How to Import Word Comments into Scrivener

Photo credit: MIKI Yoshihito (´・ω・) on Flickr
UPDATE: I have since learned (thanks to a commenter and some experimenting) that you can skip ALL of this and just copy and paste. Who knew? Clearly not I. Happy Scrivener-ing!

Up until basically last week, I was under the impression that it was impossible to auto-import CP comments from Word into Scrivener. And so, I would sit for hours, importing CP comments by hand—that is, retyping them into Scrivener.

When I received my CP comments for the latest WIP, however, I knew there was no way I’d be able to do that this time. Because there were over 1,300 of them. (Yeah.)

So I had a choice: either edit entirely in Word (which, I mean, was an option, but not my favorite one), or spend a ridiculous amount of time importing by hand, which I’d pretty much already decided wouldn’t be worth it.

Or was there another choice?

After doing some internet scouring, I came across this post on importing documents from Word into Scrivener. I’d seen the post before, and already knew the process described in the post didn’t import comments, but this time my Google search directed me into the comments on the post…where I found my answer: RTF files.

After some playing around, I managed to figure it out with a little help from the post. And so here's the process I used:

  1. Open all documents containing CP notes in Microsoft Word. For me, that was three documents this time. The reason you need to open everything in Word first, is before you import to Scrivener, you need to merge all of your documents with CP notes into one Word doc. Which is a thing! A very useful thing. Anyway...

  2. Go to Tools > Track Changes > Compare Documents.

  3. Choose two of your documents. You will now see this menu:

    If you want to attempt to preserve the tracked changes your CPs suggested, then choose the document with the most tracked changes as “Original document.” I will say, however, this attempt to preserve tracked changes is somewhat futile as it gets messed up when you import to Scrivener anyway. So up to you. 

  4. Click “OK” and save your new document. Word creates a completely new document now with the comments from both of the documents you just “compared.” Save this document, then repeat this process as many times as you need (using your new merged document with the next one you want to merge with). 

  5. Save your final document as an RTF. Once you have your brand new, shiny document with all of your CP comments in one place, save your file as an RTF. This is what you’ll be importing into Scrivener.

  6. Open your project in Scrivener. Self-explanatory. 

  7. Go to File > Import > Files…

    And choose your new RTF file. This will bring in your newly merged document into Scrivener, with all comments intact. YAY! 

Some caveats:

  • You will have to redistribute your chapters or scenes into separate Scrivener scenes again. When you initially import, it’ll all be in one ginormous Scrivener scene, so you’ll have to reorganize however you had it before you compiled it into a Word document. This is a little annoying, but relatively easy and totally worth it, IMO. 

  • Tracked changes will be a mess. So this is a more significant downside—you’re going to lose a lot of the tracked changes your CPs suggested, both because they get messed up in the Word merge, and because Scrivener doesn’t recognize tracked changes. Instead, Scrivener will automatically try to implement the tracked changes that remained intact in the merged document, which is a bit of a headache because it doesn’t implement it correctly and it’s not marked, so you kind of just have to catch them.

    I didn’t know that when I imported, so I suspect I’ll be catching them for a while. I think, however, if you go through your Word document and fix all the tracked changes there before you import into Scrivener (and, even better—before you merge the documents in Word), this shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll be doing that in the future. 

  • All of your comments will be imported as if they came from the same person. As in, they’ll all be the same color. Which isn’t a big deal to me. I plan to color code mine differently once I’ve brought my comment count down to a manageable number. 

  • If two (or more) CPs comment on the same line their comments will be merged. You’ll be able to tell, because there won’t be a space between the end of CP 1’s comment and the beginning of CP 2’s comment. I actually don’t mind this—it lets me see multiple opinions in one CP box, and it’s I found it pretty fun when all three of my CPs commented on the same thing. 

So that’s it! I hope this saves you some time in getting Word comments into Scrivener. I know I, for one, will never be manually importing comments again.

Twitter-sized bites: 
Ever wonder how to get Word comments into Scrivener? Writer @Ava_Jae share the process she uses to do just that. (Click to tweet)  
Did you know you can import Word comments into Scrivener? Writer @Ava_Jae explains one method of doing so. (Click to tweet


Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome! To say that I was pleased when I figured this out last week is an understatement. lol

Darth Lolita said...

Oh wow o.o this is really useful.

And I say that as someone who hasn't transitioned into Scrivener yet o_e I keep meaning to do it, but I'm usually too poor to buy it and I keep missing the NaNo discount. Maybe next year xD.

I'll be sure to refer back to this then~

Linda Strawn said...

This will come in handy for importing Word Docs period. What I do now is revise my Word Doc each time I get feedback from a CP. Then I cut and paste it into Scrivener. In the process, the font reverts to something wacky, so I have to change it. Following the procedure you posted will save me a lot of time and work. Thanks!

Ava Jae said...

You mean this NaNo, right? :)

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome! I hope this streamlines the process for you!

Melissa Menten said...

Just curious, are you using Scrivener on a windows or Mac platform? I've thought about getting it, but have been scared off by the criticism it's mainly for a Mac platform.

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