For most books the largest component of the manuscript is the text. It should be stylistically consistent and logically arranged.
Morgan James uses the University of Chicago’s Manual of Style, 14th Edition, for most style concerns and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition, for spelling and division of words. We urge you to follow them in preparing your text. (Both are available in nearly all libraries and bookstores.) The Manual of Style also contains much useful information about manuscript preparation and the publication process.
One of the most venerated, and still perhaps the best, guides to clear and interesting expository writing is Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.
Clarity and consistency are essential in all writing. Be especially vigilant in maintaining spelling consistency: A given word or term should be treated the same way throughout the manuscript with regard to capitalization, hyphenation, abbreviation, and so forth.
Although your proofreader will try to ensure that the manuscript’s style (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.) is correct, do not abdicate responsibility for this job. Be especially careful with proper names, foreign words, and technical terminology. Include the given and family name of each person you discuss, as well as titles of those who are not well known.
Titles and Headings
Most manuscripts are made up of chapters. Often, consecutive chapters can be logically arranged into parts. If the subject matter of your book lends itself to such chapter groupings, you might increase the book’s clarity and reference value by so arranging it. Each part should be numbered and given a title–e.g., Part 1: Business Fundamentals; Part 2: Business Projects. Type the part’s number and title on a separate page, with a short introduction if you want. Here, as elsewhere, consistency is desirable; if one part warrants an introduction, probably the others should get one, too.
Always start each chapter on a new page. Use Arabic, not Roman, numerals for chapter numbers. Chapter titles should state clearly and succinctly the subject of the chapter; do not use cute or clever titles that leave the reader wondering what the chapter is about. Type the chapter number and title at the top of the page, and the text starting on the next line.
The chapter proper should be organized by main idea, with these topics divided into subtopics, sub-subtopics, and so on, as needed. Such divisions enhance readability; it is easier to assimilate information when it is broken into well-organized units that can be located quickly and digested at one sitting.
Each major theme in a chapter should be preceded by what is called an A-level head. Successive levels of heads are called B-level, C-level, and so forth. To help identify the level of a head, put an “A,” “B,” “C,” etc., in square brackets before each one. Do not follow an A-level head immediately with a B-level head (thus producing “bumped heads”); use at least one sentence of intervening text. Do not underscore heads or make them boldface.
Use lists only to call the reader’s attention to material. Do not use them as a shortcut for adequate description of a subject. Too many lists clutter the text.
Lists may be numbered, unnumbered, or bulleted. Try to use each kind consistently; for example, if you use a numbered list in one chapter, do not use a bulleted list for the same type of material in another chapter. Generally, numbered lists are used to enumerate items (as in “Five reasons for this effect are…” or “Follow the five steps below…”).
Capitalize the first word in each list entry. Use a period at the end of every entry if at least one is a full sentence; if the list comprises words or phrases only, use no closing punctuation after any of the entries.
Enclose all quotations in quotation marks, regardless of the length of the quotation.
Remember, you might need to obtain permission to use certain quotations. Refer to the “Fair-use doctrine” section in the Chicago Manual of Style. Although the safest course is to get permission before using any copyrighted material, under the doctrine of fair use a limited amount of material may be quoted without permission under certain circumstances. More on this later.
Footnotes and Endnotes
Footnotes and endnotes are repositories for clarifying material that cannot be incorporated into the text without disrupting the discussion. Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page containing the reference; endnotes are placed at the end of the chapter or book.
Your book can contain footnotes or endnotes, but not both. Let your author relations manager know if you think either kind is more appropriate for your book.
Reference citations are used to identify material taken or derived from another source. Such outside sources should be cited whenever you use material from them, not just for direct quotations. Keep in mind that you might also have to get permission to use the information found in other sources, even if you change the wording.
For an efficient, well-regarded system of citing references, see the University of Chicago’s Manual of Style, 14th Edition; therein you will find examples of many different types of outside sources cited in text, in an end-of-chapter reference list, and in an end-of-book bibliography. (Your book can have reference lists or a bibliography, but not both.) However, the citation system advocated in any legitimate style manual is acceptable, provided it is used consistently.