1. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    File Formats?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by PeterC, Apr 24, 2012.

    I'm wondering what file format people are using for their manuscripts. I assume MS Word formats (doc or docx) are common but are they universal or even required? When communicating your manuscript to an agent or publisher what is the usual expectation? I could imagine other formats such as PDF or even plain text potentially being an option.

    I'm asking because I'm using an unusual format for my work in progess (LaTeX). Converting my manuscript to MS Word is doable, particularly since I'm still months away from completion. On the other hand I'd hate to have to do the entire conversion at the very end when I thought I was otherwise finished.

    Thanks!
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ms word is the lingua franca of the publishing world, so if you can convert your 'unusual format' [it's really the 'wp program/software' you're using... 'format' is how the text is arranged on the page] to ms word, before submitting your ms, you've no problem, as long as the conversion doesn't affect the actual format... i suggest you test it first, to make sure...

    some agents/editors/publishers may insist on pdf instead, so always check each one's submission guidelines, before submitting...

    hope this helps... love and hugs, maia
     
  3. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    Ok, thanks. That's what I figured. I guess I'll need to learn how to use Word.

    Or maybe not? With all the discussion about e-publishing I wonder if the situation might change in the future. It seems to me that Word (really Office Open XML) is a sub-optimal document format for creating electronic content intended for long term, widespread consumption. The subject is incredibly controversial in some circles and generally devolves into heated discussions about confusing legal issues, both real and imagined. There are people in this world who would rather fall on a sword than produce a document in Office Open XML format (aka an MS Word file). I'm not quite that fanatical but I sympathize with that viewpoint.
     
  4. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    This is getting a little off topic, but I thought I'd follow up one last time on this thread. Since I don't want to edit my entire novel in a single file, I started reading about how to set up a master document in Word. In doing so I stumbled into some discouraging information. In particular the feature apparently corrupts documents sometimes... or at least it did for certain versions of Word. I'm wondering do people here routinely manipulate 100,000 word documents in Word as a single file? It seems like that would be unwieldy.

    Maybe I'll just stick with LaTeX for now. I know how it works and by using it I can spend my time writing rather than learning a new word processing system. Also LaTeX master documents are trivially simple, work perfectly, and scale to huge sizes.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Bluntly, you won't get far that way. Learn to use Word, or something that produces the same output file format. Word is the best bet, because compatibility is never quite perfect.

    If someone requests format X, and your send them format Y insread, expect to get rejected, especially if they receive 1000 items a day and can only use 50. That is the publishing industry. If you don't provide it in the form they request, and they need to thin the inflow, they'll use the simplest filter first.
     
  6. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    Oh, I will definitely submit material in the proper format when that time comes. I'll just put off converting until then. That will give me time to reflect on how to best do it!
     
  7. ShortBus
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    ShortBus Member

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    This site does not permit product endorsements. I suggest you check with the software manufacturer's site to find features or auxilliary products.
     
  8. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    File formats are generally the usual suspects (RTF, DOC, etc.) BUT if you absolutely can't convert, check if they will take postal - a lot will, some won't - depends, but it might get around the conversion issue.

    PROBLEM: Without knowing your software - nearly all standard MS formats describe what they want in terms of word so you would need to be able to produce something that looks suitably like it. All said and done, learning a new processing doc isnt that hard - once you've worked out the font and paragraph settings its pretty much awayyyyyyy you go....
     
  9. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    Conversion is definitely possible. It's just a question of how much work it's going to be. I don't know the answer to that question right now.

    I spent a little time last night looking at publisher web sites to see what kind of requirements they had. Maybe I don't know where to look (very likely) but I had trouble finding specifics about how to submit a manuscript. I did run into one site with detailed information. In that case they don't accept electronic submissions at all and appear to want submissions the old fashion way: on paper. They do give very specific instructions on how to format the pages but I could duplicate that without any problems using my current system. Of course that's just one case.
     
  10. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    @Shortbus: it's not an endorsement, it's a legitimate question, because publishers do require specific formats. I'm sure if it was considered an endorsement, Cogito would have pointed it out.
     

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