There’s a temptation when writing in Scrivener (or a word processor) to press the Return key twice at the end of a paragraph to give it that nice, visual break. Problem is, when you’re setting up your manuscript for submission or publication, those extra lines leave big gaps.
To avoid the temptation, make sure you set your default format to have at least 12 points after the paragraph. This setting is accessible under the Line Spacing drop-down in the format bar by clicking Other.
But that only helps you from here on out. Sure, you can clean up those extra lines in your word processor after compiling, but what if you’re trying to create an e-book?
If you’re currently stuck with a manuscript with an extra carriage return after each paragraph, here’s how to fix it.
1. To start, make sure you have the invisible characters showing. That’ll make it easier to ensure you don’t copy anything unintended. Turn them on by going to Format–>Options–>Show Invisibles.
2. Select two paragraph markers in a row within your text. Any two, it doesn’t matter, but make sure you don’t get any spaces or anything in there.
3. Copy your selection with Command+C (or Edit–>Copy).
4. Go to Edit–>Find–>Project Replace.
5. In the Replace text box, paste the paragraph symbols with Command+V (or Edit–>Paste).
6. In the With text box, paste the paragraph symbols again, but then press Delete on your keyboard once to remove one of them.
You’ve just set up Scrivener to find all double paragraph markers and replace them with a single paragraph marker.
7. Deselect all the check boxes except for Text so that you don’t affect anything else like Notes or Synopsis, as shown in the image below.
8. Click Replace.
It might take a few minutes if you have a lot of them to work through, but when you’re done, you’ll only have single paragraphs.
You’ll still want to make a quick run through your documents to make sure Scrivener didn’t miss any extra lines. A miss might happen if you inadvertently put a space or tab character on the blank line without realizing it. Those should show up since the non-printing characters are visible.
You can hide the invisible characters by going to Format–>Options–>Hide Invisibles.
Unfortunately, the Windows version of Project Replace isn’t (yet!) set up to handle paragraph returns (it will work for tabs though). However, there’s a nice solution in Compile.
1. Select a double paragraph return and copy it. (You might find it helpful to show invisibles with Format–>Options–>Show Invisibles).
2. Go to File–>Compile.
3. Set up everything as desired, then select the Replacements tab.
4. Click the + button at the bottom to add a line in the table.
5. Double-click the text box under the Replace column and use Ctrl+V to paste the paragraph returns (make sure you overwrite the word “Replace”. Nothing will show.
6. Double-click the With text box and paste again (overwriting or deleting “With”). Backspace once to remove one of the paragraph returns.
7. Click Compile.
If you don’t want to use the Compile option, or you just want to get rid of the extra returns, here’s my recommendation for a workaround. It’s not as elegant, but it’s still much faster than manually removing extra paragraph lines from a 90,000-word manuscript.
Let me know if you have another idea.
1. Compile your manuscript to RTF or DOC, making sure to include a custom separator for the Text Separator and the Text and Folder Separator, as shown below. This will ensure that Scrivener can divide your scenes up properly later. This setup assumes that you have chapter folders with text documents inside for your scenes.
2. Open the compiled RTF or DOC in Word and go to Edit—>Find—>Replace. In the top text box, use the drop down menu to choose Paragraph Mark, then copy the paragraph mark and paste it again so you have two (or type ^p).
3. In the bottom text box, use the drop down to select Paragraph Mark.
4. Click Replace All. When the replacement is complete, save and close the file.
5. Now, you’re ready to get the file back into Scrivener with the new-to-Windows Import & Split option. (NOTE: You must be using 1.5.3 or later to have Import & Split.)
6. In your Scrivener project, choose a folder where you want to import your scenes. These will be duplicates of the ones you already have, but without the extra spacing. You may want to move your old version of the documents out of the Manuscript (Draft) and then select Manuscript (Draft) as your import location.
7. Go to File—>Import—>Import and Split.
8. In the Import and Split window, click Browse to select the file you just changed in Word, and in the Sections Are Separated By text box, type the character you used as a separator.
9. Scrivener imports the file, dividing it into a new document every time it encounters the separator character.
You’ll have a little cleaning up to do, renaming the documents, regrouping them into folders, and getting rid of chapter titles and such within the text, but I still think it’s faster than going through every paragraph in your project if you have a long manuscript.
As mentioned in the Mac section, wou’ll still want to make a quick run through your documents to make sure Scrivener didn’t miss any extra lines. A miss might happen if you inadvertently put a space or tab character on the blank line without realizing it.