Importing Your Manuscript | Vellum Help

Importing Your Manuscript

It’s easy to import your manuscript into Vellum: simply use the standard Open… dialog and choose any file with a .docx extension. Or, as you may have already done in the tutorial, drop your manuscript onto the Vellum icon. Files with the .docx extension are often created by Microsoft Word, but other programs can create them as well, including Scrivener and Pages.

Because it is so quick to see the results of an import, we first recommend trying your manuscript as-is. You may find that it imports just fine. If not, here are a few things to consider:

Detecting Chapters

As you have probably experienced, there is often no official way to designate a new chapters in word processing programs like Word. When importing your book, Vellum does its best to detect new chapters. Here are a few of the clues Vellum uses to determine where a new chapter begins:

If you find Vellum misses where you’ve begun a new chapter, try making use of one or more of these hints.

Vellum identifies Parts much like it does Chapters. The only difference is that it looks for text that begins with the word Part. Once Vellum has detected a Part element, subsequent Chapters will be grouped underneath it.

Note: Chapter detection is something we aim to continually improve. If you are surprised at how your manuscript is imported and are willing to share your manuscript, contact us.

You can also correct any detection mistakes from within Vellum. If Vellum didn't detect a chapter break and combined two chapters, you can separate them using Split Chapter at Cursor. Or you can merge multiple chapters by selecting them and using Merge Selected Chapters. Each of these commands is available from Vellum’s Chapter menu:


To select multiple chapters in a row, click on the first one and then hold down Shift and click on the last one.

Importing with Drag & Drop

As mentioned above, you can create a new Vellum file from a Word document simply by opening it. But you can also add to an existing book by dragging any .docx file to the Navigator:

Vellum will import all of the chapters in your manuscript at the drop location. In the image above, for instance, the contents of the Word document will be imported underneath the Volume element for The Valley of Fear.

If you prefer to maintain separate Word files for each chapter, then you can drag their containing folder to the Navigator as well, and Vellum will import each one. Vellum will use the names of each file (e.g. Chapter 4.docx, Chapter 5.docx) to determine the order of the chapters.


You can also drag Vellum documents and drop them onto the Navigator. Vellum will create a Volume at the drop location, and import the contents of your book into it.

Table of Contents

If your manuscript included a Table of Contents, you can remove it. Vellum creates a Table of Contents for you every time you generate eBooks.

Element Types

When importing your manuscript, Vellum looks for titles like Foreword, Introduction, Preface, Prologue, Epilogue, Afterword, Acknowledgments, and About the Author. When Vellum encounters these titles, it will create a new element and set its element type appropriately.

The correct type ensures that:

For more information on element type and how to change it, visit the Element Types page.

Title and Author Information

For title and author information, Vellum looks at the Word file’s properties (In Word, use File ▸ Properties…). You can choose to fill this in on the Word side, or fill it in after you import into Vellum. Information about your book — including additional information like ISBN, language, publisher — can be set in the Book Info tab shown when you select the book title in the Navigator:

Scene Breaks

In Vellum, a simple scene break is indicated by an empty paragraph in Vellum. You should find that these empty paragraphs are imported from your Word file.

An ornamental break is one indicated by a small glyph or series thereof. On import, Vellum translates standard indicators like ***, +++, and ### as ornamental breaks. These should appear on their own line in the text in your Word document.

You can also insert an ornamental break within Vellum using the Text Feature menu:

Other Text Features

Although you should find simple formatting like bold and italics transfer to Vellum just fine, you may discover that to not be the case for larger sections such as block quotations or verse.

Rather than force you to deal with tabs or indentation, Vellum allows to specify these sections as a “Text Feature.” Select the text you want to affect, then use the appropriate item in Text Feature menu (as seen above).

You can use the Text Feature menu for new text that you write as well. Read Adding Text Features for more information.

Reimporting your Word File

Should you make changes in your manuscript, you can reimport from the original file using File ▸ Reimport…. This will replace chapters in your book with those found in the Word file. Note that, should you decide to reimport, any formatting changes made within Vellum will be lost.

Using Styles in Word

If you need more control over importing and are comfortable using styles in Word, please download this package, containing further documentation and a Word template designed for Vellum:

Vellum Advanced Import Documents

Files from other Applications

You can use other software to prepare your manuscript, so long as it can export to the .docx file format:

Files from Scrivener

If you’ve prepared your manuscript with Scrivener, you can use its Compile Dialog to create a .docx file that can be imported into Vellum.

For best results, you’ll want to ensure that your chapter headings include the word ‘Chapter.’ (This isn’t necessary for elements like epigraphs or epilogues, of course.) For our simple manuscript, it’s easiest to include the chapter headings in the content of our book:

Now bring up the Compile Dialog by selecting File ▸ Compile… from Scrivener's main menu:

Scrivener has an extensive list of compile options, which we won't touch on here. For this file's structure, however, it's easy to add page breaks between each element (see the Pg Break Before column in the dialog above). If you have a more complicated structure, you may have to dig into some of Scrivener's advanced options.

Now select Microsoft Word (.docx) from the Compile For: popup menu at the bottom of the dialog, and you're ready to hit Compile.

Files from Pages

If you’ve written your Manuscript with Pages, you can use the latest version to create a .docx file that can be imported by Vellum. From Pages, select File ▸ Export To ▸ Word…. Open the Advanced Options section and select .docx for Format.