Nontroppo's suggestion did the trick!
So, I'm assuming the default behavior is:
> When changing from a style to no style, then bold/italics is preserved.
> When applying no style to a no style paragraph then it gets rid of everything, including bold/italics and character formatting, and applies whatever is the default set in the prefs.
Seems like this is intended behavior, and it's fine.
... apply that kind of modification at the compile stage
That's actually not my concern, as I export to LaTeX (something which I still need to reconfigure, but which I'm very excited about the new options!!).
Is there a solid reason to be using character formatting in your paragraph style? If you can all avoid it do so, that’s the problem. Character formatting is applied equally to the entire paragraph when these two are combined.
Well, I do need italics for scientific terms, emphases etc. So I had hoped that "no style" would act like a paragraph style, but it seems that it combines paragraph, font, and character information.
I might end up doing what nontroppo did, remapping cmd-I and cmd-B to actual character styles (... will figure that out after I get to setting up my export workflows).
And here is probably the only point where I'm thinking that defining a "Normal" style would probably be better than the "No style" style. One of the strengths of the style system (as well as the previous presets system) is imo that one can set paragraph and character information independently and, in addition decide whether to include font information or not (took me a while to figure it out how to best make use of that in Scriv2 but ended up loving it ever since). But there seems to be no such option for "No style".
For example, when I want to change the font/font size/spacing info, etc. for all of the "no styles" sections but not character information like italics/bold, then going to the preferences and changing the default font won't do anything. I have to manually select the no style sections and change the font. Or I manually select and reapply "No style" to those sections after changing the defaults in the preferences – but that will also get rid of character formatting.
Or maybe I still haven't fully understood how no style works?
What would be the big disadvantage of defining a "Normal" style instead of "No style"? According to Keith:
For the main body text, you should just use "No Style". Otherwise, you'll reduce some of the flexibility of Compile for overriding unstyled text.
Can't I just not define any formatting or pre/suffixes for a custom Normal style, which upon export then doesn't do anything?
(Sorry, if this is a bad question, I haven't had the time to look in depth into the new compiler myself.)
In any case thanks so much for the comprehensive input!