Italics, Italics oh where did my italics go


First: I LOVE Scrivener, and Scrivener 3 for Windows is amazing.

Outbound to Editors:
I wrote my 1st through 4th drafts in Scrivener. I sent out the document in MS Word (member of Office365 so I always have the latest version). I got it back and we’d agreed to rework all text messages into a more flowing version, using italics to show the actual text message.

I tried to import it into Scrivener (Cut from MS Word, PASTE TO MATCH STYLE into Scrivener). All Italics are gone. That was not good. This is 77,000 words, so searching and replacing all the italics was going to take too long. I did a search and found a recommendation to create my own style. Highlight a section, go to FORMAT>STYLE>NEW STYLE FROM SELECTION and I named it: MS WORD FORMAT FIX (very creative, I know).

So I copied and pated from Word. Then highlighted the document’s text and change the style to MS Word Format Fix. 99% of it came in correctly, but I still had an occasional issue where I had to highlight the text and make it italics. All good, right? NOPE.

Outbound to Beta Readers:
I set up the compile style the way I wanted it. Did a lot of research in the manual to get it all right. Excellent tutorials by the way. I even went in and unchecked the box that says convert italics to underline. See, I’m smart, and I follow instructions. Not as smart as I thought.

First Beta Reader Feedback: “You should put the text message in italics, it’d make it easier to read” and a page reference was given. Second beta reader, same feedback. And so on. Looked at the Word document - no italics. I looked at the Scrivener file: All the italics is there.

Team, what in the world am I doing wrong? This has to be user error (me being the user). Why is it showing up in the Scrivener file, and not compiling to Word with Italics? Before I did the Style change (meaning I had the default style) it all worked fine. Now with my “fix” it’s not working.

I’m about to send this out for query, and it’ll take forever to update the word document, manually, to re-introduce the italics.

This is a cry for help… anyone out there have an idea how I can fix this?

Yours truly, and truly hoping you point out the error of my ways,

TS Arrington

Hi TS Arrington
My experience and ongoing practice with styles is through making many mistakes. I think I found something similar to your second “outbound” scenario. If you have an “italics” style set in Word and then a style within Scrivener after the import(paste) process, then you will need a matching style in Compile in order to retain the italics in the output file.
Hope that helps.

I find it interesting, from the folks here in the blog, as well as the group on Reddit, that there seems to be a dismissal of anyone trying to do this totally on Scrivener. I think you’re answer is as close to reality as I can agree with. I scanned 34 chapters, 77,114 words in the last two days, and fixed every single missing italics.


  1. Selected each scene and set to NO STYLE
  2. Many - but interestingly not all - italics format was reset to normal font.
  3. Use Word’s FIND function, going to ADVANCED and then to FONT and finally selecting ITALICS
  4. Using Highlight ALL, I scrolled down the page (using NEXT)
  5. Matched the word to the Scrivener scene and fixed the Italics.

I repeated the five steps for every scene in the novel, and every occurrence of italics. I found many that were still properly formatted. Others were not. In some case it was at the start of a paragraph, but not in every case. I was thinking, for a bit, that the

tag and the or tags were getting mixed up.

But the pattern fell away after I was about 25% of the way through. I’m not sure what’s wrong with the PASTE MATCH STYLE that it does not remember the italics during the paste function.

One last note, and this is just personal opinion / ranting (please forgive). If we have a piece of software that allows you to write, send out in .docx format, and paste to match style, that all the changes from MS Word - and the other tools out there - should keep things like formatting. My reasoning is, with the ability to sent from Scrivener to Printers, or to .mobi or .epub this is a cradle to publish tool.

I hope the next version update takes this into consideration and we’ll be able to accomplish the full journey. Scrivener 3 is such a practical and useful tool!!!

“Paste and match style” is essentially “paste plain text” so it matches the style of the target which in the case of Scrivener is either the default set in Preferences → Editing → Formatting, or Project → Project Settings… → Formatting. So of course it ignores any italics in the source.




That is so - oh so - incredibly obvious.

So, Mark - Thank you by the way - so I simply paste it back from MS Word, and I won’t lose the ability to export it again (let’s say for Beta Readers) or even in the end to .epub / .mobi format? Meaning that the default compile format will keep the italics but do all the magic to give me a good .epub /.mobi format for KDC?

I’m still shaking my head at my quote - techno savvy - unquote mind and realize I totally missed it.

Thanks for helping me see the obvious.

Sherrod (TS Arrington)

Is there a reason why you chose to copy and paste rather than Import?

As Mark pointed out, Paste and Match Style behaved as intended. Stripping “unwanted” formatting is the whole point of that command.

It seems that I looked at the first part of the import section (9.1) and saw the cut / paste and neglected to read the rest.

It seems, Scrivener’s team has thought of this very issue:

— RTF (rich text format): the universal rich text standard. This is often the
best format to use for importing from word processors, purely upon the basis
of speed and compatibility. It is a format designed by Microsoft specifically
so that third-party programs like ours can effectively communicate
with Word. If you run into problems, either with speed or quality, using
the more complicated .doc/x conversion process then try RTF.

I could have taken each section - as I did - and move them to their individual scene document, and imported them, or dragged and dropped. My concern was that it altered the original format from Scrivener and I feared it would affect the output (.epub / .mobi / .docx) for further editor and Beta Reader feedback.

I will try this new method (to me, not to the program) on the next book - currently being worked on - as I interact with alpha readers, editors, and beta readers.

Thank you so much for the help.