Word files corrupted with Compile Manuscript

I have a 75K MS Word novel I’m about 3/4ths done with. I decided to try out scrivener with it to see if I like the program. It seemed like a great organizational tool. I imported the document fine (lost some formatting, but ok), split things up into 12-15 documents and folders in scrivener, and then wanted to test that this worked to recreate my Word document. I used Compile Manuscript, and a file was created. However, MS Word is just unable to handle it. It loads and hangs, or loads and shows only half the document and then hangs. Once it even said Word did not have enough memory for the file (it’s only text).

I’m running Leopard, MS Word X, Scrivener 1.11 on a MacBook Pro.

The one thing scrivener would have to do in order for me to use to seriously would be to never, ever screwup the files. I can’t risk losing months of work at some point if the program can’t covert to a standard format. With word I’m so paranoid I send each days output to a mail account leaving an off computer backup. This is a nightmare!

Any ideas on this?

Update: I managed to get it to write out a file word could handle. I had to undo some formatting I had done. I wanted centered large text like the title page, so I copied the text elements from the title page and inserted them in several places (the novel is divided by months). When I removed the spacing in front of the month title for each section, the word document could be read by word.

This is still fairly unsettling. It tells me that I have to be very careful what I do formatting wise in Scrivener or I could get really problematic word file conversions.

I can see why this might bother you, but for my part, I just don’t care to write an ms in the format in which it must eventually be delivered to a publisher: i.e., Courier, double-spaced, with wide margins. I wrote my book in Scrivener using the formatting I prefer. Then, when finished, I exported the separate chapters as Word docs, created a standard ms style and applied it to each one. The chapters can then be easily “glued” together into a large document to deliver to the publisher, while retaining individual pieces that are relatively small is a precaution against something a few others in these forums have warned about: corruption of large text files by Word itself. All in all, if you don’t include the final spell check, it took me about a half hour to put together a Word ms from my Scrivener exports.

For my use of Scrivener in writing research papers, I’d waste quite a bit of time if I exported everything Courier, double-spaced, with wide margins as suggested by the previous poster. However, I think I’ve really torture tested Scrivener with regard to Word formatting. I have fairly carefully constructed title pages (based on the final product of previous drafts) and they always turn out the same–other than a few fundamental differences in the spacing/typography model between the Cocoa text system and Word. I can’t recall a document compiled by Scrivener that would crash Word 2004, Nisus, or Mellel.

As I recall, Word X had quite a few stability problems; have you tried creating the title page you want, compiling, and finding a copy of Word 2004 or opening it on a PC version of Word, to see if this is a quirk of an earlier version of Word?

Thanks for the replies. I’m not upset that I can’t have all the formating pre-Word. I can live with that to a large degree. It’s not knowing what problems might arise that could lead to files I can’t work with. I guess if I am “safe” in Scrivener, I’ll be ok, but I worry I’ll do something I think is safe and it won’t be. A bad way to start with the first thing one does leading to problems. Word X vs Word 2004 - I have one at home and one at work. Honestly, they each seem to have different stability issues. MS has never really done a decent job of porting to Mac. I use Keynote exclusively now for talks. PowerPoint on Mac was a nightmare.

The rtf output was ok, so that is a route perhaps to go with, Scrivener to rtf, rtf to Word, if things get problematic.


I’m sorry you are having problems. I have to say that this is the first time I have ever heard of a document exported from Scrivener not working in Word properly. I have never owned Word X, though - only 2004 and 2008. It’s worth noting that the files exported from Scrivener as .doc files are really disguised RTF files, though - I wonder if this might be causing the problem? This shouldn’t be an issue, as this should be legitimate, but I do wonder. At any rates, the next update exports using the true .doc format for documents that don’t include footnotes or images, and only uses the disguised .rtf format for documents with images and footnotes (which aren’t supported by the standard OS X .doc exporter).

Could you open this document in Word 2004? It is worth noting that Scrivener supports many formats, not just .doc, and .rtf is often the best format for going between Word and other programs anyway.

If you can send me a file that crashes or hangs in Word, that would be very helpful as it would allow me to look into it.

All the best,

Hi Keith,

OK, I am traveling, but will look into this tomorrow. I may have deleted the problematic files, but I think I should be able to reproduce the error. Where should I email files?


support AT literatureandlatte DOT com. As I say, I don’t have Word X, but at least I can see if this error occurs on 2008.