks at source and target location so that

  • you don’t have two blanks following each other
  • you don’t have orphaned blanks before commas or other can insert just before other punctuation

I’d like to see an optional feature (as it could have negative impact on workflows as well) to get an “intelligent auto-correction for blanks” or whatever you might call it.