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I have come to the conclusion that the fine folks at Microsoft have conspired to kill me.  :'(

I wanted to publish some updates to one of my books, and when I opened the file to make the edits, all the formatting was gone. I haven't touched the file in over a year. Everything was fine at that time. This isn't the first time this has happened, either. It's really frustrating!

I so want a Mac. 



 

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Yeah, sometimes I wonder how many authors microsoft has murdered via suicide-a-la-frustration.

You and I have seen the edge, my friend.
 

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I know this isn't what you're going to want to hear today, but I'll stick my head over the parapets and suggest reworking it in Scrivener.

For my first novel, I used Scrivener, then exported to Word and did all of my final formatting tweaks for mobi file there. Problem for me was if I wanted to change the CTA or correct a late typo, I was back in Word fixing. All the while my scrivener file was getting more and more behind the Word version. Plus, I just didn't trust Word.

There are lots of people who are OK with using Scrivener to take care of the formatting for ebooks, and I'm now one of them.

In the meantime, big hugs. Everything's sortable.
 

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Are your backups corrupted as well? I would try opening the file on a different computer just to be sure this isn't something that is happening to the file when you open it, rather than already in the file itself.
 

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I feel your pain. I too have come close to ending it all after a similar problem with--guess what--Scrivener. Except that I lost much more than formatting. Dr. Kavorkian was playing golf that day, so luckily I got over it.

The first thing I'd do is open the original .doc file in OpenOffice Writer (free) and see if the problem is in the .doc file itself.
The second thing I'd do is save it from OO to their .odt format, stick with OO, and never look at Word again.

Assuming your book is a novel, there aren't many styles you need to use. Body paragraph, first paragraph chapter/scene, your scene breaker line, and chapter headings about cover it all. Inside the text, you need italics every now and then You'll want to tweak your front matter to make it pretty, too. I made a custom template for OO, and each new chapter opens with that template as the default.

Good luck with the recovery, however you do it.
 

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If you've lost just the formatting and not the text, this might be a good time to convert to a non-proprietary format like Markdown, which is basically just a lightly-enhanced text format. That will free you from the vagaries of any particular product from any particular publisher and you'll have the ability to write and edit on any platform (desktop or mobile).

ETA: Markdown can be automatically converted into a wide variety of other formats, including Word and ePUB.
 

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Time to start backing up your docs on a flashdrive just to be safe! It might be an update that screwed it up.

Did you try repairing Word to see if that fixed the problem?
 

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When I worked for Dell, I received many calls about MSWord.  My best guess is that your styles are overwritten or corrupt.  There is a hidden file called normal.dot that saves your settings and styles.  If you overwrote this file by saving a new default style set, reinstalled or upgraded your version of MSWord this can happen.  It can also get messed up for any number of other reasons if you have the whole MSOffice suite installed.
 

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Crenel said:
If you've lost just the formatting and not the text, this might be a good time to convert to a non-proprietary format like Markdown, which is basically just a lightly-enhanced text format. That will free you from the vagaries of any particular product from any particular publisher and you'll have the ability to write and edit on any platform (desktop or mobile).

ETA: Markdown can be automatically converted into a wide variety of other formats, including Word and ePUB.
Good idea. Or might I suggest rtf (rich text format), which is very vanilla, and the standard has been publicly available for many years, and for me has been a good way to go back and forth between editing tools and their various versions.
 

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Al Stevens said:
[T]here aren't many styles you need to use. Body paragraph, first paragraph chapter/scene, your scene breaker line, and chapter headings about cover it all.
I agree, that pretty much does it for almost all fiction. I would only add a non-indented centered Style, too. I use it mostly for front matter.

Inside the text, you need italics every now and then.
I would add that bold is needed once in a while, too.

The problem with this simplicity is that it forces an author to realize that he or she can't hide inside fancy formatting. The success or failure of the writing is… in the writing. And that can be scary.
 
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