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Using styles in Storyist and Word


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Using Styles in Storyist and Word
In this post RobertS asked about transferring a file from Storyist to Word for editing and back into Storyist. The best way to do this is to set up Word to match the formatting that Storyist applies automatically. That way, you need to engage in a minimal amount of intervention. Not doing so, in addition to making busy work, is likely to result in the loss of italics and other specialized formatting.

Here is a quick recap of what styles are and how to make use of them during file export and import. This discussion assumes you are writing a novel, as screenplays have different styles in Storyist and are more often exported to Final Draft, not to Word. The basic process, however, is the same.

What Are Styles?
Styles are collections of formatting instructions that ensure a consistent look for your chapter title headings, body text, section separators, and other parts of your manuscript. Styles typically come in two types: paragraph styles, which govern the font, font size, text alignment, and other formatting for entire paragraphs; and character styles, which apply to individual chunks of text within paragraphs. Here I am discussing paragraph styles.

A typical Body Text paragraph style might be Times New Roman Regular 12 pt., double-spaced, left aligned, first line indented 0.5”.

Styles in Storyist
If you open a new file based on Novel in Storyist, you get a template that includes “My Manuscript,” a short discussion of standard file formatting for submission to an editor or a publisher. Look at the top of the screen, and you will see the words “Section Text.” Hover over those words, and you will see double arrows. That is the Storyist style list (also available by clicking on the Format Menu and choosing Style). In Storyist, but not in Word, styles also determine how your manuscript outline appears in the Project View: they organize your manuscript, so you need to use them to ensure that your text works the way you want it to.

The typical Storyist manuscript uses three styles: Chapter Title, Section Text (which corresponds to Body Text), and Section Separator, the # character centered on a line by itself, which Storyist reads as ending one section and beginning a new one.

These styles are predefined for you. If you would like to change one, triple-click on a paragraph that has no additional formatting, use the Inspector change the font, alignment, indent, spacing, etc., to get the results you want, then choose Format > Style > Redefine Style from Selection. All text defined with the same style will take on the new formatting. If you have italics and bold in other paragraphs, that text will remain italicized/bolded. You can create new styles in the same way: choose a paragraph of plain text, change the formatting, choose Format > Style > Create New Style from Selection and make sure that the box next to Apply this style on creation is checked if you want the paragraph you worked on to have the new style (make sure it is not checked if you want the paragraph to retain its old style).

So styles in Storyist are pretty simple. If you expect to end up with an e-book file, by the way, there is not much point in changing the standard formatting other than to apply bold, italic, or underlining, because the e-book conversion will wipe out your special formatting.

When you get ready to export the file from Storyist, choose File > Export and pick the option to export the file as RTF. Storyist will keep your styles intact.

Styles in Word
Many Apple programs, including Text Edit and Pages, ignore styles in RTF files. Therefore, you do not want to use one of these programs to edit your Storyist file. Word and Open Office recognize styles in RTF files and respect them, but only if you have already told Word what to do with Chapter Title, Section Text, and Section Separator. If you haven’t, then Word treats everything as Normal or Default Style, which means that your formatting information may eventually be lost. To prevent this, before opening your RTF file in Word, open a new Word document and type some dummy text:
Chapter One
My first sentence.

Select Chapter One and format it to match the formatting you use for Chapter Title in Storyist, then click in the Styles section of the Formatting Palette (choose View > Formatting Palette if you don’t see it), and with your text still selected, click on New Style. Name your new style Chapter Title. It will be predefined by Word with the formatting you just chose. Do the same thing with “My first sentence,” but call the style “Section Text.” Then select # and center it, add any formatting you need to, and create a new style called Section Separator.

Word will not apply the styles when you create them, but that doesn’t matter. Select your three sentences and erase them, then choose Insert > File and navigate to the RTF file you exported from Storyist. It should arrive with all its formatting intact, with one exception. Word has its own list of fonts, whereas Apple maintains a separate list that Storyist uses. So your italics may look as if they have doubled (they have). If you plan to print the file from Word, you can search for italic and convert it to not italic, and the text will look normal again. But if you plan to read the file back into Storyist, do not make the conversion, or the text won’t look right when you read it back in.

Hope this helps.

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Eugenia, you can save styles by using the Save as Template option in the File menu. Then you can start a new project using those styles even if you delete the one you are working on. (That is, in essence, how Steve created the Novel and Screenplay and other templates that ship with Storyist.)


Templates are just .story files that are stored in Application Support/Storyist/Templates within your user Library. Apple, in its infinite wisdom (cough), started hiding the user library in 10.7. But you can find it in the Go menu, using Go to > Library. And once you are in it, you can drag the icon to your sidebar and it will stay there.


The reason you may want to do this is that it makes your life so much easier. You can drag or Option-drag (to copy) files into and out of the Templates folder as needed.



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Thanks so much!

And moore questions (may be one day I"ll become an expert, but not yet. Not for a while...):


When I import a file, do I' have to apply formatting to every section, section separator and chapter or short story header manually? Or is there a better way to apply styles to the whole manuscript?


And is there a shortcut to create section breaks? Like a keyboard shortcut to do the following : carriage return + enter # + apply section break style to # (I.e. center)



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Hi, Eugenia:

You can have Storyist match styles for you on import or later, but exactly how that works depends on what you're importing from. With Word, the best option is to set up corresponding styles in Word (the formatting need not match) for Section Text, Section Separator, and Chapter Title, then save the file to RTF. That post that's pinned at the top there describes how to do that.


To speed up applying styles in Word, just select everything and apply Section Text. Then run a search for # and apply Section Separator in the Replace field. Then apply the Chapter Title style manually or by searching for the word Chapter. Storyist will then substitute its own named styles for the same styles when you import. You can check what it's doing by clicking on the "Show Import Options" box after selecting File > Import. Make sure that "Preserve style overrides" is checked. (I'm typing this from memory, so the wording may not be exact, but it's pretty obvious).


There is also an "Apply styles by matching text" option in the Format Menu in Storyist that simplifies the process a bit. But Word and the importer preserve style overrides (italics, etc.) better than the Apply styles option does.


If you don't use Word or Open Office, it becomes more difficult because Pages, say, does not save styles with RTF export. If that's the issue, write again and we'll discuss the other options.


There's no key combo that I know of to create section separators as you suggest, but typing # on a line by itself starts a new section. The centering is just for the aesthetics.



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Thank you Marguerite. Very helpful.

And more, if it's OK... -- how can I keep different versions of a manuscript? Should I just count on backups? Or do I create another manuscript with, lets say, date in the title?


And is there a way to open corresponding sections of both manuscripts to compare (dividing the screen)?


Any good suggestions/tips/workflow how you guys are managing different versions?


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You can do all those things. I mostly rely on backups (that is, I have Storyist set up to create automatic backups, but I also create a manual backup before I wreak havoc on some cherished piece of prose—in part because the File > Back Up feature lets me enter a comment to remind myself which version this is). The advantage of this method is that I can access the backups directly through the manuscript I'm working on.


At the end of each day, I duplicate my file and call it Manuscript_Backup.story. I stash that file in a separate location. And because I am paranoid, I have copies on my iPad, my iPod, and Dropbox. I may lose my job-related files (joke: I back those up, too), but it would take a major catastrophe to wipe out my novel-in-progress. :)


At the end of a draft, I copy my file and leave it in a backup folder in its relatively pristine state before beginning a new version. Eventually I wipe out the old ones, because I never really revert completely to an old version. But I do that only in the final stages of a project, because I never know when I will decide to resurrect a scene.


You can't open one manuscript in two different versions in a split screen unless you keep both manuscripts in the same project, which is another option (I keep a manuscript called Saved Text, for stashing paragraphs or sections I may want back one day, so they don't lose their formatting). But you can open two manuscripts side by side, look at them both by adjusting the sizes of their windows, and copy/paste from one to the other.



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