Formatting with Word following Scrivener requires nerves of steel

Chapter One sample pageIT’S LATE, BUT I’M WINNING THE PAPER WAR!

Here I am, 2:20 A.M. the night before Thanksgiving (a holiday we celebrate by making homemade pizza, one per customer, exactly as required – and which will not be shared), having reached a good place in the battle to turn Scrivener’s .doc output into a pdf for a POD at CreateSpace, the next step in the publishing journey.

Software Tools determine workflow

I HAVE Scrivener, and I HAVE Word. I know how to use them, more or less, and I am still hooked on the general plan of keeping only ONE master file in Scrivener, and producing the various output formats from there WITHOUT changing anything but the front and back matter (ebooks generally get a shorter version, print books get the full glorious everything).

[That reminds me – don’t forget the ISBN – it has to go on the back cover and the Copyright page.]

Anyhoo, Scrivener, plus a tiny bit of assistance from TextWrangler and an epub unzip/zip Applescript (in my one-click method of producing epubs, which then get folded into mobi files by Amazon), was perfectly adequate, nay wonderful, for the ebook.

But print books are made of sterner stuff.

Scrivener is NOT a word-processor

It comes pretty darn close if you have a simple book, and will go straight to pdf if you want it to.

But, since it isn’t a word-processor, it won’t do widow and orphan control, and it won’t do hyphenation, and they tell you that right up front. Neither of these things were important for the ebook, which was lucky for me: I get to learn these things in stages.

But Scrivener produces the .doc file for Word to work on

And this is where my cunning methods came as close as I could manage to having Scrivener pass almost-finished work to the next stage of processing.

This is the stage at which the Compile pane shines.

Set up for .doc output, and then remember to save your changes (update the preset) every single time you put some work into the Compile selections, or you will remember I said this: the minute you finish a Compile, Scrivener forgets anything you didn’t save.

This ‘feature’ allows you to make a change and try it out with no effect beyond a new version of the exported file, but I don’t tend to make versions: I know what I want, and I keep twitching the little switches until I have what I want, and then I save and back that one up compulsively.

What choices do you make in Scrivener BEFORE compiling?

Every single one you can.

Fonts: if you want, as I did, Goudy Serial Xbold 24, for your book title, it is far easier to pick it in the Compile Formatting pane, than to go into a nice fresh Word doc and start from scratch, EVEN IF you remembered to create a Style to save that font selection.

Vertical spacing: if you look at the little editor pane that comes up in Formatting, you will notice that over on the right side there is a line-spacing widget on the ruler. That holds the key to making headers like mine with several parts (Kary, Sanctuary, 8 PM) look exactly the way you want them. Do NOT do vertical line spacing with returns! You are not a typist any more. Use your paragraph spacing, cleverly labeled ‘other.’ You will thank me.

Keep with: Another wonderful little doohickey. It’s under the Format>formatting tab in Scrivener, and, if you use it on both parts of the header, you are telling it to keep the header line with the date/time/place line, and that one with the first paragraph of the scene. Which entirely removes the problem of header separated from their subheading and/or text.

Margins, and facing pages: I tried doing this in Word. It bit me. It was much easier to set it up in Scrivener and pass it on. This is the dialogue in the Compile page setup. I’m using a left and right margin of 0.5″, PLUS .25″ for the gutter margin. The image below shows the way the page will be laid out if there is only one page, with the extra margin on the left; if you choose the ‘facing pages’ option, you will get the mirror page on the left, with the extra gutter margin on its right.

Gutter margin setupThis is backward in my mind, but that’s how it works. YOU don’t do that part, Scrivener does after you check ‘facing pages.’ Which means in a standard book, you create the right hand side page of a two-page spread BEFORE the left hand page.

The page at the top of this post IS a right hand page. If you look, you can see the gutter margin extra space on its LEFT side. I prefer all my chapter to start on the right – I think it looks nicer, even though it wastes a few pages where you need a blank page on the left.

Table of contents: to do that in Word, you have to select each piece you want to be in it (front matter, chapter headings), apply a heading Style, and then use Word’s elaborate setup. Or you can use Scrivener, get the Binder to look the way you want the ToC to look, Copy Special (as ToC), and paste it where you want it. Then, as you compile, somewhere between the two programs they put the page numbers in. If you do it that way, you may have to update page numbers manually; and Word will fight you like a possessed man for control, but that’s what delete buttons are for. And Undo. Scrivener was easier. Neither was easy. I have one.

Justification: left, right, ragged, justified – but not right indent. Sigh. After the ebooks wouldn’t, I was hoping Scrivener could pass a right indent on to Word. Nope. So I generated a Style in Word which will indent anything I apply it to equally on BOTH sides, and that is now done.

Paper size and pdf size: Scrivener for the win. Once set up though, Word keeps trying to put you back on 8.5 x 11 paper; keep and eye on it when you create your 6 x 9 pdf.

Choices to make in Word

Formatting of headers and footers beyond the basics you get from Scrivener with the content and the page numbers; restart at number 1 on the first page of the story.

I also formatted the footers with a paragraph style which put a few points of space above them – otherwise it looked as if the text were sitting on the footer. Ditto for the headers: 4 pts of space after the paragraph with the name of the book and the chapter on alternating sides – and it didn’t look as if the header was sitting on the text.

Sections: I wanted my prologue AND my chapters, my Title page, and my Part page (Book 1 of the trilogy), to be right hand pages; I put my cursor on each page, chose Format Document, selected ‘odd page’ for them, and let it apply just to the section. Voila – everything tidy on the right, and the gutter margins in the right places.

Widows and orphans: Finally – Word does a magnificent job on its own (though, as you would suppose, it is hard to handle a lot of short paragraphs – dialogue – and not end up with parts of paragraphs: a 3 line paragraph at the end of a page can end up with two of its lines on one page, and the other on the next. If you REALLY want to keep lines together, you will have to do manual control with Keep together, or use my backup trick: there are 8 lines of padding at the beginning of each chapter (from the top of the page to the first line), but it one goes missing or I add one, you’d never know.

Right indent/margin: I WILL have my epigraphs indented on both sides, or die trying! They just LOOK wrong indented only on one side.

FONTS: There’s a reason God invented fonts. Because sometimes you just need to make things stand out, such as your name at the bottom of the title page, or the chapter title. These are aesthetic choices, and if you are designing your own interior, you get to make them. I hope it’s not a horror show when I get the proof copy back. My one little excursion into the fun of fonts is the Prothalamion/prologue, which I had great fun making look like The New Yorker at quick glance.

I’ve gotten far enough to have solved all the problems

Good for the brain, and slow with brain fog.

Front matter, back matter, the prologue, title, and part pages – and ONE chapter complete with headers and footers, and my methods are done.

All I have to do is finish the remaining 19 chapters, update the page numbers for the chapters in the table of contents, check everything – and upload.

Methodology is hard – this part is just work. And it shall be done soon, and I can go back to writing, with the paper version of Pride’s Children sitting on Amazon’s shelves.

By the way – all this fuss, and it doesn’t look that different from the ebook. Sigh.

Now aren’t you glad you asked?



8 thoughts on “Formatting with Word following Scrivener requires nerves of steel

  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    Alicia, your process looks fantastic. Awesome the way you’ve made Scrivener and Word between them deliver exactly what you want.

    Word of warning: CreateSpace books have very tight bindings. CS presents .75″ as adequate for the gutter margins of a 501 pp – 700 pp book, but I find that to be too narrow, with the text disappearing down the curving valley of the page.

    My own Troll-magic is 438 pages. Fate’s Door is 460 pages. I used .9167″ for the gutter margins of both, and I feel that it is just barely enough.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thank you!

      This incarnation has 465 pages, with about .5 on the top, bottom, and outside, and 0.75 gutter margin. I say ‘about’ because the header and footer text is in the space, with a few points between header and text, etc.. I have to see it printed.

      I will take that gutter margin up to .925. Word took it and executed the command flawlessly from what I can see. But I can tell that the pages have been affected – it goes another almost full page in the first chapter. Twenty pages worth of 0.2″ = about a page.

      How big are your outer margins? There is a lot of room on a page; I’m using a generous Cambria 12 as my basic choice here, with the epigraphs in 11 pt.

      I still have to do the whole print-it-out and compare, by sticking it in a book (I have one that is perfect), to reality. Might as well go for the more generous gutter right away, and save unnecessary proof rounds, unless it really is tight on pages. It all matters – and I’m sensitized to the visual effect.

      I have yet to see what it will cost to produce, and therefore how much I should charge, but those are simple things compared with making all the decisions about layout and fonts and ‘look.’

      I appreciate your guidance, as always.


      1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

        I used the same design parameters for both Troll-magic and Fate’s Door.

        Here are the stats:

        Top margin – .9167″
        Bottom margin – .58″
        Inside (gutter) margin – .9167″
        Outside margin – .5″

        Headers with page numbers and book title (right folio) or author byline (left folio) sit at the top center of each page. The baseline for those headers sits at .65″ from the top edge of the page.

        Font – Palatino
        Font size (body text) – 9.8 pt
        Leading (line spacing) – 15 pt
        First line indent – .3″

        Header font size – 8 pt over 9.5 pt leading
        Chapter font size – 14 pt over 15 pt leading

        Glad to hear that you’ve found the perfect book with which to compare your print out. I found that to be super helpful in guiding my design choices.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Thank you. Having actual numbers to compare to is great. I notice you used .5 for the outside, so I don’t feel that’s inadequate on mine.

          And I sent and made it .925 gutter margin – that should be adequate, then. It’s 477 pages at this size (probably a few more since I have only done the extra spacing in the chapter 1 headers. So give or take a few more pages, depending on any small adjustments to widows and orphans.

          And then the cover, and off my list.

          And of course 9.8 Palatino and Cambria 12 could be the same size – honestly, I think they’re just series numbers. I’ll see.

          Need to get back to work – the family needed me to make their homemade pizzas. Which were delicious. But it slowed me down.



        2. J.M. Ney-Grimm

          And of course 9.8 Palatino and Cambria 12 could be the same size…

          Indeed, yes. Point sizes varying wildly across different fonts. Wildly. That’s one of the reasons why it is so important to find and use a good prototype. Numbers alone are not enough.


  2. Liz

    Good luck, Alicia! I used Scrivener to compile the ebook versions for my latest novel and then hit a snag with the compiling for Createspace. I had so many results with varying page numbers it drove me nuts.

    So I just went back to the old staple – Pressbooks and voila! with their 50% off sale, I had the paperback format done and dusted. I’m back using Ulysses 3.0 for now for less years off my life from the headaches of compiling. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I tend to be VERY determined: if a program can do something, darn it, it’s going to do it.

      I bump my head on some places, but so far, so good – we’ll all judge the results. Darn standards, though. If not ‘good enough,’ back to the drawing board.

      It all clicked last night; I saw how to do – and did – all the things I wanted; I posted (blabbermouth me).

      And today it is all looking quite acceptable: I just wrestled the final drop cap (I have ONE in the book, yep, on that fake New Yorker article) into place.

      I’m almost done beautifying the chapter beginnings.

      Next on the list is the headers and footers. They are going to look the way I want them, or else. I’ve done a test run – it worked.

      And then the extended cover, and I’m in business, and back to writing.

      It’s been fun, took too long, and gave me most of what I wanted, so I’m good with the process, and didn’t have to acquire or learn InDesign or Photoshop, my goals.

      Liked by 1 person


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