Introduction

Each section of The Little Style Guide to Great Christian Writing and Publishing includes a parenthetical cross-reference to additional information and examples to be found in The Chicago Manual of Style, Fifteenth Edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003). The CMS is the really essential guide all writers, editors, and proofreaders must have. In those cases that may be ambiguous, however, remember that this style guide is addressed to the unique problems of religious writers and writing.

Our authorities for spelling and usage are the unabridged Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language and its latest abridged form, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (2003). When we have needed an example from the New Testament to illustrate a point, we have used The Holman Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2001).

Chapter 1. Book Production

A. Preparation of the Manuscript (2.3–.46) 

1. It is the author's responsibility to provide copy (disk and printout) that is clear, readable, and accurate. The manuscript must be typed and double-spaced. It should have wide magins (1 inch) on good quality standard white bond paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Computer printouts should preferably be printed by a laser printer. Colored paper or flimsy onionskin is not acceptable, for it is soon reduced to tatters in the editorial office. Print only one side of the paper.

2. The manuscript must be complete. Additions and corrections are confusing and difficult to add once the manuscript has been accepted for publication. The author should include the following parts with the book:

3. The manuscript pages should be numbered consecutively in the upper right corner. Do not number them by chapter (3–1, 3–2, etc.). Sheets inserted after the manuscript has been paginated should carry the preceding page number with a, b, c added: 86a, 86b, 86c. If a page is later removed, the preceding page should be double numbered: 106–7.

4. It is the author's responsibility to check all Scripture references, quotations, and footnotes for accuracy prior to submitting the manuscript.

5. All books must be sent on a 3.5 inch disk, in Microsoft Word or a program compatible with it. The disk must be Macintosh or IBM compatible.

B. Rights and Permissions (4.11–.98)

1. The publisher will prepare the copyright page and also has the privilege to give permission to reprint excerpts in other publications.

2. If the author wishes to use a portion of a copyrighted work and there is some question whether the kind or amount of the material exceeds a fair use, the author should request permission to quote the portion in question. It is the author's responsibility to obtain permission to quote from other sources. Notice of the original copyright and permission to reprint must appear either on the copyright page of the book or in a footnote on the first page of the reprinted material or in a special list of acknowledgments. All permissions or copies of them must be sent to the publisher.

3. The author is further responsible for any fees charged by grantors of permission unless the author makes other arrangements with the grantor. When the publisher pays the cost of procuring permission rights, the publisher generally deducts these costs from the author's future royalties.

4. Frequent use of modern Scripture versions may require permission.

C. Stages in Manuscript Production (2.50, 3.43)

1. An edited manuscript usually passes through the following stages in the production process:

2. Once page proofs (final proofs) are made, revisions are costly and should be minimal. Major changes at this stage in production are not acceptable. Corrections should be confined to substantive errors.

3. Authors will receive final proofs only if the book requires an index. In this case, the author will receive a deadline to complete the index, but manuscript revisions are not made at this time.

D. The Editor-Author Relationship

1. During the editorial process, editors work with authors to produce books that are as excellent as they can be, in terms of both content and quality. Editing is usually done on screen—sometimes only for house style, sometimes in a more comprehensive way, depending on the specific needs of a given manuscript.

2. As editors edit an assigned book, they typically correct misspellings, punctuation errors, and incorrect word usage, and generally conform the book to house style. The editor also identifies and, in cooperation with the author, clarifies unclear writing, theological or historical inaccuracies, and potentially offensive material.

3. Some see the editor as a supercritical, academic-monastic individual who cackles as he edits a manuscript so heavily that writers can't recognize their own work. Others idealize the editor as a knight in shining armor who will rescue a manuscript (or an author) from obscurity, make the work great, and bring huge success! The truth is somewhere in between.

In Christian publishing, the editor and the writer have the same goals and serve the same Lord, but they are coming to the task from different angles. This sometimes makes for a nebulous world in which the rules seem unclear. Ideally, author and editor will maintain a context of cooperation and teamwork, and within that context the editor fills necessary roles on behalf of both the publisher and the author. The editor and the writer are coworkers.

Throughout the editorial process the editor gives honest feedback and offers constructive criticism. If some elements in the book do not work, are offensive to the intended readership, are theologically questionable or simply unclear, it is the editor's responsibility to work with the author to resolve the problem.

Trust is at the core of the editor-author relationship. The editor respects the writer's point of view, the purpose for the book, the style, and so on, and thus doesn't make the book the editor's rather than the writer's. On the other hand, the writer trusts the editor to tell him what the book is really like and what its strengths and weaknesses are. The editor helps a writer focus on a reading audience, on the purpose for writing the book, and on whether the story line, tone, writing flow and style, content, and vocabulary effectively reach intended readers. The editor helps the author remember that quality is just as important as content.