Will the .rtf export cut & paste into e-mail

As many of you will know, submissions to agents, newspapers and the like … at least in the US … tend to warn that whatever you send needs to be in an e-mail, not an attachment. Further, the text MUST NOT (their capitals) be cut and pasted from a word processor like Word.

I THINK that if I export text out of Scrivener in .rtf, I can then use cut and paste into e-mail. Is that true?

Thanks. Not exactly a Scrivener question, but this is the place I expect I can find a group of people that has had to tussle with this problem.


As a non-published type, this baffles me. I’m going to second-guess you here, but I think that what they want is the same result as if you had composed your submission in your email client. Cutting and pasting most formatted text may cause whatever problems they’re trying to get you to avoid (control-codes instead of dashes or so-called “smart” quotes, for instance). As such, I would suggest that since almost all email clients speak HTML, you should compile for HTML and then open your submission in a browser, then copy and paste from there. Send it to yourself first, and read over the submission for any weird typographical problems, odd line breaks if you resize the email window, etc…

I could be WAY off base here, but then I’ve been under the impression that most agents/publishers seeking submissions would want a Word-compatible document, or a PDF, and never the text in an email. That’s a new one to file under my hat for when/if I ever get something suitable for human consumption.

Good luck with your submissions!

I look at roughly a thousand submissions a year, and I want to see, as an initial query from an unknown author, pasted-in plain text. Just export to a txt file, and then paste that in to the body of the email message.

Why plain text? Because formatted text from Word can come across with all sorts of formatting weirdness, depending on the platform.

On the other hand, I’ll read completed manuscripts only as attached .doc or .rtf files. Writers I often work with routinely send me attachments as first queries.

Most of the editors and agents I know run along these same lines, though of course it varies from agent to agent and from house to house.

Actually, copying and pasting directly from within Scrivener’s editor into your email client might be better than exporting first, especially if you are using a Mac email client such as Mail. This is because Scrivener uses the OS X text system, so the data it puts on the pasteboard will usually work very well with Mail.

Regarding Ahab’s suggestion of copying it in as plain text, you can get the same effect by copying from Scrivener and then using Edit > Paste and Match Style in Mail.app. This will paste the text in as plain text, exactly matching the Mail formatting. This will lose italics and bold and so on, though.

What I would do, in fact, is set up a formatting preset in Scrivener with the following formatting:

Helvetica 12pt
No ruler indents
No paragraph spacing

Then just apply this formatting preset to any text you are going to paste into Mail. This will result in text that is formatted perfectly for Mail.

All the best,

I knew there had to be an easier way to do it.

Fortunately, I don’t personally have to do it. But I like it when it gets done.

Not really. Opening a PDF or Word file takes time. Skimming through an email is much faster, especially if – as is the case for unsolicited submissions – you’re probably going to throw the email away.

Much also depends on the eventual output format, too. PDF and Word are great as destination formats, but no fun at all as input for a web editor or a commercial-grade page layout program. That’s much more of a consideration for magazines and newspapers, which have a lot more overhead per item than books.

And of course trumping all this is the unbreakable rule: give the editor what they want, no matter how misguided you think they are. If they want Comic Sans 14 in a WordPerfect file, that’s what you give them.


Keep in mind any editor that asks for “delivered by vic-k in protesting attire” needs serious help. You may want to reconsider that submission.

Thank you all. Very very helpful and much appreciated. Speaking of all the technological hoo-hah, isn’t it nice to have such a powerful writing tool as Scrivener!