Monday, July 06, 2009

More Formatting Questions

I apologize if it's been awhile. I haven't been well/upright much the last two weeks, for reasons unexplained and I wouldn't explain a publishing blog anyway.


* When starting new chapters, do we just make a few returns (so there's obvious white space) or start each new chapter on an entirely new page?

A new chapter should have a new page.

* Also, when changing POV in a scene, I always used to see * * * * * to indicate the switch. Now I sometimes just see white space. Does it matter how you indicate the POV/scene change?

As long as they're space it doesn't really matter, but you can add something like ****s or ##s if you want, as long as it's unobtrusive and doesn't confuse us into thinking we're reading a new chapter.

* I've looked at several agents' blogs, and different agents suggest different footers/headers. Is there a standard? i.e., should it be book title/name or name/book title at the top left? Also, should the page number appear top right or at the bottom?

Standard is:
In the upper right hand corner of the page on every page. Minor alterations to this, such as the author's full name, or reversing the positioning of the title and the last name, or putting it on the bottom of the page, are not a huge problem unless the agent specifically told you what to do on their website and you didn't do it. Then you look lazy/obnoxious.


gabrielle said...

As an editor, I've seen several galleys where "blank space" section breaks from the manuscript were accidentally closed up when it went to layout. I usually recommend #s or *s or something similarly not-obnoxious as section breaks in a chapter, just because it makes things easier down the road, lessening the chance that those deliberate spaces are going to go away somewhere along the process.

Aimee K. Maher said...

Awesome. Thanks.

_*Rachel*_ said...

I suppose we just do a few spaces for email subs?

Good info!

wv: marbuc. Sounds a lot like the Mesopotamian god who like sacrificed children. Sometimes I wonder about these wvs....

suzie said...

awesome! thanks for this :)

catie james said...

The info. in your posts is priceless. Thank you.

mike said...

It's good to see a new post! Some of this stuff seems like nitpicky minutiae, but at the same time it's good to know the standard header format. That's one of those things you would never think of until you wanted to know it.

Anonymous said...

Sure this is standard?

Have only seen:

What would be the point of putting the page number in the middle so it gets lost?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon above concerning the page numbers.

In fact, I believe the page number also is supposed to be in the furthest right hand corner, not directly after the title.

Charlie Ruff said...

Rejecter, I have a question.

I was thinking about how blurbs will sometimes contain an interesting or funny paragraph or two from the book to hook the reader. Something short but attention grabbing.

What would your opinion be if you saw a really short extract like this on a query?

Beth said...

Thanks for answering my questions! I agree with the two Anons about the page # being on the far right. That's how I see it most often.

Also good to hear from the editor who mentioned that white space might get "accidentally" closed up in the layout process.

Great info since I've finished my debut novel and am in the formatting/final edit stage. Thanks.

The Rejecter said...

What would be the point of putting the page number in the middle so it gets lost?

Let me assure everyone that we are fully capable of looking an inch to the left or right to find the authors name or page number. Plus they're really easy to tell apart because one is letters and the other is numbers.

Joanie said...

Hi Ms. Rejecter,
Just a quick note to say, enjoying your facinating blog. I have been one of the 95% blown out of the water by infantry like your good self and completely deserved. My first attempt at the Y.A genre should have remained a draught excluder, but I was euphoric to think that one evening I had typed 400 words and then there were 120,000, some months later. My point is that the effortless prod of your index finger on the send button has such lasting repercussions. Because it involves minimum co-ordination, I pressed it 20 times! The process of writing has been amazing, but I was equally amazed at how much rejection from strangers hurts. I will write some more and I will write better and I will take my offerings to the post office to be sent laboriously to teach me to be discerning! A glass of merlot is not the best friend at two in the morning as you see a distinct likeness between yourself and Stephanie Meyer in it's reflection.
Many Thanks,
Joanie in Ireland.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of putting page numbers at all?

I don't understand. Call me a newb, I am one.

My writing program keeps track of the page numbers in a small bar at the bottom of the document. As you scroll manually or with mousewheel you can see the page count indicator changing, 21/349, 22/349, 23/349

So, the word document is already keeping track of your pages. Why is it not redundant to put the page numbers on the pages? This must be a hold over from sending your manuscript snailmail on a practical medium, like paper.

Then, everything I've read about the actual final edit/publishing process indicates that your final page count could vary widely because (paraphrasing an editor) 'the printing people can do wizardry with fonts, spacing, formats' and so in the end it's the printing press people that know how many pages your book actually turns out to be. Therefore isn't it a waste of the author's time at best and presumptuous at worst to put page numbers up?