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Tech Tuesday: Clipping text to Scrivener 2.x

You probably know that you can import text documents and web pages into Scrivener, but what if you just want to copy a portion of the text. Or you’re browsing the file or site and don’t want to switch over to Scrivener to import?

Try Services. Once you’ve installed Scrivener and restarted it once, Services should be available to you from all compatible applications. (NOTE: If you don’t have Scrivener options under the Services menu, see the ** below.)

First, a couple of rules for clipping to Scrivener to work:

  • You must have at least one Scrivener project open.
  • You must have text selected in the current program (the one to clip from) before the Services will be available.

Add a Clipping to the Project

In this example, I chose to add a clipping (a reference-type file) from a Word document.

1. Make sure the Scrivener project you wish to add the clipping to is the active project in Scrivener.

2. Open the appropriate document in Word (or whatever program you desire).

3. Select the desired text to clip.

4. From the application menu (e.g. Word, Safari, TextEdit), choose Services, select Scrivener: Make New Clipping.

5. In the small pop-up window, type the name of the clipping as you want it to appear in the Binder. Click OK.

The clipping now appears at the bottom of your Binder in a new folder called Clippings.

At this point, you can leave the new file there, or move it to the desired folder. I use a Research or References folder.

Add a Clipping to the Active Text Document

Another handy option is to append selected text right into the file currently active in the Scrivener editor. In this example, I appended a piece from a website. The process is similar to making a clipping above with a few minor changes.

1. Make sure the Scrivener project and file to which you wish to append the clipping are active in Scrivener.

2. Open the appropriate file or web page to copy from (in this case, my blog in Safari).

3. Select the desired text to clip.

4. From the application menu (e.g. Word, Safari, TextEdit), choose Services. Select Scrivener: Append to Current Text.

5. In the small pop-up window, type the title of the clipping as you want it to appear in the file. (You can delete the header later.) Click OK.

The clipped text appears at the bottom of the active document, regardless of where the cursor was within the Editor pane.

Append to Current Notes

This is another option in Services. It works the same as above, but instead it adds the clipped text to the Document Notes for the active document in Scrivener.

Clipping Unformatted Text

If you want the clipped text to be unformatted, choose the unformatted options instead (see below to add them to your list).


Can’t find any or some of the Scrivener options in the Services menu? Try this…

1. Click the Apple button on the menu bar. Choose System Preferences…

2. Choose Keyboard (obvious, right?). 😉 Click the button for Keyboard Shortcuts.

3. In the left-hand column, choose Services.

4. In the right-hand column, scroll down until you see the Text header. Expand if necessary and scroll down until you see the Scrivener options in the list.

5. Check the box next to each service you want to have available.

6. Close System Preferences.

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

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  1. Curtis


    Thank you. The bonus round for me with your instructions. Once I highlighted a bit of text and pulled down “services” half the programs I use showed up in the list to include Scrivener. Research gathering at it’s high speed best.

  2. tolo


    Rather than have Scrivener open all the time, I like to send these to the “Make New Sticky Note” service and then import later after reviewing what I have.

    • Reply

      That’s also a good option, Tony. I tend to have Scrivener open all the time, and I’m often skimming for research while in the middle of writing (slap my hand, I know), so this works for me.

      BTW, I’ve been seeing the new buses everywhere. The Engineer gets annoyed because drivers still leave the engine running, even restarting after it automatically shuts off at the bus stop. Kind of defeats the point of hybrid and all that, right? 😉

  3. Curtis



    Thank you for suggesting Dwight Swain’s book.

    “Dwight’s gospel,” as you refer to it, is certainly that. He takes analyses of the novel to the micro level. If it is there he has thought about it, labeled it simply, and demonstrated how it works.

    It is a self validating guide. I found myself reading Dwight’s material (pub. 1965) while at the same time locating examples of his discussion in Laura Griffin’s Untraceable. ( Pub.2009) Yes, I had both books open and in front of me at the same time. 🙂 Once a student always a student.

    He clearly develops what has come to be called “the inciting incident” though he never uses those words.

    Yeah, I’m going to need another copy. This one is about as marked up as a book can be and be readable. Underlined. Notes in the margin. My own index. Reference to other books. A self validating guide.

  4. Reply

    I am a newbie and can’t seem to even import a file from either open office or microsoft works word processor. When I select the Import from File, none of the documents even show up. What can I do?

    • Reply

      Heidi: See if you can save the documents as RTF format before you try to import them. Most word processors either let you do a File–>Save As or a File–>Export to save a file as another file type. RTF or DOC are your best bets for keeping all your formatting. TXT will also work to at least get the text in. Hope that helps. 🙂

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