I spent nearly 48 hours preparing an ebook for Lulu. I was writing it in rtf, but the formatting is a little messed up (from cutting and pating text from other pdfs I've produced). I was doing it in that format, because I was going to set it up for epub, but I coudln't figure out how to set the contents with heading styles. I was using a very basic rtf writer that comes with windows. After that I decided to just go with pdf until I could figure it out. When I pasted the text into the new pdf in indesign the strange formatting carried over. I didn't bother fixing it as I went because I wanted all the content in there first.
I'm just wondering is there a way to auto format the text, some way of highlighting the text, and using a menu option to set it to the way it would have been if I had of just typed it into the text layers by hand?
Not nearly enough information here.
There are a lot of ways to apply styles to exisiting text, but they depend on you doing some careful work, especially in setting up the styles.
If you've built a style for everything (a good idea), and you've used the "next style" attribute in the definition, you can highlight a continuous block of text and right-click a paragraph style name in the Paragraph Styles panel nad choose Apply <stylename> and Next Style and the entire block will be stylesed using wahtever cascading next styles are defined.
If the text is formatted, but styles are not assigned, and there is some sort of unique attribute to each style or to the text to whaich a particular style should be assigned, then there's a good chance you can use Find/Change to find the attribute and assign the style.
if i understand you correctly....
yes, using the find/change. You can find all text frames (object tab) and change object format to a preformatted style.