Writers: Please Don’t Do These Things…

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New client emailed that the author of one article accepted for her employer’s latest anthology (employer is an academic press) has entered a section break at the bottom of every page.

Understand, these articles run upwards of 35 pages.

Not only that, but he entered random paragraph breaks all over the  place — in the middle of grafs.

Before she can send it to us for copyediting and documentation formatting, she has to go through the entire damn thing and remove every section break and every irrational paragraph break; then go through and correct the paragraph formatting and presumably try to figure out what the correct pagination is supposed to be.

Dollars do donuts the guy entered those section breaks in an attempt to force do-it-yourself footnotes to fit at the bottom of the pages. If so, when she deletes them, she will generate a Mess for the Ages.

Why do people do that? And who can second-guess such silliness?

Don’t enter wacky commands in Word. If you don’t know how to make Word do what you want it to do, either take a course in using Word or hire someone who does know how to use Word.

Please, dear authors…

Don’t…

Enter superscript letters and try to manually stick footnotes at the bottom of the page or at the end of the MS as endnotes.

Do…

Use Word’s footnoting function: Insert > Footnote
This function will allow you to select footnotes or endnotes, as desired.

footnote

Don’t…

Enter a hard tab (i.e., press the tab key) at the beginning of every paragraph.

Do…

Format your paragraphs so the first line is automatically indented: Format > Paragraph > Special. In this menu, select “First Line.” Word will default to indent 1/2 inch, but you can change that if you wish  (in the pulldown menu next to “First Line” that says “By…”).

Don’t…

Create hanging indents in your References section by hitting a the return key at the end of each line and hitting the tab key at the beginning of each subsequent line.

hangingindent

Do…

Select “hanging indent”  in Word’s paragraph formatting function: Format > Paragraph > Indents and Spacing > Special > hanging.

functionhangingindent

Don’t…

Hit the space bar twice after every period, question mark, exclamation point, colon, or anything else you can dream up.

Do…

Enter one (1) space after punctuation. A word processor is not a typewriter; with word processors we only enter a single space after all those punctuation marks. Typewriters used nonproportional spacing, and typists learned to enter two spaces after periods and the like to make it easier to see the ends and beginnings of sentences. Word processors allow you to typeset copy; typesetting does not place two spaces after punctuation.

Don’t…

Don’t EVER hit the “space” bar over and over to enter an indent, either at the beginning of a paragraph or to line up numbers in a column.

indent

If you do this, I personally will wring your neck.

And Don’t…

Use the space key or the space and tab keys to line up numbers or blocks of copy in columns or on a page.

No attempt to align numbers

list-2Attempt to align with spaces.
These will squirrel around…
Trust me!

Do…

Use the Table function to align numbers.

list-3Numbers & copy aligned in a table

list-4

How they’ll look in print
or with the table grid turned off.
These figures will stay put!

Don’t…

Use Turabian for your documentation unless specifically asked to do so by your publishers.

Some schools encourage students to use Turabian for theses and dissertations. Real publioshers do not use Turabian. They use MLA, APA, or Chicago style, or they use a style manual specific to their academic discipline.

Turabian, as Purdue notes, “follows the two CMS [Chicago Manual of Style] patterns of documentation but offers slight modifications suited to student texts.”

When you use Turabian, some wretched editor has to waste time searching out and correcting every one of those “slight modifications.” Please. Get it right to start with.

Do…

Determine what style manual your publisher uses and do likewise. If you’re an academic writer, buy the style manual appropriate to your discipline. If you contribute to or write books, buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. If you’re a wannabe magazine writer, buy a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook.

Whichever manual is appropriate to your job, use  it!

Don’t…

Include items in your “References” or “Works Cited” section that are not cited as sources in text. An article or book chapter is not a Ph.D. dissertation: you’re not trying to prove how widely read you are to some committee.

Do…

In your “References” or “Works Cited, include only the sources you’ve cited in the body of your text. If you want to include a complete bibliography in your book, don’t call it “References.” Try “Bibliography”or “Recommended Reading” instead.

One could go on and on. Unfortunately, though, I have work to do.  Please don’t make extra work for me! Learn to use your word processor as a word processor. If that’s beyond your ken or you just don’t have time to fiddle with it, hire a virtual assistant to type your final manuscript before submitting it to an editor.

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2 thoughts on “Writers: Please Don’t Do These Things…

  1. Lisa

    I’m laughing and sadly identifying with many of your don’ts and now lucky me I can make some easy improvements! Thanks!

  2. funny Post author

    LOL! That’s good to hear…i think! <3 Word is not as self-evident as it seems...a little knowledge of that critter is a dangerous thing.

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