How to clean up cluttered formatting

Not sure how to search for this in the forum correctly so hope you will pardon if this has been covered elsewhere or better – just finding where some instructions might be found on this might be enough.

I’ve been doing a nonfiction book project and over time have accumulated a number of sections which have different formatting of fonts, titles and subtitles and so on. Is there a way to bulk-edit the formatting across the various sections or documents?


There are two answers to that question, and both of them are yes. :slight_smile:

The first answer is the Documents/Convert/Formatting to Default Text Style menu command. This works in bulk, so you can select a hundred documents and normalise their formatting with a single command. This uses the settings in the Formatting preference pane (and what you would see if you make a brand new file and start typing).

The second answer is that the whole program has been designed so that you can be sloppy. It’s based upon the philosophy that writers should not have to worry about their point sizes and their indents, and which font variant supports what features. The compile system has at a part of its core, the ability to reformat the entire work whenever you export. Many of the provided presets already do this. For example the standard manuscript format preset will convert everything to double-spaced 12pt Courier (with an easy toggle to TNR). This is also quite easy to do. Generally all you need is to visit the Formatting compile option pane, check off “Override text and notes formatting” at the top, then click on any of the items in the list at the top that have a checkmark in “Text”, and use the mock editor below to set up how those sections should look. That’s the most basic way to do it. This tool can achieve great complexity if you need it, but just clicking on the “text” or filled page icon row and setting the formatting the way you want it to appear on output is generally going to do what you want.

So either way is valid, and up to your personal preference. Some like to just not worry about it, and have a bit of a mess in the editor (perhaps intentionally, as a form of notation to themselves, such as using large fonts for important sections). Others like the simplicity of the “WYSIWYG” way of working, and for that we have the bulk format correction tools.

Also note the Edit/Paste and Match Style command. That is invaluable if you collect text from a variety of sources. It will clean the pasted text of all formatting so that it fits in with the surrounding text.

Hi Amber,

Belated thanks for this super helpful reply!