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The moderncv package does not recognize \it command. Sure we can use \textit instead. The problem is that BibTeX generated files may contain \it commands ...

So, edition of the bbl file is required to change all the \it commands into \textit command. The same is true for other commands of the same type: \rm, \bf and so on.

Is there a way to force BibTeX to use \textit instead of \it or to force moderncv to understand \it?

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That’s not an issue with \moderncv; the commands have been obsolete since LaTeX2e. Among other problems, \bf and \it don’t nest or respect the font-selection scheme.

The replacement in modern LaTeX is \itshape, and its semantics are probably what you really want. If you insist on \it as an alias, there’s \newcommand (But that’s a bad idea because then old code will expect different behavior.). If you must restore the original command, \DeclareOldFontCommand, but you would be shooting yourself in the foot.

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If the \it is inserted by some bibtex style you can certainly adapt this: Save the bst under another name, then search for the \it and replace it e.g. \itshape or whatever is sensible.

Beside this you are quite allowed to define an undefined command in whatever way you see fit.

If the \it is used only for text, then \newcommand\it{\normalfont\itshape} or \newcommand\it{\itshape} is probably a sensible replacement, if it is used also in math then you could use

\DeclareOldFontCommand{\it}{\normalfont\itshape}{\mathit}

or

\DeclareOldFontCommand{\it}{\itshape}{\mathit}

The variants with \normalfont fake the old behaviour of \it better, without it it works like the modern \itshape and allows nesting with other font commands.

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