Friday, 23 September 2011
The Proof is in the Manuscript...
I'm doing a lot of proofing and editing at the moment as my writing group, Writers Abroad is producing it's second anthology, Foreign Flavours. And through this process I am learning a lot about formatting manuscripts - what not to do in the main. Here are just three habits that have driven me crazy! So if you are entering an anthology submission or even a short story please think of the poor editor in the back room with eyes that look like that snake from The Jungle Book... this is exactly how I look at this moment!
Firstly, don't ever use the tab key to indent first lines. As you know first line indentation is the form of presentation (except for the very first line in a story/chapter) for our craft. And if you use tabs this messes up the manuscript when it needs to be formatted into a PDF or equivalent for printing. Use the 'line spacing options' in word and set it as a form for the whole document. Then you won't have to worry about it and I wouldn't have to spend hours removing the tab spacing, manually.
Secondly it used to be the done thing to enter two spaces after a full stop. I'm not sure of the logic behind it but I'm sure it probably had something to do with the typesetting process, which is now all changed. Again this messes up the presentation but I know for some people, ahem, of a more wiser (and older) generation, do this as a matter of habit. So I forgive you...
Thirdly, please, please don't use fancy fonts, patterned 'paper', borders or colours in your submission.It not only plays havoc with the eyes, but it doesn't make the submission look any more 'professional'. Keep it Simple... as the old saying goes.
I think the key thing is to read the guidelines and follow them! I know this is like teaching Grandmother to suck eggs but it needs to be said! I religiously follow the guidelines for each submission I make and if not use the standard format that is recommended. It can be a bit tedious but it means that your story will be more likely read by a calm and open editor rather than by a frazzled one!