If you’re a writer who has been writing for a bit, there’s a better than average chance you’ve been using a word processor like Microsoft Word as a writing tool. Switching to Scrivener (or any other writing platform) can feel daunting when you consider transferring what you have over to that new platform.
Heck, I started writing on an old manual typewriter. When I converted to one of the first electronic word processors (essentially an electronic typewriter with a monitor and floppy disc drive for storage), the idea of retyping everything was a huge barrier. (then I built my first PC box and eventually bought a copy of Word for DOS, then Windows and Word for Windows, etc. and so on.)
Before I get into the nitty gritty, just a quick personal history – I became less and less enamored with Word starting around 2006. I still used it, but I didn’t like it. As I moved back into the Mac world and away from PC, I still used Word, but found myself increasingly using Mac’s very simple Text Edit instead. It worked better with browsers and I was pushing stuff out on the blog a lot back then and copy/paste from Word tended to break things. Anyway, by the time I jumped onboard with Scrivener, I had a nice mix of Word and Text Edit files sitting on my HD.
I bought a MacBook Pro as my ‘dedicated writing machine’, installed Scrivener, did NOT install Word, and started playing around. To ‘import’ Word files, I would upload them to Google Docs, open them, select all, copy, open Scrivener, and paste.
This was, my friends, stupid.
Little did I realize, Scrivener natively imports Word and a slew of other formats – EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE PROGRAMS INSTALLED!
Yeah. Cool, right?
So. How do you import your Word Docs?
File > Import > Then Choose from the list:
When you click ‘Files’, you are presented with your normal Browse for a File window. Just navigate to your Word Doc and select it. When you do, you’ll see this warning that your file will be converted to RTF as it’s imported:
The thing to remember is that it isn’t changing your Word Doc – it’s just converting it into something that plays nice INSIDE of Scrivener – your original file remains untouched.
Once it’s done, your Word Doc is now available as a Scene or Text Document in your binder. In my example below, I imported it directly into my Chapter Folder so it became a scene inside that Chapter:
Once imported, you can do lots of things – the Doc is now part of your project. Anything you can do with a native Scene/piece of Text, you can do with this. Including breaking it up into Scenes, Chapters, etc.
In the above example, I changed the formatting to the default Project Formatting, then I used Command K to split the piece into 6 Scenes inside the Chapter (insert your mouse point where you want to split the text into a new Scene, then hold Command and hit K – now you’ve split the scene. Move to the next break and repeat to quickly split a long piece of text down into more manageable chunks.). I also moved my previous Scenes into a new Chapter 2 Folder.
Supported Formats Scrivener will Import:
- RTFD (rich text format directory) A proprietary Apple rich text format commonly used by Mac Cocoa applications.
- RTF (rich text format) The universal rich text standard.
- DOC & DOCX (Microsoft Word format).
- ODT (Open Document Text).
- TXT (plain text).
- FCF (Final Draft 5–7 File Converter Format).
- OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language).
- .indexcard (Index Card for iPad files).
- No extension. Documents with no extension get imported into Scrivener as plain text files (note that this can often be a source of confusion – if you try to import an RTF or DOC file that has no extension, when you import it into Scrivener you will see all of the raw code because it will be imported as plain text.).
- As well as these text file types, Scrivener also supports all of the main image file types (TIF, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP etc), all of the main QuickTime audio/visual formats (MOV, MPG, WAV, MP3 etc), PDF files, HTML, and .webarchive file types for importing saved web pages from Safari and other Mac applications that support it.
More Scrivener Tips coming (every Monday?)!
Don’t have Scrivener? You can try it free here (no, I don’t get paid for pointing you at them!).