Basic Book Design/Introduction

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How to help with this book[edit]

I wrote "Basic Book Design" using Microsoft Word. I don't have time to reformat it as a wikibook but I welcome anyone who volunteers to do that. You can download my MS Word file from my website. The file is 1.9MB. Pick a chapter you want to work on, pull it from the MS Word file, put it into the wikibook and clean up the formatting.--Thomas David Kehoe 03:09, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Who is this book for[edit]

This book is for those wishing to learn about Basic Book Design. It is pitched at an American audience. Many elements of book design - typesetting, copyediting, etc. - are different in North America from the rest of the English-speaking world, so this book may not be suitable for non-American readers.

Traditional Rules vs. "Keep Out Of Trouble" Rules[edit]

Often in this book you'll see two, or even three, rules regarding an issue. For the traditional rules of book design, we refer to the Chicago Manual of Style. When we refer to such a rule, we list the chapter and paragraph number from the Chicago Manual of Style (e.g., 12.34), so you can look up the rule. (We're using the 14th edition.)

We also explain what word processors — in particular Microsoft Word — do. Sometimes word processors follow rules different from traditional rules. And often we present novice or "keep out of trouble" rules. These are rules that novices should follow to avoid making awful, obvious, knock 'em dead mistakes. And, usually, the Chicago Manual of Style lists 14 pages of exceptions to our rule. Professional book designers shouldn't follow our "keep out of trouble" rules.

The rules for choosing between the rules is, if you understand the traditional rules, follow them. If you don't understand the traditional rules, follow our "keep out of trouble" rules.

If you follow our "keep out of trouble" rules, 99.9% of your readers won't notice that you didn't follow traditional rules. Many of the traditional rules are arcane, and known only by book industry professionals. But remember that you may have to "sell" your book to key book industry professionals — e.g., book reviewers — who'll notice amateur typesetting.

In a few places we'll suggest new ideas that we thought of. These aren't rules.