Using Author Disks

Even a few years ago it was not economical to use an author's disk for a short book or an edited volume because of the translation work involved in converting a word processing disk into a typesetter's electronic file. Conversions are nearly effortless now.
     The benefit of using disks will depend on how much cleaning up the file will need—but even a minimum savings will be in excess of ten percent of the composition cost.
      Files in one software program, with limited and consistent formatting, and with separate files for art and tables will need less clean up than those with heavy and inconsistent formatting and from a variety of word processing programs. Content with no discrepancy between the disk and hard copy and with few editing changes will be translated more quickly and accurately than more poorly prepared work. With a good translation, the author and the proofreader can speed through first proof without being distracted by the compositor's typographic errors.

Generic can translate any word processing software. Because this saves time, reduces cost, and simplifies proofreading, it is advantageous to collect electronic files for all your projects.

Actions that decrease the value of the files
If you are involved with the manuscript at an early stage, recommend that your author stick strictly to the task of manuscript development. Authors should use the features of the word processing program that will save them time, but they should avoid program features simply because "they are there" or they "make the manuscript look better."

  • Don't try to make the manuscript appear as if it were the final book. Chapter titles or subheads typed in full capitals, for instance, will have to be retyped by the compositor.
  • Don't spend time learning to use format editors. Use them if they save time creating tables or mathematics, but realize that they are not transferable for page layout.
  • Don't learn format styles unless it will save time. Instead, use unique keystroke sequences to show design elements: \1\ for a first-level head, \2\ for a second-level one, \ext\ for an extract, and so on. Submit a list of these elements and the coding used with the manuscript.
  • Don't destroy the original art files: If your authors intend to use the computer to create art, have them save it in a widely accepted form (for example, tiff, pict, or eps) and keep them in addition to the art that is in the manuscript.

Actions that improvethe files
You can make positive recommendations when you become involved with a manuscript at an early stage. Encourage your authors to use the power of the word processing program to create a traditionally solid manuscript.

  • Use the search function to verify that you have not used "el" for "l" or "oh" for "zero."
  • Use a specialized spell-checker dictionary for the manuscript. Spell-checkers are either glorified or pilloried, but the fact is that they will catch many errors if used regularly.
  • Review the bibliographic style for the manuscript and use the automatic notes and bibliography features to make sure that the files adhere to this standard. The author's and publisher's reputations—and wallets—are often adversely affected because of poorly prepared reference material.
  • Copy the final word processing files and art onto disks. Mark each disk with all the pertinent information: author, title, a list of the file(s), the software used to create each file, the date of its creation, and where it belongs in the book or chapter. Use these disks to generate the accompanying hard copy of the manuscript for the publisher.
It is essential to have the author understand that the manuscript printed from the submitted disks represents the final version of the work and whatever paper trail exists will be on this manuscript. Once the disks and manuscript are submitted, all changes and additions must be made only on the manuscript, not on a new or substitute disk.
     When the manuscript has been edited and designed, the compositor will use the clearly marked manuscript as the basis for inputting the design and edited content. The compositor can do this accurately and quickly if the printed hard copy matches the disk. Discrepancies add time and cost to the project and jeopardize quality and coherence by possibly including unedited passages.
     Remind your authors that designers, editors, and compositors can do their tasks more professionally than the author can, but the author is the sole resource for submitting an outstanding manuscript.

For further information, please email us, including your name, affiliation, and areas of interest, and we will get back to you quickly.

Generic Compositors
152 Starheim Road
Stamford, NY 12167
607 652-BOOK (2665)
815 346-5272 (fax)
email us

Copyright © 2001 Generic Compositors, a Division of Stonecrest Industries, Inc. 1/27/12 12:27 PM


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