Thursday, January 12, 2012

Headings and page numbers, oh my! By Joyce Hart



It seems so elementary to put a heading on your work and to number the pages.  However, it apparently is not, especially if you haven’t been to a conference or taken an online class. Or, if you’re not in a critique group.  Sometimes even experienced authors forget these two things.

Just in the last few days I have received several proposals with no heading and no page numbers.    Also important is the font – nothing fancy, just Times New Roman, 12 pt.  This is what the editors want and what I prefer. 
 
We like the heading done this way:  name of the book/your name and I like the page numbers in the lower right hand corner.   Why do we need this information?  We have lots of manuscripts in our offices. Well, some of us do, others run paperless offices.   I haven’t reached that objective yet.  I like to read from paper.  Sometimes I’ll read a few pages on the computer, but mostly I read from paper.  My eyes won’t take all that looking at the computer screen.

I’ll sign off for now on my little rant.  I hope this reaches some people who forget to do these things or ones who didn’t know they needed to do them. Probably the people who need this information don’t even know about our blog.

Blessings to all,
Joyce

13 comments:

Andy Scheer said...

It's another one of those things we were supposed to learn in kindergarten (but sometimes forget): put your name on the top of your paper.

Diana said...

Joyce and Andy, you are so right, it should be common sense.
I see it all the time as well.

Terry Burns said...

For those of us who do not take hard copy submissions I would add that sending one as an attachment to an email and putting nothing in the body of the email itself can be a problem. I don't open emails that I can't see what it is.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I agree. It frustrates me when my critique partners don't put the header and the page number as I prefer to read paper. I then go back and put the marks in their electronic copy. But I get rather weary of always having to do their work for them so that I don't get the pages mixed up.

And that's my rant for the day!

Timothy Fish said...

These days, I don't really anticipate sending a paper copy of a manuscript, so I rather expect that people will be reading it in electronic form, if I were to send on out. If someone cares to spend the $30, to print out a copy, I don't see that it is that much more inconvenient for them to set it up however they want. Otherwise, the page numbers and author information are already part of the electronic document.

Terry Burns said...

The only problem with that is the fact that once it is in a publishing house they do expect there to be names and headers on the pages for various reasons.

Diana said...

Timothy, what program do you use that 'auto' places the page numbers and headers? I do not know of one.

Carrie Pagels said...

Mea culpa for sending three chapters for you to read without putting the page numbers and header in ACK! I don't usually put them in until writing up the proposal. Need to work on doing that if I send chapters out, too. Well, at least it might have helped inspire this nice post, Joyce!

Timothy Fish said...

Diana,

As long as we're talking about electronic documents, MS Word automatically displays which page you are on at the bottom of the window or at the top in reading mode. If the document is a PDF, Acrobat Reader also displays the page number. Word records the author name in the properties information of the file, thought that is user id on the computer they are using, so it wouldn't be much help if someone used a cutesy user id. But I would imagine that it wouldn't be too difficult to setup a macro that would add page numbers to documents that don't have them and request information about the author if it is missing.

Terry Burns said...

Yes, or people could do what the submission guidelines require and put the header on the document, I have little patience with people that won't follow simple instructions. We have them up there for a reason.

Timothy Fish said...

Terry,

Yes, you’re correct, people could do what the submission guidelines require. To my knowledge, I have never sent you a proposal what was improperly formatted. But mistakes happen. Besides which, have you actually read the Hartline Literary Submission Guidelines recently? It is about as much fun to read as a legal document and the thing about putting page numbers on the pages is buried in bullet 6 of the page lined to in bullet 5 of the guidelines. Before assuming that authors are just trying to make your life difficult by not following the guidelines, you might consider that they might have just missed it.

Perhaps you can relate to that. After having dug through the guidelines to find it, I found it interesting that while Joyce says she likes the page numbers in the lower right hand corner, the guidelines actually call for page numbers to be in the upper left hand corner.

It isn’t my intention to be too hard on you, it is just that you appear to be making some assumptions that may not be true. Instead of griping about people making your life difficult, would it not be better to find a solution that increases the likelihood that you see proposals formatted the way you like?

Terry Burns said...

I don't believe you've send one not properly done either, and I didn't think you would believe I was addressing it at you. Even as we speak we are in the process of completely revamping our website which should be live very soon. If you are referring to the "Is it ready to submit" checklist, that was taken verbatim from AFCW material and is commonly accepted as proper manuscript formatting. It is true that different agents have different preferences, perhaps we can get that addressed in the process.

Terry Burns said...

However, having said that, a very large percentage of people that send in it is very clear that they have never even looked at the submission guidelines. That should be the first step for anyone sending to ANY editor or agent.