Is it possible to incorporate my own MS Word style into Scrivener? Or do I have to create a new style setting paragraph indentation and line spacing? I would much prefer to do the former because I haven’t yet worked out how to set paragraph indentation or line spacing in Scrivener. The rest of the stuff’s a doddle.
Anthony Davies

Hi Anthony, and welcome!

Scrivener doesn’t work with dynamic style sheets the way Word does, so if you’re referring to something like that, then no, you can’t exactly get that. But if it’s just that you want to use the same paragraph formatting style and such, the easiest way to do it is to save a Word document exhibiting the style as an RTF file, then import it into Scrivener. Most of the basic paragraph formatting and such (indent, font, spacing, color, etc.) should come along with it. In Scrivener’s editor, select a paragraph formatted the way you want.

You then have a few options. If you just want to apply this formatting occasionally to your text, choose Format>Formatting>New Preset from Selection. You can choose in the drop-down menu to save just the paragraph style (which would be the indentation, ruler tabs, spacing) and/or character attributes (so color, bold, italics, etc.) and then there are checkboxes for font and font size.

If you just want this to be your default formatting for all your new documents, open Scrivener>Preferences and go to the Formatting pane, then at the top select the “Use Current” button. The sample text in the pane will change to show the styling of the selected paragraph, and you can tweak it if you like there. This will change the default format globally, so all new documents and all new projects will use it. To convert old documents, select the documents in the project and choose Documents>Convert>Formatting to Default Text Style.

And finally, if you want this as the default text style just for this one project, choose Project>Text Preferences… and check the box to “override text formatting for this project” and then select the “Use Current” button. This is essentially the same as the option above, but instead of applying to the entire application it will only affect this specific project. As above, only new documents created will automatically have this new default, but you can convert older ones using the same Formatting to Default Text Style option.

One thing to note, Scrivener doesn’t fake italics and such the way that Word does, so if you ever use those attributes, make sure that the font you’re applying as a default has those variables (you can check just by using Cmd-T to bring up the font palette and looking at your font choice). If you apply a font, e.g. Lucida Grande, that doesn’t have italics and then convert older text to it, you’ll lose any italics you might have had.

There, that was rather long winded, but I hope it helped!

Just a short addendum: Keep in mind that once you are ready to compile your many chucks of a manuscript out of Scrivener for final touch-up in a word processor, or for direct publishing as an ebook, pdf, etc… the Compile settings can over-ride much of the formatting present in your individual project documents.

You could have all of chapter 1 formatted with indented paragraphs, and your font set to 18 points, and then in chapter 2, the paragraphs could have significant vertical spacing between them and no indents, with an entirely different font set at 10 points. But when you go to compile, you can make the entire project uniform (or not).

A lot of newcomers to Scrivener want to-- or even feel they have to --treat it as a traditional word processor, doing all of the formatting along with the composing of their text. Mostly, formatting can be ignored while you compose. You can even choose a better “screen font” that is nicer on the eyes, and the compile to a better “printed font” for the page.

Many thanks MM. I’ve had Scrivener for almost two years now but have never properly used it because visually it is so ugly. The slabs of text reminded me of the notes I use to make from the Patrilogia when I was in academia. These were plain indigestible until I gave them some aesthetic form either in longhand or on a computer. The aesthetics of the page can be as stimulating as the content. You’ve helped me a lot with creating a style I can use in Scrivener.
BUT is there an easier way to do this? Going to Word, saving a file as an RTF, returning to Scrivener and then importing this does seem a long way round.
I take the point about Lucida. I usually use Times Roman so I should be okay.
Thanks again
Anthony Davies


Funny, every time I open Scrivener, I think “Man, this totally reminds me of the Patrologia when I was in academia!” Glad I’m not the only one! Also, Keith, why isn’t Scrivener as good looking as Microsoft Word? Also, why do I want to punch the internet?

Keith: Many years ago, I learned the proper retort for this kind of criticism: It goes something like “SO’S YOUR FACE!”

Anthony: I’ll admit that my sophistication with regards to fonts and styles leaves a great deal to be desired (I still don’t see why comic sans is such a bad font), but have a care describing a man’s brain-child and livelihood so harshly (and so vaguely). On his own forums even! If this ugliness is about font choices, I can’t comment intelligently, but I would disagree strongly if you are talking about the entire user interface. But then one man’s “ugly” is another man’s “character.”

Keith: I admire your restraint. Good thing this wasn’t posted late on a Friday night.

robertdguthrie: Alternatively: “Oh yeah? Well yo mama’s so fat…” (Nice critique, also.)

AATD: I don’t go to your house and tell you how ugly your drapes are, and I hope you don’t go to your neighbor’s and do that. Though maybe you do. Yo’ mama didn’t teach you no manners.

Oh, you can do all of it directly in Scrivener, either in the sample text in the preferences setting or in the editor (which will give you more space and enable you to try out the formatting with your actual text) and then hitting the “Use Current” button like you did before. The import method I described was just because I was under the impression you had some fancy set up already going on in Word and that is pretty much the easiest way to get all that formatting into Scrivener (since you can’t really save the formatting out separately from Word and import that in). But sure, all the options are there in Scrivener. If you don’t see them, turn on Format>Show Format Bar and Format>Show Ruler, which will make all this styling much easier.

This is not the start of a flame war! If something is in the public domain - software, books, plays, films, or whatever - it is open to comment. Most of the criticism about my remark about the aesthetic appeal of Scrivener are just plain silly. Far healthier to echo Chaucer: Go litel bok. Scrivener is there and can take what is hurled at it. It stands on its own feet (and is growing).
All the best Anthony
PS The Patrologia remark was genuine!
PPS I still think Scrivener is visually ugly.

This has not even begun to be a flame war. What it has been is a gentle and humorous chiding to be polite, and to provide specific and constructive feedback if you’re going to criticize. That’s all.

P.S. Not that criticism of the interface is going to result in a big change… it’s been carefully thought out and people come to it specifically because of how functional and pretty it can be.
P.P.S. I also still think “SO’S YOUR FACE!” :wink:
P.P.P.S. The above is meant as a school-yard level, tongue-in-cheek rebuttal, and (obviously) not a critique of your actual appearance. A well-thought-out and politely stated opinion on a perceived short-coming of Scrivener is usually met with polite and thoughtful debate and explanation. Sometimes that results in a change that pleases the original critic and many other people who may not have noticed the short-coming, but notice the improvement when presented with it.

Scrivener 2.0 follows the aesthetics Apple has laid down, so I’m guessing you just don’t like regular Mac interfaces in general. I’ve always welcomed constructive feedback but such subjective and sweeping declamations are neither constructive nor helpful, so what is the point of making them here? It would be like walking into your local gallery and bellowing loudly in front of the artist about how poor his paintings were. If there’s something specific that you think needs tweaking, by all means point it out and we’ll consider it - “it’s visually ugly” is neither thoughtful nor insightful; instead you come across as “the smylere with a knyf under the cloke” (yes, this programmer has a Masters in medieval literature so back atcha).

But morally beautiful.