Working on a big book project

I’m currently working on a big book project on Scrivener. This includes a few quotes in Arabic (this works really well in Scrivener without the faffyness of many programs when trying to write in Arabic ). But I’ve only just realized that when I export a file containing Arabic quotes, they appear in the Word file as little squares. The rest of the file is fine. This is going to be a big problem for me by the time I finish the book (panic, panic)…
I’ve tried changing the font in Scrivener to another, hoping to strike lucky, but that hasn’t worked for me so far. I know this is specific question, but does anyone have an idea to solve this problem? I’m grateful for any pointers!

Hello and Welcome.

Have you created a character style called “Arabic”—which you would do well to have if you have Arabic inline in otherwise English text—or suitable Arabic paragraph styles?

If you’ve done that, then I think the problem is in your Compile Format which might be set to “Override Text and Notes Formatting”. If that is the case, you need to right-click—Ctrl-click—on the format in the left-hand pane, choose “Duplicate and Edit Format” and turn off the override.

If the Override is unticked, choose “Styles” in the left-hand pane and where you see ‘+v’ above the panel on the right, click on that and import the styles from your editor into the Compile Format. Give the format a name, decide whether to make it Project specific or available to all your projects and click “Save”.

One other word of advice: if you are compiling to DOCX, there are two routes: (1) in Preferences > Sharing > Conversion you can tick “Use Enhanced Converters …” in which case Scrivener passes its compiled RTF file to the third party Aspose Converter, which turns it into DOCX; (2) if you leave that turned off, then the converter/exporter used in v. 3.1.2 (I understand) is one that KB is developing and seems to work well, though still has some glitches.

But to me, by far the best thing to do is to compile to RTF—which is Scrivener’s native format and is done anyway if you use version 1 above at least—and open that in Word. RTF was created by Microsoft and all versions of Word read it perfectly. Save it from Word as DOCX, and the conversion is done by Word itself with no intermediate process involved.

I work with Chinese rather than Arabic and I use Nisus Writer Pro rather than Word, which I find totally unintuitive. In NWP, I have a macro that searches the document for any text in the UTF-8 ranges for Chinese and marks them as being in Chinese, making it easy to change fonts etc. as needed. I’m sure a similar thing could be done in Word for Arabic, though I haven’t the foggiest idea how.

Hope that helps.


Also, make sure you have the latest version of Scrivener, both now and whenever you’re ready to compile. The new DOCX converters are part of an ongoing effort to improve handling of Hebrew, Arabic, and other right-to-left languages.

Along those lines, please don’t hesitate to report any issues you have through our support system. We can’t fix something we don’t know about, and since we don’t speak Arabic, we’re not likely to stumble across such issues on our own.