How to Import a Microsoft Word Document Into Scrivener

My Experience

Maybe your writing experience shadows mine. You’ll recognize my story. I’d been writing for several years using Microsoft Word. Through trial and error, I finally had an average mastery of Bill Gates word processing program.

One weekend I attend a writer’s workshop. It seemed like every speaker and attendee were gushing over some software named Scrivener. Scrivener was like the handsome new boy who had transferred to your high school.

All the guys you knew for years no longer were as attractive. All your girlfriends were gushing over this Johnny-come-lately boy. One glance and you saw why they were going crazy. You also thought he’s out of my league.

Maybe like looking at the new boy you saw how attractive Scrivener looked. You also thought Scrivener was probably out of your league. It looked too hard. The learning curve looked too steep. You realized you already had your files in MS Word. You did not want to retype the manuscript.

Good News

You are smart. You are smarter than Scrivener. You do not have to retype a manuscript to get it into Scrivener. It is actually fairly straightforward to import an existing file from Word into Scrivener.

Importing is one of the first functions a new Scrivener should master. Here is how to do it.

Importing a Word Document

To import a Word document go to:


A new window will open.

Select the file you want to import into Scrivener.

Select open.

A window will pop open alerting you that your document will be converted to RTF as well as what the Draft folder supports.

This should be a problem as your draft will normally only be text without images.

Typical Scenario

You are writing or have written a novel in Word. You have all the chapters in one large file. You may or may not have your scenes separated by “breaks.”

What you want is to have all the scenes in the Word file broken down into several separate text files, a file for each scene. Instead of importing the entire document as one large file what you can do is use Scrivener’s Import and Split function.

How to Use Scrivener’s Import and Split Function

Go to the Word document.

For every scene/chapter break, you need to type in a separator symbol such as a hash mark (#) in the document.

Once you’re finished adding your separator symbol, save it, go to Scrivener and go to File=>Import=>Import and Split.

A window will open,

select your Word document

Make sure the separator is in the box, in this example a #.

If you separated each scene with three hash marks, the box needs to have three hash marks (###). If you used three * then you need three * in the box (***).

Hit okay

Like magic, your large Microsoft Word document now appears as several text files in the binder.

You then can move scenes and chapter around easily.

Remember, you can learn to import your existing Microsoft Word files into Scrivener. You are smart. You are smarter than Scrivener. There is no need to retype a manuscript to get it into Scrivener. Following the above checklist makes it straightforward to import an existing file from Word into Scrivener.

You are now ready to import and master one of the basic first functions a new Scrivener should learn.

Author: Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a full-time writer. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a career military father and stay at home mother. He lived in six states and attended eight different schools before graduating high school. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in English and Military Science from The University of Texas at Arlington, Master of Arts and Master of Religious Education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the Doctor of Education degree. Before writing full-time, he worked as a US Army officer for 10-years, religious educator for 18-years, and as an IT software application engineer for over 20-years. He is a widower. He lives in North Texas with his cat Lacey.