Author Topic: A couple of notes on formatting  (Read 1415 times)

Chaos

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A couple of notes on formatting
« on: May 18, 2010, 05:40:45 AM »
Friendly reminder! Remember to save your submissions in .doc file format (if you can't open it, there's www.openoffice.org. Also, how is it you are surviving in the 21st century without an office program?), manuscript format for the text  (double spaced, Times New Roman or Courier font, but above all, consistency in formatting), but perhaps my biggest pet peeve is when people don't format their file names correctly. We've all managed to get the email subject lines perfect so I'd really like everyone to have their usernames on the file itself. Heck, cloning your subject header may work just as well.

Hopefully I'm not being too crazy here with the submission guidelines, but it is very important to have consistency. Above that, each of these guidelines has a rationale to it. .doc's are (unfortunately) the standard of saving office files. Double spacing is for readability. The reason I'm being picky with file names is because when you download a bunch of submissions, I now need to sort through them all. It's really, really nice to have a name with each file so I don't have to keep looking at the email.

Thank you everyone who already does this :)

(Also, most all of these things are in the guidelines outlined in the "Welcome to Reading Excuses" topic, so this isn't terribly surprising. Just wanted to make sure everyone remembers!)
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ryos

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2010, 05:59:57 AM »
Plain text forever!

Also, I've asked before (though not to you), but what are you doing downloading submissions? Make a rule to sort the emails into a folder, and never worry about filenames again.
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Chaos

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2010, 06:16:38 AM »
Eventually I download them all and place them into my "Reading Excuses" folder on my computer. It has a separate folder for each author, so I can keep submissions straight that way, rather than by submission date.
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ryos

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2010, 06:35:17 AM »
I agree that that's useful. In fact, I sort my RE email folder by author, not date.

Don't get me wrong - I'll oblige and put my handle in my filenames. It's just that it seems more sensible to me to use your email client to organize your emails than it does to expend energy trying to convince a group of people to change their behavior.
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Chaos

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2010, 06:39:32 AM »
I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit of a control freak in that regard. Personally, I just like not having to rely upon the internet to download the files and have it locally. In that case, good filenames are your friends.

Some people do format the filenames, some don't. We'll get it consistent eventually :P
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Silk

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2010, 06:41:16 AM »
.rtf (plain text) should also work fine for file format, I believe. Everyone should be able to open that (and for those of us who are fond of MS comments to critique, I'm almost certain that this will still work).

ryos

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2010, 06:50:54 AM »
Please. RTF is NOT plain text. ;D

Also: oh. You must be using webmail. I find it hard to recall that most of the world is crazy, and doesn't mind reading its email in a browser. Personally, I couldn't stand that. I need my dedicated, desktop mail client, which, by virtue of its nature as a desktop application, downloads all mail I receive into a local archive. If I were a webmail serf, I'd probably download RE submissions too.
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lethalfalcon

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2010, 10:40:39 PM »
Just to chime in here (didn't notice this thread had gotten responses):

The reason *I* download the actual files and store them is because you can't add line-edits otherwise. Well, sure, you *can* (although my email client opens any file read-only, so technically I can't anyway), but then you can't save it to email it back to the person. And then I keep the files around, just in case someone wants to question an edit in the future. It also lets me go back to the earlier version when someone asks "Did the changes I made help?" So being able to pull up the old version with my edits, to refresh me on what I was thinking the first time I reviewed it, can be very helpful (and yes, I *technically* could pull up my Sent folder, find the person, and pull the file from there, but hey, I'm a digital pack-rat, and not all people may keep their Sent history like I do).

I could care less about how the files look on my server, as long as your email subject lines say the working title  and part name/number. I can run sorts and filters and searches galore to find certain people if I need to.

I think the real issue here is that rules (no matter how loosely defined) are still rules, and it's only common courtesy to follow them.

As per the document format discussion, .doc files are  supported with Wordpad in Windows Vista and later, so it almost should be the common denominator. Yes, RTF can work, except some people get mangled RTF output when they try to save it as such, and it's worse than no formatting at all. Plain text is just not an option for people-- most people don't even remember the days when you formatted text by doing things like /italics/ and *bold* and _underline_. Not to mention the fact that you can't set line spacing with .txt files. I send all my line-edits back in .doc format, with the notion that if someone really can't read it, they'll let me know. I have yet to receive any complaints.

So that's my 2 cents for today... man, I need to quit spending so much money.
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ryos

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2010, 09:04:15 AM »
This is why I prefer to write in plain text.

TL;DR: You may have noticed that my last submission was in RTF. I didn't author it in RTF, but in plain text with some simple markup, which Ulysses (a writing app) converted to RTF for me. It could as easily have done PDF, or LaTeX, or even .doc. But I didn't have to deal with any formatting directly, just making sure my documents are properly structured and marked up. I find this freaking awesome, and never want to write anything in a word processor ever again.

However, I don't have any issue reading files written in a word processor. I didn't mean my "plain text forever" comment to be taken as an admonishment that everyone should send me only plain text, but rather that that's what I prefer to use when writing.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2010, 09:06:22 AM by ryos »
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Chaos

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2010, 09:36:30 AM »
I do write a lot of dialogue in plain text, and virtually all of my notes are plain text. I *really* like Notepad++ for that.

Needless to say, when actual manuscript writing, I like it to be double spaced and I like to actually see my italics. Using tags isn't the same.
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lethalfalcon

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2010, 11:51:22 AM »
Honestly, I'd almost prefer to *write* in LaTeX, because I can do much more than I ever could in .doc. If only I could just send you .tex files.

I write most of my stuff in a text editor very similar to what this forum's post system has. It supports pretty much anything that HTML allows, and it does so visually (it doesn't use bbcode). If I really wanted to, I could even throw in LaTeX if I had a formula that I just *had* to get in (you know, for all those crazy magic integrals). I used to work with LaTeX formatting college-level science textbooks, so I don't

It's also stored on my server, which has a very good chance of surviving anything short of the entire state of Utah exploding (between the live copy in Salt Lake and the backups in Logan). On top of that, it supports revision control, so I can even go back and look at previous versions if I want to.

If I could manage to find the time to finish it, I think it would be a very great method to resolve this entire problem, by creating a common interface for people to use. Hell, I could even support Ulysses' input methods alongside the default one. Multiple interfaces is just a matter of conversion. The backend stores it as valid XHTML to make it easier to display, but two-way conversion is easy (since it's valid). As it is, you can copy and paste directly from word, oo.org, and wordpad already, and it preserves all the formatting it can (which is pretty much everything). OO.org is actually semantic in nature, if you actually use the styles instead of just increasing font sizes for headers. In your article, you specifically say that HTML wouldn't be good for writing stories. I'd beg to differ, but then again, I can write it in my sleep. Converting from HTML to PDF and RTF is easy. Word's .doc format is a little more difficult because Microsoft likes it that way, but you could use the new XML-based word files pretty easily (since it's practically HTML to start). Openoffice has a command line utility to change files to .odt, or there are classes written in PHP to do the job as well. LaTeX... well, anything can be represented in that, if you have the ambition.

I feel the same way you do, though. I develop web sites for a living, so I'm *very* familiar with semantical systems. Every page I write is valid XHTML. Any and all display is controlled by CSS. I can't stand people who just throw everything into tables and put font tags all over the place. :)

It does seem like this thread has gone on a bit of a tangent. Guess it's back to work for me. :)
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Renoard

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2010, 01:37:23 AM »
I on the other hand am very fond of ODT format with Open Office.  But it will save into .doc.  RTF it doesn't do so well.  One reason for liking odt so much is that on average the same fully formatted text is 1/10th the size of RTF.  But RTF is still the most portable.
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Silk

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2010, 06:32:17 AM »
Please. RTF is NOT plain text. ;D

Forgive me. I misspoke. :P

I'm with Chaos--I'm too used to standard manuscript format now to work another way. I like double spacing and being able to see my formatting instead of just the tags. (And I shudder to think of writing out <p></p> tags for every paragraph. (Shut up. I'm not a programmer. HTML's the only markup language I know. :P)) But I can certainly see the attraction of markup languages  in some cases.

For instance. You know how some publishers want italics to be in italics, and other publishers still want italics to be underlined? Give it a class! Change the style! Done! Whee!

Renoard

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2010, 10:28:02 PM »
I like proprietary markup systems.  I use my own.  It makes final decisions of naming and various other aspects easier.  You can wait till you know your characters better then go back and work through the markups.

However, I have to admit that where a convention exists, I think it's pretty important to stick to it.  The conventional markup for emphasis is to lead and trail the text with an asterisk, for underlining it is to use the '_" underline character to lead and trail (and occasionally to fill spaces in) the text.  I'm not talking about the output (underlines vs italics) just markup.  It would be nice if in a given document either markup, underlining, or italics were used.  But not all caps (unless you use "small caps") or non standard markup.

Another standard markup that I find helpful it to replace the parentheses in parenthetical passages with '--' --double dashes that are not spaced from the text--  like this.

I'm not suggesting we need a style guide, 'cause that would be stifling.  Just making a couple of suggestions that will help me when reading your submissions.
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lethalfalcon

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Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2010, 11:23:46 PM »
That markup system hasn't been used since the days of the typewriter. We should all have editors that can do .doc files, so you can (and should) use the real thing (italics, underlining, etc.).

Also, double dashes are considered an em dash, which is exactly what you should be using for  parenthetical notation, provided you can't use an actual em dash. Word and Openoffice auto-replace it automatically, provided you're using a closed set (no spaces). If you use spaces between, it becomes an en dash instead.
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