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Old 11-06-2011, 11:52 AM   #1
andrewburt
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New tool for Smashwords authors

I wanted to let folks know about a tool we've put up for Smashwords authors to help with the dreaded Nuclear Option that we call the "Nuclear Option Assistant."

We get a lot of crazily formatted .doc files to deal with (we do things like scan/OCR print books for authors or reformat manuscripts they provide, so we have no control over the original), which means we often have to resort to the Nuclear Option. The #1 thing we've found the most annoying about having to employ the Nuclear Option is that it loses all the italics. Grrrr! The other formatting stuff is merely a pain to restore, but ouch! Trying to hunt down all the italics! One little "I" hidden in a paragraph is hard to spot, not to mention there can be hundreds of italicized bits in a novel. Manually marking each to re-italicize takes forever.

That wasn't working for us, so I put on my programmer hat and wrote a program to do it. It takes a .doc file, notes the italics, wipes all the formatting, then restores the italics back, leaving a clean file with just the "Normal" style applied to it, with italics.

Knowing how much of a pain the Nuclear Option is, I thought this "Nuclear Option Assistant" might be of use to others, so I've put it up on our web site as a free tool.

If it's of value to anyone else, you're welcome to use it. It's at: http://ReAnimus.com/fixformat

I hope this helps save people as much gnashing of teeth as it's saved us.
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:42 PM   #2
morriss003
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Thank you

Thanks for that Dr. Burt,
Your effort shows how the ebook digital process is still evolving. Imagine the day that you can upload to smashwords and in a few days your work will be listed at Baidu in China, perfectly translated and available for sale
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:45 PM   #3
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a lot of italics (use it for telepathic dialog) so have never used the Nuke Option (tm).

I will definitely have to play with this tool. Thanks!!!!
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:57 PM   #4
John Carroll
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This is wonderful. Thank you. I wish I had had it 2 months ago when I nuked a large novel with tons of italics.

Is there anyway you can get it to keep the bold and underlined words too?
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:52 PM   #5
teh603
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Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a lot of italics (use it for telepathic dialog) so have never used the Nuke Option (tm).

I will definitely have to play with this tool. Thanks!!!!
I wonder how people handled thought before typewriters could italicize. Anyone remember?

I'll be honest, in a few pieces that I've put up on the GPL that originated in .txt, I've used < diagonal brackets > and its sorta worked, but its not too satisfying and grates against my sensibilities. Maybe lobby to get the next Unicode extension to include italic, boldface, and underline character sets instead of another set of Mahjongg tiles?
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
I wonder how people handled thought before typewriters could italicize. Anyone remember?
We loaded the paper crooked.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:15 AM   #7
andrewburt
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In the days BW (Before Word), monks hand-lettered the italic fonts into blank spaces left on the typewritten page.

(Serious answer, people used the underscore _ to underline on typewriters. Underlining was thus typesetter's code for "italics"; and that's what was expected in manuscript format. Online, to simulate that, people often put "_"s in front and back, like _this is in italics._ Having done that since I was a wee lad, I find I _still_ do it; and it's still the syntax I recommend for use in the Critters workshop, where text is the least common denominator format.)
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:22 AM   #8
andrewburt
Science Fiction Writer
andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.andrewburt can talk all four legs off a donkey... then persuade it to go for a walk.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Carroll View Post
This is wonderful. Thank you. I wish I had had it 2 months ago when I nuked a large novel with tons of italics.

Is there anyway you can get it to keep the bold and underlined words too?
My pleasure, and I'll see if bold/underlined can fit in. Hmm. The thing is that for in-house use, we almost always want to remove those specifically. (Since bold and underlining come from OCRing as artefacts that drive us nuts. Or if it's a manuscript we're working with, then we convert underlines to real italics; net result still being no underlines in place.) Most of the texts we do don't have any intentional final-format underlining or bolding in them, so if we did encounter that we'd just add those back by hand in those rare cases. I understand where it'd be useful to others, though, so I'll see what I can do.

Last edited by andrewburt; 11-11-2011 at 12:26 AM.
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:03 AM   #9
VydorScope
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewburt View Post
In the days BW (Before Word), monks hand-lettered the italic fonts into blank spaces left on the typewritten page.

(Serious answer, people used the underscore _ to underline on typewriters. Underlining was thus typesetter's code for "italics"; and that's what was expected in manuscript format. Online, to simulate that, people often put "_"s in front and back, like _this is in italics._ Having done that since I was a wee lad, I find I _still_ do it; and it's still the syntax I recommend for use in the Critters workshop, where text is the least common denominator format.)
You also could swap out the hammers with italic ones... but I think I will stick with Word.
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