From the blank page to the gaps between words, space is central to what writers and editors do every day. But just because space is empty doesn’t mean there’s nothing there.
Many of us who write or edit for a living spend a lot of time in a word processor, typically either Microsoft Word or Google Docs (or both). It’s only natural, then, that we know a lot about these programs. But it’s always good to brush up on the basics.
Over the last year and a half (beginning in April 2021), Microsoft has been rolling out its “modern comments” to Word 365 users on both Windows and Mac platforms. If you use Word, and unless you have your updates turned off, there’s a good chance you have them by now, or will soon.
Earlier this year, Fiction+ considered whether a novel should have a table of contents. Although it might seem to be a matter of personal preference, there are strong practical reasons for including or not including a TOC, depending on a book’s genre and format.
Almost every writer I know has a love-hate relationship with their writing program, whether it’s Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Scrivener, or a yellow legal pad. It’s clear there’s no single perfect choice for drafting, editing, and formatting your work for publication.
Copyeditors typically work in a word-processed manuscript, making and suggesting changes directly in the document. Proofreaders come in at a later stage, after the manuscript has been converted and formatted for publication in a program like Adobe InDesign.
If you’re a copyeditor, you probably use Microsoft Word, a desktop program introduced in the 1980s. Or maybe you use Google Docs, a browser-based application that debuted in 2006.
From our own reading, most of us know that some paperback and hardcover novels have a table of contents page in the front and some don’t. Lurking online, I perceive a widespread notion that tables of contents are old-fashioned and pointless for fiction.
One of my favorite MS Word tricks allows a novelist (or any book writer) to view and organize their chapters in the Navigation pane (an option under the View tab). Using this feature, I can see all my chapter titles at a glance, and I can go instantly to the one I want by clicking on its title.
Before a book is printed, while the text is still in manuscript form, editors at publishing houses speak in terms of word count, not page count. An appropriate word count for a project depends on the kind of book.