1. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    The difference between paragraphs in printed books and paragraphs online

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mike Cornelison, Apr 28, 2012.

    The difference between paragraphs in printed books and paragraphs online is obviously an indent on the printed books at each paragraph, with no blank line between the paragraphs and no indent online with a blank line between. (Online reading also tends to use much shorter paragraphs than the typical printed paragraph.)

    I'm getting far enough into an online novella that I'm starting to visualize it in eBook form and a print run even if just to have copies to hold in my hands and hand out to friends, but I'm wondering if it's a must that I reformat the online version for the printed page. Are most books released in digital and printed versions split between the two formats?

    Funny thing is, most everything I "read" now is audiobook, so I really wouldn't know.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In manuscript, your text is always double-spaced. You indent the first line of each paragraph a half inch or a centimeter depending on whether you prefer English or metric measurements, and no extra blank lines between paragraphs.

    How paragraphs are rendered in the final medium is up to the publisher, and may change from one medium to another. A particular magazine may have a different preference than another, and one paperback publisher may prefer to keep the leading indent whereas another won't.

    Unless you are self-publishing, you needn't worry about it. If you are self-publishing, you will need to research the medium you intend to publish in.
     
  3. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    Didn't even think of the distinction between the format of printed and the manuscript that gets sent to the publisher. Definitely looking to self-publish for starters though and see how that goes, so I'll have to research the mediums a bit more.
     
  4. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    All of the books on my kindle use the normal indent at the beginning of the paragraph like regular books.

    The reason we use a double space between paragraph online is because it's easier to read this way and every different site has different formats and doesn't always recognize the actual indent whether you're uploading it or copy and pasting it. At least, that's the way I understand it.
     
  5. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    Hmmm . . . so Kindle, digital format though it is, still prefers the indent. I do all my writing straight to blog, including this new large-scale novel or novella project, so as long as I've really been writing indents have never even been an option, but maybe shifting to a novel format, I should stop with the WordPress and get it into Word. Seems it would be a lot easier to get it with the indents in Word from the beginning as opposed to reformatting from WP when it's done.
     
  6. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    I don't know if it's Amazon's request, it's all either by a publisher or self-published, but they all tend to indent. What I have at least. There have been some funny looking formats, I'll admit where it's indented and spaced between paragraphs. Generally though, it carries over the traditional layout of an actual novel. Mainly because, despite the fact that it is an ebook, I still want it to look like an actual book. Which is why I use the normal old kindles and not the wild new touchscreen ones.
     
  7. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    Alright, this thing has to get out of the WordPress and into a word processor it looks like. Thanks for the heads up.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are other reasons for using a double space and no indent. Some designers think that indents look scrappy and old-fashioned, and prefer a uniform left edge. The downside is that when a paragraph starts on a new page it can be hard to tell. None of that affects the MS the questioner submits but might be relevant if self-publishing.
     
  9. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    I was visualizing what would that look like to have a printed book with no indents and double-spacing between the paragraphs but now I think it's best to scrap that idea.

    Personally, don't think I'll be doing manuscripts, I'm of a mind to see if I might be able to make something of the DIY model, I've heard some encouraging stories on that end, but it is interesting because I really didn't know those manuscripts were getting typed up all double-space lines like a college paper. (I honestly was visualizing the writers were typing it pretty much the way you see it in the book!)
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Self publishing is a shiny trinket. Attractive, but of very little real value.

    Yes, you will find a few success stories. Some of them may even be true. But the truth is it's an expensive way to get your writing in a tangible form to nearly no one.

    I recommend holding out for real publishing. When you succeed that way, you will know you have tryuly accomplished something other than grease a few willing palms. There are many who will eagerly take your money for services that really don't accomplish much.
     
  11. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    I've never sent anything in, but I have looked at some of what they advertise and I love the way how some of these "publishers" (who are really just printing presses) make it seem as if you'd be submitting your manuscript for review, as if they won't print anything you send their way if you've got the money to do it.

    Doing it DIY had somewhat of a romantic feel to it, but I'd be wise to keep my mind open, especially when the advise is coming from someone who knows a whole heck of a lot about it than I do. Perhaps there's just a fear of rejection that makes me want to avoid the submission process all together.
     
  12. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    If you have an e-reader, just put transfer your stuff into a format that works and put it on there and you can see what it looks like. The mobi program works pretty well, in my opinion.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    For electronic publishing you may well have to do plenty of editing of the format for different devices. The Kindle is easy to format for - you can just edit a simple HTML file. From there you can convert to other formats, like ePub, but the conversion programs aren't always 100% accurate, so you may again have to edit to make it look right. Repeat for each format you want.

    I started with a word processing file that looked right on screen. From there, I could make a PDF that also looked right if I wanted that format. Then I saved as HTML and then stripped most of the HTML formatting away and produced the Kindle version. Then I used Calibre to convert the Kindle version to other formats, and then tweaked the editing for each as necessary.
     
  14. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    Word Processor --> PDF --> HTML --> Strip formatting --> Kindle --> Calibre for other formats

    Got it! LOL

    That's quite a process, but seems like it may be the best thought-out approach available right now.
     
  15. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can probably go straight from word processor to HTML.
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do everything you can to avoid PDF if aiming at e-readers. PDF is a page-oriented format that freezes the layout. One of the big advantages of e-readers is that one can scale the page to suit one's screen size and eyesight and the text should re-flow. If you use PDF you are actually throwing away the order of the words in the text (that's not guaranteed to be preserved in PDF), just keeping their physical position on the page. That means that even if you convert the PDF to a proper e-reader format, either the text won't re-flow of it might get scrambled when it does.

    There are tools to convert Word files directly to epub format (and an add-in for Word 2007 to let it save directly in epub -- 2010 version apparently on it's way), and Calibre will convert epub to mobi for the Kindle, so that's a possible route.

    I think there's a special circle of Hell reserved for people who use page-oriented formats such as PDF for e-publishing! Just Say No!
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You can. I created the PDF because I wanted that format. Then created an HTML file from the Word Processing document. So that step is parallel and not in series.

    I had PDF as an option if people wanted it. It didn't preclude people who did not want it from going with a page-scaling format. I figured, the more choices the merrier.
     
  18. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Yeah, when I played around with it, I just went directly from word to the format for kindle.

    And I'm with you on the pdf, it removes all abilities to do anything for readers, and I like adjusting text size. :)
     
  19. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    Cogito convinced me not to go straight to a self-publishing mindset, so help me out on this, would the most logical first two steps be to start with a double-spaced manuscript in Word and then as step number two, single space it and convert to ePub?
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you do the MS in Word then all you have to do to switch between single spaced and double spaced is change the style -- a couple of clicks. Basically, just enter the text in Word with no formatting (I would use a heading style for chapter heads and title style for the title), then change the overall document settings according to whether you are sending to a publisher or self publishing.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, all you need to do is set your paragraph style for the normal text to double spaced, .5" first line indent, no leading or following spacing between paragraphs. Use Courier New 12 point as the default font if you want to be compatible with the most common submission standards

    I would recommend creating a document template, and name it something like Novel Manuscript. It's much easier than it sounds - look up document templates in help. Microsoft has some very good tutorials on their website that will make you a Word Wizard in no time. Well worth the time.
     
  22. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, in fact set up two templates, one for MS submission, one for self publishing. In the one for submission as well as what Cog said about the paragraph font set the heading 1 font to 12 point Courier centred. You might want to set a style for scene breaks too if you are using them, which will also be 12 point Courier centred. Save that, and also save a copy as the one for self publication. Now in the self publication one you can play with fonts and formats to your hearts content (subject to what the formats you are publishing in will support). Now you can type everything using one of the templates, and can totally change the look by applying the other template.
     
  23. Mike Cornelison
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    Mike Cornelison Member

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    Very good to know what they're looking for in the submission standards. Interesting to hear that even the titles stay at 12 point, like you banged it out on a good old fashioned keyboard.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes... everything in the ms must be the same size and in the same font... and no bold...
     

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