If you're using Microsoft Word™—and most authors do— here are a couple tips to help cut down on the amount of proofreading by authors required during the ebook review and testing phase. This post is meant to raise awareness, and to help cut down on the side-effects of track changes, hyphenation and special fonts. We seem to be running into these issues more and more often lately, probably due to an increasing number of authors who use the same source files for CreateSpace and The Bindery.
- TRACK CHANGES: If you've used track changes during the editing phase, please make sure all those changes are accepted or otherwise resolved to your satisfaction before submitting the .doc or .docx as a source file. Left unresolved, track changes will leave mistakes and other debris in your file that can and will make their way into your ebook.
- HYPHENATION: If you've used Word™'s hyphenation function in the source file, please make sure to turn it off. Hyphenation is completely unnecessary in an ebook file. To leave hyphenation active in the source file means inappropriate hyphens will appear in the ebook. The hyphenation checkbox is one of the first things I check upon receiving a source file. Sometimes a solution is as simple as unchecking that box, but other times, due to the mysteries of Word™ and what happens to the code when transferring from one machine to another, the hyphens won't disappear when I uncheck the box for you on my machine. Best practice: shut off hyphenation on your machine before sending the source file.
- SPECIAL FONTS: Special fonts or font treatments like italics and bold can really muck things up in a source file. Well, not the font treatments so much as the coding necessary to apply those treatments in Word™. As an author revises and edits their file, italics and bold often get applied, deleted, reapplied, moved around, and applied to blank lines &etc. That messy and oft-invisible code is NOT invisible in the ebook, no matter how careful I am during the assessment and markup phase of production. It can (and does) take hours for me to clean up special font code, forcing me to add a surcharge for the additional labor expense. To avoid this, clean up that code! Either nuke your source file ahead of time, or otherwise ensure italics and bold are applied only to the desired text.
- If you have never nuked a file before, it's easy. Simply copy the entire book onto your clipboard. Paste the contents into a plain-text editor like Notepad (for Windows) or TextEdit (for Mac). Unclick or uncheck word wrap in the plain-text editor. Then copy the plain-text version of the book back onto your clipboard, and paste it back into a new Word™ file
- This wipes out virtually everything in the file except the text itself and some basic formatting like paragraph returns. Gone is all Word™'s junk, along with all the italics, bold and whatever. Reapply the special fonts only where needed.
- There is a more involved nuking process tutorial available, but this version does not get rid of stray italics applied to spaces or blank lines or other "invisible" entities, leaving the special font debris code intact. Still a useful resource for the future, if not in the present case.
Feel free to email with any questions or concerns.