Using "No Style" as the manual suggests means losing character attributes

Here is a problem I (& a google reveals many others) keep having:

Changing or designating a style will change your character formatting unless you till Scrivener explicitly not to. The way to do this is to create a new preset (Format -> Formatting -> New preset from selection) and choose the option “Save paragraph style”

If you choose “Save character attributes” or “Save all formatting”, your italicized text will become unformatted.

This distinction between paragraph style and character attributes is already kind of confusing (imo, as I can never remember which one of these I actually want to select for the behavior I want). But you can test it out to see it’s behavior. Which is what I end up doing over and over again every time this confusion rears its ugly head.

Okay, so what is the problem?

Well you read, in the forum and manual (see 15.6.1 Think Different) variations of:

You should use “No Style” by default as this generally makes the compile process more flexible.

The problem with that approach is this that you can’t make "No Style behave as if you chose “Save paragraph style.” You can’t modify “No Style”.

So say you import a word processor document into your Scrivener binder. It already has character formatting THAT YOU WANT TO KEEP. but you then select the “body” of your text and assign it to “No Style” in the Scrivener style pulldown. Guess what? Your character formatting is gone.

There is no way that I can tell to make Scrivener’s No Style preserve character formatting.

But if you defy the manual and make your own “body” style that is akin to what “No Style” produces (your default) but then specify “Save paragraph style” which works but now you have crippled your compile process, which now no longer substitutes as you want but passes through the “body” style as is and you have to override that in compile manually. Which sucks.

“No Style” needs a flag that preserves your character attributes if you are going to stay with this “15.6.1 Think Different” No Style body default. I have dozens of times lost character formatting (highlights, italics, bolds) by highlighting “body” text that was imported from another program and hitting “No Style” forgetting completely that it does not preserve character attributes

What is the solution here? Is there a way to work as Scrivener intends with No Style and compile while not losing all your gd italics every time you select some text and hit "No Style. Is there no way to make No Style behave as if you saved it as a paragraph style that leaves character attributes the same?

This has bitten me more times than I can count.

For the case of importing formatted (not styled) text, and you want to make it conform to the default text formatting of Scrivener, select the document(s) in the binder that have the offending formatting and choose “Documents->Convert->Text to default formatting” from the menu. You’ll be given options on what to convert, and what to leave as-is (font only, remove all styles; preserve: font size, alignment, tabs & indents, and/or line spacing).

The default formatting is set in either Scrivener->preferences-> Formatting if you want unstyled text to default to something different. Alternately, you can change the default formatting just for the project you’re working on by going to Project->Project Settings->Formatting.

Selecting text that doesn’t have any styles assigned to it (already displays “No Style”) and picking “No Style” again… I’m not sure why that should do anything. Maybe that’s intended behavior, maybe it’s a bug. Sorry, I can’t help there. Just keep in mind that “No Style” isn’t a style; it only strips stuff out of the text formatting; it wasn’t designed to apply any kind of formatting, I don’t think… (please correct me if I’m wrong about this). But if it did (does?) apply the default formatting, without prompting for what text formatting to preserve or what to selectively strip out, it may be impossible to preserve anything at all when you choose No Style.

As for which to pick when creating your own styles; Paragraph styles are for entire paragraphs. Maybe you want to modify the tab stops for tabulated data, but don’t want to change the font… that’s a good candidate for paragraph styles. Or perhaps you need to reduce the font size, and use a reliably fixed-width font–that’s a good candidate for including the font & font size as part of the paragraph style.

If you just want to modify a word or short phrase within a paragraph (applying bold, changing the color of the font or highlighting…) that’s a character style. You don’t want to use character styles for stuff that should apply to an entire paragraph except in rare circumstances. For instance, maybe you’re writing a novel with the text of hand-written letters included by using the block quote style, but you also want to represent emails in the same novel. You might want custom paragraph styles that change the font and indentation to distinguish the two from each other and from the main text of the story.

holy crap. That is actually what I have always wanted. I never thought to look beyond the styles menu for that functionality (brainwashed as I have been by traditional word processors).That is brilliant. That is precisely what I have been trying to do, only via styles. That is, take, say, a docx file that was edited for print and re-import it back to the binder but make it look like it was typed in in Scrivener with all my preferences and spacing and the font, etc changed to my Scrivener screen font (I have eye problems) but with all the character formatting intact.

Each time i have done that dance it have lost formatting and I always thought that if I understood the difference between traditional word processor styles and scrivener’s way, I could get it. Low and behold. Deep in Scrivy’s menus is actually an easier solution. Convert → Default Formatting. I had no idea that was there. I have been trying to duplicate that with styles.


Scrivener’s implementation of styles was a welcome relief for me (and likely many people) from only having “preserve formatting” to differentiate parts of my text from the whole, but the implementation of how it treats unstyled text is a bit quirky. Long-time users are accustomed to pointing to the Docs->convert menu to neaten up text formatting.

Glad my rambling was helpful. Happy Scrivening!

P.S. This sort of thing should be covered in the interactive tutorial. I’m looking at the Windows 3 beta tutorial, and it’s under a “Tips” folder titled “Default Formatting”. I assume that’s consistent with the Mac tutorial, so maybe skimming that part of the tutorial project would help you head off any future frustrations. The manual is also good, if a bit overwhelming in its breadth and depth sometimes. And of course, these forums are populated by lots of people who have delved deep and settled on favorite use-cases for Scrivener.