How I Copy Paste from Word to Scrivener while preserving italics.

I don’t intend for to be a writing blog, but some things are too important not to share. So, the title says it all - this is how I am copy-pasting from MS Word, to Scrivener, on Windows 10, without losing my italics and such. Will it work for you and your workflow/manuscript? IDK. I’m not a Scrivener guru, more like a neophyte. I hope my process here will help other authors leap over this hurdle one way or the other.

So if you’ve ever tried to do this, then you know what a pain it is. Paste-Match-Style from MS Word to Scrivener will drop all italics and it’ll make all your quotes straight quotes. So you have the devil’s choice of manually transferring the word document OR all your precious formatting.

As I’m facing 220,000 words of copy editing right now this means I’ve been spending days alt-tabbing between Word and Scrivener manually applying accepted revisions. The whole book would have taken me about 60 hours to do at my old pace. (The silver lining is that I am learning a lot of grammar.)

Anyway, that’s not what you’re here for. This is what you’re here for…

Step 1

Make sure your MS Word file and your manuscript are as close a match as possible. For me that means both of them have body text styles set to Times New Roman in the 12pt size.

Step 2

If you have comments in the Word file—which I do since I’m handling copy edits—delete them. Well, resolve them, then delete them. Why? Cause they can be copied on accident and you’ll have to remove them by hand. IDK how to get around this. Perhaps turn them off in MS Word?

Step 3

Go to your Scrivener. (Remember I’m on windows 10. Scrivener Version: - 03 Oct 2018)

Select a body paragraph that’s very exemplary. Specifically, you want a paragraph that has the proper font, size, indentation, margins, and so on.

Now do Format->Formatting->New Preset From Selection. Here’s a screenshot with the settings I used to make this work. Err… I don’t know how to insert an image. WTH? Why is this not easy? Sigh. Ok, the settings are,

  • Save Paragraph Style

  • Include Font

  • Include Font Size

I named my new preset “MS Word Format Fix”

Step 4

Copy and paste your text from Word to Scrivener. Since I’m typically replacing text, I select the text (in Scriv) which I’m replacing and then I paste. That replaces your text with the MS Word version’s text.

Remember! Do a normal paste. We’re not matching style. Matching style will drop a lot of formatting and that is why you are here. Normal paste. It’ll look bad. That’s ok.

Step 5

Select the text you just pasted. Goto

Format->Formatting->Apply Preset->MS Word Format Fix (or whatever you named yours)

Presto! That should fix all the wonky and make it all look nice. Though there are a couple clean up details to manage.

Step 6

If you Word has -- instead of —, then you’ll have to do a find-replace-all to convert -- to — .

If you want “Smart Quotes” instead of "straight quotes", then you will need go to Format->Convert->Quotes to Smart Quotes. (Ctrl+ if you’re in a hurry).

Wrap up

So that’s my method. I hope it works for you or helps you figure out a solution of your own. There’s a good number of tasks, so I work in 10,000 word chunks to reduce the overhead of such. If you have to do this whole process one paragraph at a time, it’s not gonna be a time saver.

I’ve not tested this on any creative formatting as my manuscript is really simple—lots of bulk text and basic dialogue structure. So I’m not sure how it will fair against, say blockquotes or tables.

Good luck!

BTW, if you are new to my website, I mostly post short fiction and updates about my books. Please do me a solid and take a gander real quick before you go. Maybe you’ll find something you like ^_~. Thanks.