View Full Version : Formating sidebars in a manuscript

04-21-2005, 09:28 PM
Many how-to books have sidebars for additional information. My WIP is likely to need a few of these for technical details that may interest some readers but others are likely to skip. How would I go about formating a manuscript to show what text I want to use as a sidebar?

aka eraser
04-21-2005, 10:05 PM
I did my sidebars apart from the main ms, in/on separate files/pages. When it came to that part of the ms where one was required I simply wrote: <Insert sidebar A-2 here> with a double space above and below it.

Ditto with pics and illustrations. I'm not positive about the formatting and whether I used those <> brackets or some other identifier. It won't matter a whole lot on your initial submission as long as you indicate the which and the where. The pub that accepts your work will have its own way of doing things and your editor will let you know what's preferred.

04-22-2005, 12:06 AM
Put it immediately below the paragraph that it is supposed to go beside. Frex:

Paragraph of main text here.

Sidebar text
<End Sidebar>

(Or whatever codes you come up with - as long as you keep it consistent throughout.)

ETA: This makes it easier for the editor to edit it (i.e. because it's with the relevant text). They will then take it out/code it up/whatever needs to be done as necessary and as per house-style/typesetter requirements.

Tish Davidson
04-25-2005, 12:58 AM
Different publishers want it different ways. In the books I have done for Scholatic, they want it approximately where it comes in the text as follows (set off by double the spacing of the text)

Sidebar text

Diagrams and tables were indicated the same way, with a notation about whether it was okay to break the diagram or table across a page.

But I just got a chapter back from Lucent where the editor crossed out all the sidebars in the text and said to put sidebars, diagrams, and photo suggestions at the end of the chapter and that she would decide where it was appropriate to put them. So my guess is that either way is okay. I prefer way #1 because I feel it gives the sidebars and other illustrative material a better chance to be intergrated appropriately into
the text. So long as it is clear that the material belongs in a sidebar, It isn't going to make or break your chances of getting the book published, and if you are already under contract, you can always ask the editor.

06-08-2005, 03:33 PM
Thanks for answering the question. I'm glad I found this post - I have my sidebars on a seperate sheet in the back with no reference as far as where to put them. I'm going back now to correct mine now.

06-08-2005, 06:05 PM
Just a couple of comments on sidebars, etc. in manuscripts:

At the manuscript level, sidebars should be treated pretty much like tables. That means that if the subject-area of your manuscript would put all tables at the end, like in chemistry or other hard sciences, do so. (They get moved for publication.) If they would be embedded in the text, do so.

To make things easier for the poor editor, though, I recommend using punctuation other than square ([) or angle (<) brackets to set placement tags off. Those both have special meanings in some typesetting software when they appear at the beginning of a paragraph. We always recommended something like this:

{QQ Sidebar 1 (hamdog production) about here XQQ}

which is one of the few excuses for using boldface in a manuscript…

06-08-2005, 06:54 PM
Jaws is absolutely correct, as far as the meanings of certain characters. A great deal of modern book production uses XML-based programs that read characters like "<>" and "[]" as specific formatting tags (much in the way the message board reads "[ i] [ /i]" as "italics").

In my experience, such a thing is often listed in a publisher's style guide, if they make it avalable to authors.