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Microsoft Word Tip: How to save those italics!


A while back I did a post on how to format an ebook with Microsoft Word as your starting place. Since writing that I discovered a great tip that makes the process even easier.

If you have gone through the process, you know the worst part of taking an old manuscript and converting it into a clean Microsoft Word Doc file, which can either be uploaded to Smashwords or saved as web page filtered html and then pulled into Calibre, etc, is keeping track of those italics.

So here is a tip that will allow you to give your manuscript the nuclear blast (copying into Notepad) to remove all formatting and still not have to go back and manually re-insert all the italics.

Start with the original manuscript. I do this the very first thing, BEFORE anything else listed in the How to Format an Ebook with Microsoft Word post.

Open Find or hit Control/F

1.) In Find Window: Leave box blank but go to More–>Format–>Font–>Font Style. Click ITALIC. Hit OK.
2.) In Replace Window: QQQ^&QQQ

Select all, copy/paste into Notepad. Copy/paste back into a new Word document.

Now, select all, hit “clear all” to make sure you remove all styles. (You can check this by having your document map open. If there are no styles, nothing should show there. If something does, hit “clear all” again.)

With EVERYTHING SELECTED hit “Body” in your style sheet.

Now you can proceed with putting your italics back.

Go to Find or hit Control/F

1.) Select “use wildcards”
2.) In Find Window: (QQQ)(*)(QQQ)
3.) In Replace Window: \2 with your body italics style chosen. (You will have to have built this style. You can just choose italics in the same place you did before and convert all italics to a stylesheet later using find/replace if you like.) To get to styles here go to More–>Format–>Style–>Body Italics (or whatever you named your italics style). Hit OK.

Voila! Everything that was in italics before is again and you can proceed with adding your other styles, page breaks, etc.

Lori Devoti is the multi-published author of romantic comedy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She also writes the Dusty Deals Mystery series under the pen name Rae Davies. Look for her workshops at Write by the Lake (DCS University of Wisconsin), at RWA conferences and meetings, and here at the How To Write Shop. For more information, visit her web site.
  1. Awesome info, Lori! Thanks!!

  2. Thanks, Stacey! I’m glad it was helpful. It has certainly made the process a lot more enjoyable for me.

  3. John Chapman says:

    Hi Lori

    Good stuff but I am trying to format my wife’s books done in word 2003 on my mac which runs Word for Mac 2011. Have you tried this in this version?

    Can’t see how this can be done with the dastardly new find facility the geeks at microsoft have handed down to us.



  4. Unfortunately, John, I can’t help you on that. As they say in the commercials… “I’m a PC.” 😉

  5. Trying to do this in Word 2010, don’t see a Body style sheet (and can’t find info on it with a Google search). I can bring up styles and, once I’ve set it to show all styles, I can see Body Text, but if I click on it, it applies that style to the body. Or is that the point? I’m supposed to apply the Body text style to the text???

  6. Ok, combining this: with your instructions and ignoring the whole make a Body italics style, I got it to work.

  7. I’m glad you found a way that works for you. I didn’t read the article you linked to, but I will warn you that in the past when I didn’t set up a style for italics and just used the italics font type, once the book was converted into an actual epub or mobi file all the words in italics looked funky – like a smaller font than everything else.

    It doesn’t matter what you call your italics style “body italics” is just what I like to use, but I do think it is important that you use an actual style and not just the font type icon button.

    Best of luck!!


  8. This is some POWERFUL Black Magic! It worked! This is going to save me a lot of time! Thanks Lori!

  9. Glad it worked for you! :)

  10. Hooolllly wow. This information is going to save me hours!! Do you know how much of a pain it is to try and re-italicize parts of a manuscript that’s over 250k words long?? Thank you!


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