Why does Word sometimes override bold and italics when I change a style?

If you need to change the style of your text but have added direct formatting to it; bold text or italic text, beware! MS Word can really mess it up.

Here’s an experiment to try to explain what I mean

Set up a document containing these two styles:
Normal
Font: (Default) Times New Roman,
11 pt,
Indent: First line:  0.5 cm, Justified
Line spacing:  single,
Widow/Orphan control,
Style: Quick Style
No Indent

Indent: First line:  0.01 cm,

Style: Linked, Quick Style
Based on: Normal
Following style: Normal
 Now type this in in ‘Normal’ style:
Using ‘Normal’ style, copy these two paragraphs of text into MS Word. Make this first paragraph italic.
Using Normal style, copy these two paragraphs of text into MS Word. In this second paragraph make just the last word italic.
Now select the first paragraph and change its style. I’m going to make it, my style of ‘No Indent’.
Now select the second paragraph and change its style. Again change it to ‘No Indent’.  
Before – as ‘Normal’ style:
After applying ‘No Indent’ style to each separate paragraph:

Now undo the ‘No Indent’ style changes, select both paragraphs and then re-apply ‘No Indent’ style to both at once. You get:
Notice what happens to the italics? The same thing happens for any other direct formatting you apply whether it’s a font, a font size, bold, italics, color… whatever.
Apparently the rule is meant to be that if a paragraph has less than 50% of direct formatting then this will be retained if the style is changed. If it has more than 50% then the direct formatting is lost.
…but it’s not consistent!
Select more than one paragraph and all the direct formatting is changed.
…but even that is not consistent!
If you have a document with multiple styles and you wish to change just one of them, then right clicking the style, selecting all X instance(s) and then changing the selected items may give you either effect.

So how do you do it?

I had a book which used a ‘Publisher’ style. I wanted to change this to a ‘Normal’ style. The trouble was I had used italics for emphasis, the remote ends of telephone conversations and thoughts. Simply selecting all occurrences of the ‘Publisher’ style and replacing them with ‘Normal’ style lost lots of the italics – too many for me to want to go through and change them all back manually. Here’s what I did:
Step 1 – find all the italics using search & replace and highlight them in green. To do that
  • Select ‘Replace from the Home toolbar
  • Use Format > Font and select ‘Italic’ in both the find and replace boxes.

  • Select green highlighting from the home toolbar.
  • Select Format > Highlight

Here’s what you get:


Step 2 – Select all instances of the style you want to change and change them to the new style. Some of the italics will be lost but the green highlighting will remain.


Step 3 Use the replace menu to find all instances of green highlighting and replace them with italics and no highlighting.


Once you have used ‘Replace All’, your style will be changed and the italics back to normal.


This method can be used if you’ve used bold, colored or any other direct formatting within a style. You might want to use a different highlight color for each.

What a tedious chore! I can understand why Microsoft did this but it would have been so much nicer if they had given us a checkbox labelled ‘Change all direct formatting within style.’



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Editing your book

It’s essential that a book you want to promote is free from the sort of errors an editor would pick out. A book full of typos and grammar errors is an excellent way to ruin your reputation as an author. Line editing services seem expensive to a new author; however, so many will attempt this job themselves. The following is an extract from my book ‘An Illustrated Guide to Getting Published.’


Assuming you produced your manuscript with Microsoft Word, you already should have used Word’s spelling and grammar checker. You might think this step has been covered – right?
Wrong! It’ll probably still be full of mistakes. Here are the steps my wife and I go through before we send a file to a publisher.

  1. Read the book through. Either print it out and read the printed copy, or send the file to an e-book reader and read it that way. (More on this later.) Reading it on your word processor isn’t the best solution. After all – any mistakes were made on that. Make corrections on a copy of the document and save it with a different filename so you can revert to an earlier version if necessary. Keep a backup of your book on something else such as a USB memory stick. Trust me, sooner or later, you will have a computer disaster. You don’t want to lose your hard work. If you’re paranoid keep a copy in a different building or ‘in the cloud’.
  2. Are you sure you used the right word? If you are in any doubt – check it again unless you want to look foolish in print
    Bear-faced or bare-faced?

  3. Watch out for:
    • Unnecessary words? “She gave a loud shriek.” Quiet shriek anyone? 
    • Characters appearing without explanation
    • Minor characters who are named but take no further part in the plot
    • Crossing time zones without time being affected
    • Chronoclasms in historical novels – President Lincoln looked at his wristwatch (not used by men until the early 1900s)
    • Bits of the story that drag because of detailed descriptions
  4. Put the text through a grammar checking program. We use two:
     Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check). It’s a subscription service.
    Ginger (www.gingersoftware.com). Needs a slightly more powerful computer. Also a subscription service.

  5. Both Grammarly and Ginger will find mistakes, which you didn’t spot. Not all of these  ‘mistakes’ will be errors just as the grammar checker in Word also  finds false errors. I find it’s best to put no more than one chapter at a time through it.

    Grammarly allows you to set your writing style.
    Ginger is better at punctuation.

  1. Get a text to speech program to read the book aloud while you follow along. We use ‘Text Aloud’ which has a plugin for Microsoft Word, but there are lots of other programs including some free options. This step is essential since when reading it yourself, you read what you expect the document to say rather than what is actually there. Addition 2014 – the text to speech option of Word 2013 is very good now and even better on Windows 8.1.
  2. Get a proofreader to read the document. You can use a professional proofreader or a friend or do a swap with another indie author. Consider using a proof reader on the other side of the ocean at this stage to find those words and expressions which don’t quite have the same meaning.
    e.g. Midgie – midget or small candy in the US.
    Midgie – small biting fly, especially in Scotland.

Sending a file to the Kindle Touch/Fire/Keyboard

If you have an e-book reader such as the Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire or Kindle Keyboard it will do a fairly good job of reading the text to you. The basic Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite do not offer this feature.
At this stage, it’s enough to send the file as a .doc or .docx file attachment to your Kindle e-mail address. Use File > ‘Save and send’. Enter the email address provided with your Kindle. If you don’t know it you can find it from the Home screen menu > Settings > Send to Kindle email (You might have to go to a second screen). A subject isn’t important, but give it the document title + ‘draft’. Once you’ve sent the email it might take a few minutes to show up on your Kindle. Consult your Kindle guide for how to have the document read to you. Expect it to make some terrible pronunciation mistakes though. It will be enough, however, to draw your attention to errors.

Sending a file to another Android device e.g. Nexus 7

Although there is a Kindle reader available for these devices, it does not offer ‘Text to Speech.’ To get round that use an e-reader which offers to read the text to you. One such e-reader is Moon+ Reader Pro which is available from the Google Play Store for £3.10 ($4.99). This reader accepts DRM free .epub files. That means you will have to convert your Word file into an .epub file first. I use Calibre to do this.

  1. Save the Word document as a .doc or .docx file
  2. Open Calibre and use its ‘Add books’ icon to add the .doc or .docx file
  3. Use the ‘Convert books’ icon to convert the file to an epub format – this is probably the default format. You don’t need to add a cover or meta data unless you want to at this stage.
  4. Use the ‘Connect/share’ button in Calibre to start the content server. Clicking the dropdown allows you to find the ip address of the server – enter it in Moon + Reader Pro (Menu > Net Library > Calibre Library > Local Calibre)
  5. Attach your Android reading device and download the e-book you just created from the Calibre Library.

Think you’ve got your book ‘perfect’?

The Wicked Bible mistake

Even after going through this process you are still likely to have made or overlooked errors. Professionally printed books contain them. Take consolation in the fact that errors can be corrected in a print-on-demand book or e-book far easier than in a conventionally published book.
You are also unlikely to suffer the fate of the printer who accidentally missed out a crucial ‘not’, producing the ‘wicked bible’. As a result, he was heavily fined and lost his licence to print.

Save the final document

When you’re satisfied with your document, save it again as your master copy. You are now ready for the next step – formatting.

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