Saturday 31 August 2013

Some thoughts on design and formatting

One book I’ve recently been editing and that is now in design had raised a few questions for me and might provide some food for thought for writers. The bottom line is that the now so familiar manuscript looks totally different. As a writer myself I’m used to this phenomenon. What I’ve seen for weeks and weeks as a double-spaced text on A4 sheets is now a single-spaced – or maybe 1.5 or .75 on a 8 x 5 or a 10 x 7 book page. It may even be in a different font. And it looks strange.
Book sizes
This particular book is being produced as an 8 x 5 book. It is 138 pages long as double-spaced A4. Double-spaced A4 often translates to almost exactly the same number of pages in single-spaced for an 8 x 5 book. A 10 x 7 is a few pages less. Which format to choose depends on getting a book that is neither too thin nor too fat. So, up to about 250 pages goes into 8 x 5 and over into the larger format.
Paragraph lengths
It is a little disturbing as we read the design copy of the book mentioned above that some paragraphs go over a page. They did not seem overlong as we read them at the editing stage and they probably read fine anyway. However, they could be off-putting for the reader – especially as this text is aimed at young adults. Sure, many of them can read at quite a sophisticated level but they still want quick pace and instant outcomes. The paragraph that runs over a page may imply that the text slows down. We might need to see if we can justify some paragraph breaks here.
Lessons for writers and publishers
Many writers swear by changing the font and other aspects of the formatting as they edit. That way they see their text in a new light. It’s probably a good idea for editors to do this as well.  

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