The pain and suffering of Scrivener exports to Word

[Update 26 Feb 2018: This post was written about Scrivener 2 some years ago. It does not apply to Scrivener 3.]

As a writing tool, I love Scrivener. Unfortunately this comes with some hindrances:

  • Scrivener is not a standard format, so you have to compile and export anything you do to to anything with it.
  • Microsoft Word is a standard format in publishing—obviously people in publishing are a bunch of masochists—but Scrivener’s exports to Word are unstyled.
  • Scrivener’s exports to the .mobi format are barely adequate. Scrivener’s exports to the .epub format are famously incompatible with ebook retailers and need to be cleaned up.
  • Scrivener has no export to InDesign—perhaps to be expected, as InDesign can import Word docs.

What I’m realizing is that I’m going to have to use Scrivener for a first-draft tool only, and then export to Word and finish every work in Word. For someone who loathes Word, that’s a sad prospect.

But what’s more sad is that before I can get going on the Word doc, I have to go through and define all the Styles in the manuscript. And it’s not easy, because the process results in loss of tabs, loss of italicization, loss of any and every special style I defined in my Scrivener manuscript (e.g., styles for text messaging). I have to spend hours going through a novel-length document looking for words and sentences that should be italicized, sentences that should be styled as text messages, and so on.

This has me questioning my entire workflow.

Scrivener » Word (garbage) » Word (manual cleanup) » [final delivery formatting app]

And it’s a huge distraction from writing.

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Laura Lis Scott is a professional book designer and editor with over 25 years’ experience. She is publisher of Toot Sweet Ink, an independent press. She also provides book design and editing services for independent publishers and authors. You can check out Laura’s book design and editing work at Book Love Space.

As an author, Laura has written for BlogHer, MediaGirl, and corporate clients. She has ghostwritten four fiction books (novellas and novels). Her own fiction has been published in Story Seed Vault and by Toot Sweet Ink. She currently writes science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

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