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no more typewriter fonts in manuscripts

PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:14 pm
by ChetG
In looking toward the future, why not put the typewriter behind us? The idea (seen throughout the web) that professional manuscripts should look as if they sprang from a typewriter is unfortunate at best.

I've read where copy editors prefer Courier and that copy editors cannot see italics. That is all nonsense. I've been freelancing in book production over 30 years, and in the past 20 I cannot recall seeing a single manuscript in Courier working its way thru production (college texts, professional books, etc.), which is a relief. Almost any serif font is far easier to read than Courier, and, hey, if any editor cannot see italics, then the person might as well give up. Anyone who cannot see individual letter forms hasn't a hope in true reading.

I have set up a page where one can enter to see a side by side comparison of serif, sans serif, and typewriter fonts at http://www.lookoutnow.com/dtp/standard1.htm.

So let's step into the future: good-bye Courier!

Re: no more typewriter fonts in manuscripts

PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:06 pm
by aburt
I think your wish is (mostly) granted!

I've submitted manuscripts with Times Roman font for years and never had any pushback. I asked a few editors at major publishers and they were fine with it.

Using underlines to identify italics, that I can see as being slightly more useful, as a single letter word like "I" or "a" being italicized could be hard to see. If they work from the word .doc file for production, say, then it shouldn't matter I'd think... but I've never inquired on that score. Perhaps someone should ask the major editors and see if they still care (and why).

Re: no more typewriter fonts in manuscripts

PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:40 pm
by ChetG
From a production standpoint, most projects I've worked on are either .doc or .docx. However, as far as single letters go, I prefer italics (and as one of my projects has do do with math, I've single-letter variables all over the place). Basically, italics are another font, and with the close reading required for editing or proofreading, a different character is obviously a different character. And one big advantage of italics over underscores is that the former don't run into descenders (i.e., the part of a letter which descends below the line).

When you get right down to it, any decent editor or proofreader would find it quite easy to differentiate between italics and roman fonts. In terms of production work, that's about the least of it.

But as for my wish being fulfilled . . . as long as organizations such as SFWA continue to recommend Courier, there will be a regression toward typewriters. Look at ralan.com: four out of five new magazines coming along believe that it's professional to ask for Courier as part of standard formatting. Same with Wikipedia.

Re: no more typewriter fonts in manuscripts

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:34 am
by aburt
Oh, you're looking at SFWA's recommendations? Ah. Doubt they've updated those in years. They're too busy futzing with new bylaws these days to deal with such things. :)

Re: no more typewriter fonts in manuscripts

PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:09 am
by Mottman
I too am not a fan of this font, except when writing mathematical formulae and the like using a word processor like Word, or something else not designed for it. Each character lines up perfectly from line to line, very useful in that circumstance.

I have just been sent the submission guidlines for the 2010 Student Anthology for The University of Sydney, their first criterion is: "all pieces should be typewritten in courier new 12 point, double spaced, ..."

So it seems like this tradition is being passed on to the younger generation of writers. I sent an email to them regarding the font, just a quick query, and it will be interesting if they have a logical reason for requesting it.

Re: no more typewriter fonts in manuscripts

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:19 am
by aburt
Mottman wrote:I have just been sent the submission guidlines for the 2010 Student Anthology for The University of Sydney, their first criterion is: "all pieces should be typewritten in courier new 12 point, double spaced, ..."

So it seems like this tradition is being passed on to the younger generation of writers. I sent an email to them regarding the font, just a quick query, and it will be interesting if they have a logical reason for requesting it.


Let us know! Or perhaps you're required to type it on a typewriter. :)

(A manual typewriter at that!)