Thursday, October 15, 2009

Submission question re: amateur marks

Jami asked: This may be a topic for another post, but what about the actual formatting of things? There's so much conflicting information out there as far as Times New Roman vs. Courier New, underlining vs. italicizing, etc.

I think Courier is very ugly, but I'd never reject because of that font. And underlining is a holdover from typewriter days, when you couldn't italicize, so I prefer italics. But really, that's not important, and neither says much about the writer as a writer, the way, oh, headhopping does, or being boring. :)

So I'd just ignore probably. If I got the submission as an emailed document (not paper), I'd very likely change the font to TNR or something I like better-- I really, really hate Courier, especially the light version-- which will mess up the pagination, but none of this will matter much in my consideration.

The reason, I think, many writers choose Courier is because it's, geez, I forget the term. Proportional? And that's kind of irrelevant these days, at least with electronic submissions, as font can be changed in an instant, and anyway, the typesetter doesn't care-- the ms will be transformed into whatever is house-style. So don't use Courier just to be proportional-- unless the publisher specifically asks for that.


Unknown said...

Thanks for explaining. It's very confusing. I always check with the publisher's guidlines before I submit.

Edittorrent said...

Courier is a proportional serif font. That's why I love it. But it is rather light, so I tend to use my lovely bold button to make it more readable.
*pets bold button*

The two things that make a font easier to read are proportionality and the presence of serifs. Courier has both. Arial has neither.


Edittorrent said...

I wonder why I find Courier so ugly then. I like TNR (also serif). But I can't even abide a page of Courier. Courier New bothers me even more. It's odd, because I'm not very visually sensitive.

Anissa said...

I can't stand Courier either, which is why I use it during revisions. The font change messes with my brain and somehow makes me much more attentive. Go figure.

Jami Gold said...

Hi Alicia,

Thanks for the insight. Yes, I think it will all come down to someone's preferences. And heaven forbid if we guess wrong with some of the agents/editors out there. :) Like you, I'm a TNR person. I write and edit in TNR and then I do a final edit check in Courier just because my eye will catch things differently with the change in font.

From what I've been able to dig up, if you use TNR, then italics are acceptable. However, if you use Courier/Courier New, you change the italics to underlines because italics don't show up well with Courier.

Oh, and I've heard some people recommend a font called Dark Courier, for exactly that problem that Teresa mentioned. :) (Although I kind of like the idea of her petting her keyboard, so maybe I shouldn't tell her...)

Jami G.

Anonymous said...

I had a major problem with Courier when I first changed to it...very reluctantly...after everything I read said that was the majority choice. It really gave me a twitch.

But now, it's normal, I've adjusted to the ugliness and the underlining...the medication must be working. LOL!

Unknown said...

Courier is a monospace font, that is, all the letters take up the same space. TNR is a proportional font; the letters take up the space they need.

I stopped using courier years ago as I find it unattractive. If you like it, use it. These days, I'm using Palatino. In all the years since I stopped using Courier, I've never had an editor say a word about font. Ever.

Dave Shaw said...

I'm one of those really odd people who prefers Arial, at least on a computer screen. Yeah, serifed fonts are supposed to be easier to read, but for me, they're not - dunno if that's an effect of my computer geek profession or my extreme myopia (20/800+). I work in Arial, and then switch it to whatever my intended victim - er, agent or editor - prefers. If I can't find out a preference for them, I use TNR, simply because people who don't specify usually are used to it.

I've been told a few times that the Courier preference originated for two reasons:
1) The monospaced font was easier for the old-tech typesetters to work from.
2) It was the closest to pica for the folks used to typewriters. (I purposely didn't say 'the fossils who were dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age'. ;-)

Edittorrent said...

Whoops, Carolyn, you're right. I get those terms mixed up. Please don't tell my typesetter. I don't want a scold! LOL


Edittorrent said...

Dave, I like Arial too. It's a clean, modern font, and it works really well with a lot of stuff. I used to use it when I wrote software manuals.

Helvetica too. Clean and unadorned.

But TNR is used a lot more with books. I like it, but I use 13 or 14 point, because 12 pt is about 20% smaller than Courier 12. (I, cough, actually researched this for my students. Sometimes I am really too obsessive.)

Adrian said...

I find a monospace (or fixed-pitch) font, like Courier, to be essential when writing or revising. Of course, I would want to read an entire novel typeset in Courier. Proportional fonts with serifs are designed for readability. But monospace fonts make it much harder for typos to hide and make it much easier to select exactly what you want with a mouse.

Quick, how many Ls in Phillip?

Anonymous said...

In an editing class at a workshop, I was told that the type of font depended on the type of editor. If my notes are accurate - A line editor wants a different type of font (Courier) than a first reader (TNR). TNR is supposed to allow faster reading and the Courier is for clarity, because it is better spaced.

Talitha said...

I know a lot of people like TNR, but there are some publishing houses that hate, hate, hate it.

Please read the submission guidelines carefully, or even peruse any blog associated with your intended publisher. One fairly prominent publisher (who's name I have forgotten, unfortunately) will delete any submission UNSEEN if it's written in TNR.

The details that seem trivial can be really important.