The "tab" key and imported documents

Hello, everyone!

I am a long time writer who is new to Scrivener. I just downloaded it last week, and I am in love with the program so far. I can’t believe I’ve ever written without it. I’m also incredibly not technically savvy, and so whenever something small like this comes up I have no idea what to do:

So I imported my novel from Microsoft Word to Scrivener. When I write in Word, I hit the “tab” key every time I start a new paragraph. I’ve been told this is a habit I need to kick, but that was after I’d completed my first draft. In any case, every paragraph of my novel is preceded by a tab indent. When I imported my novel to Scrivener, I noticed that sometimes the paragraphs are preceded by an indent and many other times they aren’t. “Well that’s annoying,” I thought. “Oh well. I’ll just throw in the indentations as I’m editing.” So for the past few days I’ve been just hitting “tab” every time I find a paragraph without an indentation. It’s quite a lot of menial work, but I thought whatever I can do that.

So today, out of curiosity, I compiled my document into the standard manuscript format, just to see how the indentations reflected on the finished product. Lo and behold, the paragraphs that are not indented in my Editor are indented in the compilation, and the paragraphs that I hit “tab” on are double indented now. Even worse, many (but not all) of the paragraphs that were indented from my Word import (meaning that ones that I didn’t hit “tab” on in Scrivener but merely retained their indentations from Word) are double indented now, as well.

So now when I look at my manuscript in the Editor, some paragraphs have no indent and others are indented indent. When I look at my manuscript after it’s compiled, some paragraphs are indented and others are double indented. And there’s not even a direct correlation between the two! Is there any function or tool in Scrivener that will help me fix this? “Add/Delete All Indentation,” or something? Or do I simply have to go through all 115,000 words of my novel and delete every last indentation by hand?

Thanks for all the help, everyone! I am really loving this software so far, despite my personal complication.

Stefan Marmion

Thanks! Glad you like the software.

This is a common problem (along with double-spaces after periods), so there is indeed a handy tool for stripping out all beginning-of-line tabs. The Format/Convert/Strip Leading Tabs command is what you are looking for. That will work on a selection, or on the current contents of the editor entire, lacking a selection. This means you can click on the Draft folder, enable Scrivenings view (Cmd-1) and give it a few moments to collate all 115,000 words—once it’s done loading, run this command.

As with all massive and purely automated changes like this, I always recommend creating a quick backup with File/Back Up/Back Up To…, saving that to a convenient location such as your desktop, so you can roll back if anything goes wrong. Should be fine though, so long as you do not use tab at the beginning of the line for anything special, like a table somewhere.

Thanks so much! Did exactly what I wanted to. So relieved I don’t have to go through and manually do that. Thanks again!