Compile error. Random failure to compile text in italics

Scrivener Version: (1463331) 64-bit
Win. 10.
Bug reported 23.05.22

Scrivener fails to compile all italicised text correctly. In the Scrivener file, the italicised text is fine. I’ve checked the style, and it’s the same as the style used for other sentences I’ve italicised. However, on compilation to .docx and .pdf, many italicised sentences are compiled as unitalicised. I’ve tried four times, but the bug is consistent. For me, this is a crucial issue, as I use italicised text to differentiate POV and / or thoughts (as opposed to speech). Can anyone advise on how to solve this?
Many thanks.

Your title says “random”. Is it always the same sentences from one try to the other ?
Or else, what exactly is random about it ? (If other than some sentences coming out right, and some not.)

Thx for your quick response. “Random” as in ‘I can’t see any pattern that determines the phrases that are not italicised in the compiled versions’.

However, the error is “not random” in that it appears to be the same phrases that are not italicised.

Any ideas?

Perhaps you have the same issue this user had :

I’d make 110% sure that to be true.

Hi Vincent,
I’ve re-checked, re-compiled, examined the code, and the same error still appears. A significant percentage (approx. 5-10%) of italicised sentences in the Scrivener manuscript fail to compile into italicised text in the .pdf.
Any further suggestions would be appreciated.

A common cause could be this:

There are at least 3 kinds of style: character (a), character+paragraph (¶a), and paragraph (¶). (A line in the manual says there are 2 types, but that simply isn’t true. It’s a good deal more complicated than that.)

Often the user wants a paragraph style, not the other two. It’s determined when you define the style and can’t be changed by redefining it. There’s a dropdown that allows “character attributes” or “paragraph settings” (or words to that effect) and also a checkbox that says “save all formatting”. Careful how you fill out those settings!

If you use one of the first two types and in that style, the character portion is Regular, then it overrides bold, italics, underline, etc. and turns the text regular.

If you have a bit of text or a paragraph with that style, you can apply italics in the Editor – and the style doesn’t override it there – but it still overrides when Compile applies the style.

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Hi drmajorbob,
Many thanks for your reply. I’ve now spent 4-5 hours on this. Hope what I’ve learnt and report here can help other users. I’ve also written a few relevant suggestions.


I have a simple style for the body of the manuscript. This is called LGD Body. I select part of a sentence, and italicise this.

Issue 1:
The manual 17.2.1 says in respect of paragraph styles: “When applied to text, they alter the selected paragraphs but do not change any of the character level attributes such as bold or italics.”

  • This does not appear to be the case. Scrivener styles the whole paragraph, but does change the character level attributes (from italics to regular) for the selected text.

Issue 2:
In my manuscript styled with LGD Body, I need to style differently part of a sentence (here: italicise). However, since Scrivener overrides what I see (why no WYSIWYG here?), the selected text appears to the user to be in italics, but is compiled by Scrivener in regular style. In order to compile the selected text in italics, it seems the only way to make this work is by:

  • removing the LGD Body style from the entire paragraph
  • creating and saving a new style called e.g. LGD Body Italics
  • selecting the section of the paragraph to style and selecting the LGD Body Italics style
  • selecting the rest of the paragraph
  • creating a new style called LGD Body Character and applying this to the rest of the paragraph

Correct me if I’m wrong, but after having done all this, what the user sees is no different from what they saw before they went to that effort, but this is the only way for Scrivener to compile the text correctly.

Issue 3:
When choosing the option to highlight the restyled text /format/style/highlight box checked, Scrivener says “Highlight boxes are drawn only in the editor to make styled text stand out.” However, this is not true. When compiled to .pdf, the styled text that was highlighted in the editor is compiled as underlined text in the pdf. I’m also unable to remove the highlighting using the /format/highlight/remove option.

The above issues trigger the following suggestions.

a) Consider giving the user the option of paragraph or character style under the menu /format/style, as this seems more logical than placing it (hidden) under a drop-down under /New Style - a menu item that offers formatting options (odd, since users will always want to “save all formatting” (otherwise they wouldn’t format it). Only when users click on the down arrow that indicates they will not save all formatting will they be offered the option of character or paragraph formatting.

b) Please change this so that:

  • WYSIWYG is maintained
  • character styles relate to selected text, thus overriding the paragraph style for that same text
  • consider activating the “Next Style” option box also for character style options. This is currently disabled by Scrivener (why?), so if users want a different style to the one used prior to the selected text, they have no choice other than to highlight the following text, use the dropdown or right-click menu and apply a style manually - a time-consuming process.

c) Consider making the items under ‘Style’ in the drop-down menu the same as the items under ‘Style’ in the right-click dropdown menu. IMHO, it makes things a little convoluted to have to remember which items are under which ‘Style’ menu.

d) Consider changing the wording of ‘Save character attributes’ under /New Style / Formatting /. IMHO, it might be clearer if the wording were: ‘format selected text’, as users wouldn’t choose to format the selected text if they did not want to save the attributes. Also “attributes” is misleading, as it’s used for a significant other purpose in file management terminology.

Feedback welcome. And if there is a simpler way to style selected text in a sentence, please let me know.


Literature & Latte advises against using a ubiquitous body style. Your experience is one of the reasons.

Show us that style in the Styles panel. I’m betting it isn’t a paragraph style.

Scrivener isn’t designed or intended to be WYSIWYG. Compile overrides the Editor in multiple ways.

It doesn’t have to be that complicated. If you like, we can work this out in a ten-minute Zoom session:


That won’t happen.

Already true.

After using a character style, use No Style to stop using it. Notice the shortcut:

Hi, drmajorbob,
I don’t know if other authors find the styling/compilation of manuscripts difficult in Scrivener, but I’ll work through things again and get back to you. A Zoom meeting might prove the best way to go.

I’ve now gone through a number of processes again - each time following word for word the instructions in the manual and keeping in mind what you wrote. There’s some progress - the key instruction being not to style the manuscript in the editing window (i.e. leave the text as it appears in the chosen manuscript template, even though this may not look appropriate, or ‘nice’, to work with). So your tip to use “no style”, was important, thank you.

When I now create a style (e.g. italicise) for selected text, this correctly italicises only the text I’ve selected. Good. The style then defaults to ‘no style’ after the selected text. Good. However, on compiling the text, the italicised text becomes underlined. I’ve tested the convert-to-pdf process with LibreOffice, and italicised text is converted correctly. Curiously, this issue does not arise with Scrivener’s built-in style ‘Emphasise’.
Any ideas why this behaviour should happen and how to stop it?
Thanks for your time on this.

Edit: I see that any new style I create based on ‘Emphasise’ appears as underlined in the pdf. Have I missed an option somewhere to turn this off?


There is a separate Compile setting that changes italics to underline. It may be at the settings gear in the main Compile window. Look around.

From the Compile Overview panel -

If you haven’t created a custom compile format yet, then right-click on the built-in compile format you want to edit and select Duplicate & Edit Format. (You can’t modify the built-in formats.)

OR If you have created a custom compile format, then right-click on your custom format and select Edit Format.

From the Compile Format Designer Panel, select Transformations and uncheck Convert italics to underlines

Press Save, then run compile.


Thanks very much, Jim, that is what I was missing. I much appreciate your help and that of drmajorbob. The manuscript and pdf look fine now. Please close this thread.
Have a good end-of-week.

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We don’t close threads, ordinarily.

That’s good to know.