Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lessons in Word: Italics vs Underlines

The question of Italics versus Underlines keeps coming up lately. In recent blog posts, and discussions of “standard” manuscript formatting. And last night, at my critique group, I was told that I should always underline and not italicize. I guess its some holdover to the days of typewriters and typesetters that had to manually copy a manuscript, and could easily miss italicized words.

I use italics. They’re easy to read, and underlines just look funny to me. Like a character is shouting, not quietly thinking. I’m a rebel, I know.

But even I don’t flaunt rules without a fall back plan. You see, if you use Word, you can change all your italics to underlines in about 30 seconds. Seriously. Well, if your MS is 120,000 words, and your charcters do a lot of thinking, give yourself a minute or two.

Here’s how:

  • From the Edit menu, select Replace.

  • In the Find and Replace dialog, click the More button at the bottom. The dialog should grow a little taller and have more options.

  • Click on the empty text box next to “Find What”. Don’t type, just make sure your cursor is blinking in the box.

  • Now click the Format button at the very bottom of the dialog. From the popup menu, select Font.

  • A Find Font dialog should appear, with lots of options. Under Font Style, highlight Italic. Leave all other options untouched. Click OK.

  • Back in the Find and Replace dialog, under the Find What, you should see a note that says “Format: Font: Italic”

  • Now click into the text box next to “Replace With:” Again, don’t type, just make sure your cursor is blinking there.

  • Select that Format button again, and select Font again. Under Font Style, select “Regular”. Then under Underline Style lower down, choose the solid line (or the underline style of your choice). Click OK.

  • Now under “Replace With”, it should say something like “Font: Not Bold, Not Italic, Underline”

  • Click Replace All

  • When it’s done, skim through the manuscript. All those pesky italics that will surely lose you a publishing contract are gone.

  • Don’t forget to save your work!

1 comment:

Amethyst Willow said...

That's a neat trick. I always felt underlining was completely different to italics. It definitely looks like shouting not emphasising. Well done on NaNo btw :D