Where did my italics go? A cautionary tale

This morning, I am calm.

Last night I was very cross. Initially, I was cross with MMD 3. Which is quite easy, because MMD 3 is a change and change is bad (I won’t bother to prove that. Certain personality types will agree with that, other types will disagree.)

Why was I cross? Because somewhere in the journey from Scrivener to final latexed PDF my italics had disappeared. Working with MMD takes me to the edge of my computer understanding and then further, but even I know that italics give me italics.

Except it didn’t. It gave me italics. Which looks horrible.

What was to blame? Clearly MMD3 because that was the change. And it did seem to be using \emph where MMD 2 didn’t (I thought, but, again I may not have been paying attention).

A lot of fiddling later, to see if I had missed things in moving from my customised XSLT files to the necklace of Latex \includes for MMD 3, but everything seemed to be there. And then I found that bold had gone as well.

Worse, when I tried Latexing previously compiled tex files the formatting was missing on them. At which point I realised that MMD 3 was not the culprit.

It still took me an inordinately long time to realise that it was probably my Tex system which was playing up. Yes, there was the real culprit. The old MacTex (2008) which had worked on my MacBook under Leopard was misbehaving after being migrated to my new MacBook Pro running Lion.

So I plugged the ethernet cable in (wifi on Lion is still too flakey for a 1.8Gb download) and got the latest MacTex (2011).

And this morning, as the autumn sun shines happily on me, I have my italics and bold back.

If you’ve changed two things and it’s broken the problem’s probably with the thing you don’t think is broken.