Microsoft Word Tip: How to save italics!

March 30, 2012 | Writing Tools, Writing Business, Ebook Formatting, Indie Publishing, Writing Software Programs | 17 comments

A while back I did a post on how to format an ebook with Microsoft Word as your starting place. Since writing that I discovered a great tip that makes the process even easier, how to save italics when you have to strip all formatting from the original file.

If you have gone through the process, you know the worst part of taking an old manuscript and converting it into a clean Microsoft Word Doc file, which can either be uploaded to Smashwords or saved as web page filtered html and then pulled into Calibre, etc, is keeping track of those italics.

So here is a tip for how to save italics in Microsoft Word. It will allow you to give your manuscript the nuclear blast (copying into Notepad) to remove all formatting and still not have to go back and manually re-insert all of the italics.

how to save italics microsoft word

Start with the original manuscript. I do this the very first thing, BEFORE anything else listed in the How to Format an Ebook with Microsoft Word post.

Open Find or hit Control/F

1.) In Find Window: Leave box blank but go to More–>Format–>Font–>Font Style. Click ITALIC. Hit OK.
2.) In Replace Window: QQQ^&QQQ

Select all, copy/paste into Notepad. Copy/paste back into a new Word document.

Now, select all, hit “clear all” to make sure you remove all styles. (You can check this by having your document map open. If there are no styles, nothing should show there. If something does, hit “clear all” again.)

With EVERYTHING SELECTED hit “Body” in your stylesheet.

Now you can proceed with putting your italics back.

Go to Find or hit Control/F

1.) Select “use wildcards”
2.) In Find Window: (QQQ)(*)(QQQ)
3.) In Replace Window: 2 with your body italics style chosen. (You will have to have built this style. You can just choose italics in the same place you did before and convert all italics to a stylesheet later using find/replace if you like.) To get to styles here go to More–>Format–>Style–>Body Italics (or whatever you named your italics style). Hit OK.

Voila! Everything that was in italics before is again and you can proceed with adding your other styles, page breaks, etc.


Lori Devoti is the multi-published author of romantic comedy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She also writes the Dusty Deals Mystery series under the pen name Rae Davies. Look for her workshops at Write by the Lake (DCS University of Wisconsin), at RWA conferences and meetings, and here at the How To Write Shop. For more information, visit her website.


  1. Lori Devoti

    Thanks, Stacey! I’m glad it was helpful. It has certainly made the process a lot more enjoyable for me.

  2. John Chapman

    Hi Lori

    Good stuff but I am trying to format my wife’s books done in word 2003 on my mac which runs Word for Mac 2011. Have you tried this in this version?

    Can’t see how this can be done with the dastardly new find facility the geeks at microsoft have handed down to us.



  3. Lori

    Unfortunately, John, I can’t help you on that. As they say in the commercials… “I’m a PC.” ;-)

  4. Matt

    Trying to do this in Word 2010, don’t see a Body style sheet (and can’t find info on it with a Google search). I can bring up styles and, once I’ve set it to show all styles, I can see Body Text, but if I click on it, it applies that style to the body. Or is that the point? I’m supposed to apply the Body text style to the text???

  5. Lori Devoti

    I’m glad you found a way that works for you. I didn’t read the article you linked to, but I will warn you that in the past when I didn’t set up a style for italics and just used the italics font type, once the book was converted into an actual epub or mobi file all the words in italics looked funky – like a smaller font than everything else.

    It doesn’t matter what you call your italics style “body italics” is just what I like to use, but I do think it is important that you use an actual style and not just the font type icon button.

    Best of luck!!


  6. Barney

    This is some POWERFUL Black Magic! It worked! This is going to save me a lot of time! Thanks Lori!

  7. Lori Devoti

    Glad it worked for you! :)

  8. TM Nielsen

    Hooolllly wow. This information is going to save me hours!! Do you know how much of a pain it is to try and re-italicize parts of a manuscript that’s over 250k words long?? Thank you!

  9. Alexa

    I wish I’d seen this before doing the nuclear option and single-handedly changing everything back to italics in my 400+ pgs word manuscript :(
    Ahhh you’re a life saver! Thank you!!
    I will share this on my social media, there’s a lot of writers out there with the same issues :)

    Author of Avalon Dreams

  10. Meagan

    I have a question after entering the QQQ… do you hit “replace all” or leave the window open?

  11. Lori Devoti

    I’m not sure what you are asking, but I think the answer is replace all.

  12. David Kinsella

    Great tip. I have this article saved and I come back to it often! I suppose with a little adjustment this trick could be done for all kinds of formatting someone might want to translate (in the older moving from one place to another meaning) into another document.

  13. David Kinsella

    Just figured something out that will make this tip even better. Once you have the dialogue box open just press CTRL+SHIFT at the same time and press I and it will select italics for you.

    I did this by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+H by mistake to open the Find and Replace box instead of just pressing CTRL+H. It showed the format “hidden” and I knew it should work with I for italics and B for bold and so on.

  14. David Kinsella

    Don’t even need shift. Just Ctrl+I.

  15. David Kinsella

    This page was moved and does not redirect here. I had it saved and it just shows an error page. I assumed you had deleted the website until I did a Google search.

    In relation to my previous comment what I meant was in relation to your instructions above: “1.) In Find Window: Leave box blank but go to More–>Format–>Font–>Font Style. Click ITALIC. Hit OK” All you really need to do it place your cursor in the find box and hit Ctrl+I.

    Since this page was moved an error has also crept in. You need to put \ before the 2 in the replace box, otherwise it will not work. It will look like this \2


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