Plain-text Italics

Occasionally I’ll wish to export my work in plain-text – for example, for review on Critters. I like the export functionality that converts italics to underlines, but neither formatting characteristic exists in plain-text, by definition.

As a “wish list” item, it would be nice if a plain-text export designated italics with the bracketing underscores, automatically adding them. So the sentence

Would be converted to

I won’t die without it, but it sure would be keen. :slight_smile:

Love the program, BTW. Use it every day.

This is a one-way procedure, but you could perform it on a copy of the draft (Edit Scivenings on Draft; Cmd-a; Cmd-n; Cmd-v). Then use the menu option Text/Convert/Bold and Italics to MultiMarkdown Syntax. You’ll get asterisks instead of underscores, and bold selections will get a double-asterisk around them. Not sure if that will work for you, but it would at least textually highlight your formatting and give you a place to jump from in terms of search and replace.

It sounds like this functionality already somewhat exists – as you say, it will at least get me in the ballpark.

I’ll need to look into MultiMarkdown more. Thanks!

Actually, if you do not need it or want to, you needn’t worry about the MMD bit at all. This function strictly just goes through the RTF file and substitutes RTF formatting for an appropriate number of asterisks. No MMD knowledge required.

Incidentally, I checked the Critters site and asterisks should work as well as underscores, so after running this command you needn’t do anything at all.

If you’re exporting to an application that has really powerful search and replace features, such as InDesign CS3 and 4, you might try the trick I use. As I write in Scrivener, I tag text with the quote marks some European languages use. To almost every application around today, they’re just text and, unlike the underline/MultiMarkdown scheme (which depends for its meaning on which side of the letter the underline is on), they are unambiguous tags. They also let me tag text with what will become character styles rather than just the Word rtf formatting for italic in a specific font. Word formatting imported into InDesign causes all sorts of woes, so whenever possible I import text devoid of all formatting.

My scheme uses these tags:

«««Bold Italic»»»

(I’m still trying to come up with a way to tag smallcaps.)

I’ve got some GREP search and replace scripts inside InDesign that let me replace those markers with the appropriate character style. The only thing I must remember is to run the scripts in the proper order from Bold Italic to Italic.

This is also a handy trick to do something that stock InDesign can’t do, place italics and bold inside an index. Just include the tags inside an index definition and convert them after the index is generated.

For what it is worth, I’ve been encouraging Adobe to include the very simple paragraph styling scheme that PageMaker had. Any paragraph that begins with text inside angle brackets gets placed inside a paragraph with that name as its paragraph style. It’d make it much easier for writers who use applications like Scrivener to tell publishers, who may use InDesign, how a book is formatted.

For instance, in Scrivener this text:

This is a paragraph that is indented like quotes should be.

would come into InDesign without the text inside the angle brackets but with a Quote paragraph style assigned. InDesign can already do that sort of thing, but only if you also do some other and more complex formatting. Programmers like that sort of stuff. Most writers don’t.

For writers, this would mean that they’d be able to specify for their publishers inside Scrivener which paragraphs are first-level headers, second-level headers or quotes. That’s something that’s easily lost in the primitive sort of rtf that OS X understands. And it would avoid mistakes that are often hard to spot.

If you use any Adobe product and have ideas you’d like to see in future products, go to:

You might even suggest the PageMaker idea above. It’s already in their idea list, it just needs more user support.

The equivalent webpage for Apple is here:

You might suggest that Apple add GREP to the features of Cocoa Text, so it can be included inside Scrivener. What is GREP? It’s search and replace done right and bears the same relationship to regular S&R that a Porsche race car does to a Model T Ford.

–Michael W. Perry, Seattle

While true, I think that if someone is going to take the trouble to learn regular expressions, typing things into the Terminal would probably not be too much of a bother, and then one can use the already installed and free Sed to do this. Once you have a procedure (MMD => Critter, or whatever) you can save the procedure to a script file and simple execute that every time you compile, or better yet automate the execution with Hazel or AppleScript folder actions and completely forget about it. Might sound complex, but so is learning regexp.