BASED ON A TRUE STORY
The scriptorium (writing room) at the Abbey of Our Lady of Perpetual Wordage, 835 A.D.. Monks are seen diligently copying text into new volumes. The chief scribe, Brother Mark, is meeting with Brother John about the Abbot’s new book, which he hopes will become a new best-seller. Brother John has been transcribing it for the last several weeks.
BROTHER MARK: He wants to make a couple of teeny, tiny changes.
BROTHER JOHN (suddenly tense): Ah… And what would those be?
BROTHER MARK: A couple of words to add to chapter one, in the second paragraph…
BROTHER JOHN: Aaaaaah! [He throws the ink pot through a nearby window, then sits silently weeping, taking care not to drip tears onto the parchment.]
Scribes had it rough, but even after the invention of movable type, late revisions to a text were as welcome as rats in a restaurant. Metal type was set by hand, assembled line by line and locked into frames ready for printing. Even a “teeny, tiny” change at that point was simply too expensive to be allowed. (A health-and-safety exception might be made in cases where the czar’s or emperor’s name had been misspelled.) Computerized typesetting makes it less difficult and less expensive to edit, update, revise and otherwise second-guess the text of a book or article. “Less difficult” doesn’t mean “easy,” however; nor does “less expensive” mean “cheap.” It’s still important to get things right before you commit the text to typesetting. The manuscript you send to your designer should be in final form. Continue reading
A manuscript you submit to a publisher or literary agent will follow certain guidelines — plain fonts, black text on white paper, no fancy formatting, generous margins and double-spaced lines. Individual publishers have their own preferred submission format, which you’ll find quite easily on their website. Any of these apply when you submit to an agent, because variations are minor. Writer’s Digest has a wealth of information you can browse.
But what if you plan to self-publish? Continue reading
For a typical author, it’s all about the content. That’s as it should be. Creating a book of any kind, whether it’s a novel, a how-to, or a travel book, takes a tremendous amount of creativity, thought and hard work. The last thing an author wants to think about, usually, is the mechanics of production or how the finished product will look. It’s all there in deathless prose, in that big Microsoft Word or Apple Pages file. The work is done. What else could there be? Continue reading
I’ve mentioned before that it’s important to choose your typefaces (not “fonts,” which are particular styles, like bold or italic, of a given typeface) carefully and not simply accept the defaults offered by Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. This goes for your business letters and for your advertising, packaging and signage. Continue reading
When I’m consulting with businesses about the “look” of their corporate communications, one of the hot questions is always, “Which font should we use?” In an earlier Creative Tips post I touched on this subject as far as saying “At least don’t use the defaults” without going into much detail as to how you would decide on one.
Most companies, except for some very large ones, prefer to stick with the fonts that come with their computer, or with their Office software suite, whether it’s Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Libre Office or something else. But, even so, click on that Font drop-down arrow and the list goes on and on. Does it matter which one you use? How would you know? And what about headings – should they use a different typeface, or a larger version of the same one used for text? Continue reading
There are some things you should never do when typing documents in Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or any other word processing app. Some of these avoidables may be deeply-ingrained habits. Some may invoke a cry of, “But I’ve always done it that way and nobody ever complained!” All of them will lead you down a slippery slope, into bad typographic neighborhoods from which few return unscarred. Best to just say “No” in the first place.
Here is one that’s not hard to fix, and will make your business letters look just that much more professional than your competitor’s (who, it must be pointed out, doesn’t read this blog). Continue reading
Trade shows are an important way for many businesses to reach their audience and generate interest in their products, but they have an equally important downside: they’re a very expensive investment. Unless you can coax jaded, footsore show attendees into your display, you can’t even get a conversation started. And that can mean your big investment just went up in smoke. For a graphic designer, that’s a challenge and an opportunity. In the case of Anna Elyse, the brand name under which fashion designer Annie Sokoloff markets her innovative line of bridesmaid dresses, it was also a chance to work with someone who is ferociously creative in her own right. Continue reading