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Editing Checklist for Books
It's finally done — The Book. Weeks, months, even years have gone into your delicately crafted labor of love, and now at long last, it's ready to be published. Or is it? When you publish your book, there are a number of things you must do — make the table of contents, format your manuscript, design a cover. But hidden in these things are a number of elements that are very easy to overlook:
Subtle differences in fonts, size and spacing can make your book difficult to read and gives it a sloppy look. The best way to prevent this is to maintain your manuscript in a single file. When you make a change, make it to the entire document. This also makes it easier to number the pages.
- Page Size
When you upload your document to our book wizard, our software changes your manuscript into a PDF file of the appropriate size for your book. If your document's page size is different from your book's page size, it will have to be resized and the formatting is likely to suffer. Text can be moved, shrunk, or enlarged to meet the new size specifications. Your page count may also change which may impact your page numbering and affect the cost of your book. To avoid this problem, set your document's page size to match the page size of your book.
Using the 'Select All' features of your editor (MS Word, usually) you should select a common, easy-to-read serif font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Use this single font across all chapters. You can use a slightly different font for chapter titles and such, but in general, stick to a single font.
- White Space
Look at your cover and your content. Is there plenty of border (white space) around your text? At the start of each chapter, try pushing your text down to the halfway point on the page and center the chapter title in the middle of the now empty space on the top of the page. Be sure to give yourself at least 1" borders all around.
- Initial Caps
When you start a chapter, use initial caps (often called drop caps). That's when the first letter in a chapter is very large, spanning 2-3 lines. Editing tools such as MS Word have a Drop Caps option under the Format menu. Don't get too carried away — you don't want to lose readability. Raised and Adjacent caps are subtle variations on this very distinctive typesetting tool.
- New Pages
If you have used the Enter/Return key to begin new pages, i.e. for chapter headings, you may find that your chapters begin at the bottom of the page before them. Using actual Page Break commands (CTRL-Enter in Microsoft Word, or Insert --> Break --> Page Break if you use the menu) will eliminate this problem, and begin pages exactly where you want them. This is especially advisable for books which contain full-page images. Sandwiching the image between two page break commands will ensure it remains alone on its page.
- Headers and Footers
Start your page numbering so that page one is on your right as you look at the book. Headers and footers should be unobtrusive. Traditionally, the left headers (even pages) are the book title and right headers (odd pages) are chapter title. The first page of a chapter should have a blank header. MS Word has its most useful header and footer controls in Page Setup under the File menu.
- Lines Per Page
Too many lines per page can make a book very difficult to read. For a 6" x 9" book, less than 30 lines per page is good. 50 lines or less is good for an 8.5" x 11" book. You can set these across your document by using 1.5 line spacing using the Paragraph tools under the Format menu.
- Paragraph Formatting
It's easy to forget, since people don't do it on e-mail, but you should always indent paragraphs. That's why there's a tab key! You should also pay close attention to the spacing between paragraphs. There should be no space between paragraphs that take place in the same time and place. Don't forget to justify your paragraphs!
Finally, most books lose a little of the readable page to the gutter, the inside margin. Microsoft Word allows you to compensate for this in Page Setup under the File menu. Set your document for Mirror Margins, Whole Document, and make the gutter 0.2 or 0.3, depending on the thickness of your book. Get your text out of the gutter!
NOTE: Be sure to upload only non-password protected documents. The printer cannot access password protected files and will not be able to print your book.