Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Code Checks - the Nitty Gritty of Formatting


Citrus Singers - 1st performance in 18 months

Sunday, September 5, 2021 - some of the older girls in the Girl Scouts'
Citrus Singers sang the National Anthem before a Daytona Tortugas' game.
(Cheered on by furred & feathered friends.) 

Another entrant in the "Cute Kitty" contest
Photo by Debra Savignano, posted to Facebook


Some of the shawls I made over the last 18 months
 Finally getting blessed for 
our church's Shawl Ministry

 A feral cat in my choir director's neighborhood had kittens, and lo & behold, one took after the suspected daddy, a pure bred Siamese. Below—sheltered, tamed, & adopted by my choir director—Simon, the Siamese (well, almost).

And most amazing of all - Hailey & Brady (as babies & 17 years
later  in the same engineering class at UCF)


While doing the most tedious portion of formatting The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle (Book 50, by the way), it occurred to me that in the ten years I've been giving advice on Writing & Editing, I never really went into detail about "Code Check." Probably because most people use some version of Word, which has very little "code check" capacity. Nonetheless, two of the "biggies"—finding extra spaces and manual tabs—can be spotted in Word, so perhaps "Code Check" really is relevant to users of both Word and Word Perfect. 

Why a Code Check? 

My personal answer would be that I don't want any stray codes messing up my work. Am I being overly cautious? Possibly. But I started checking codes back in the days when the transition from Word Perfect to RTF wasn't as reliable as it is today, let alone translating RTF to Word. (You would not believe the messes I ran into!) And the habit stuck. "Code clean" manuscripts are bound to survive indie pub processes better than those uploaded with an attitude of,  "Looks fine - why should I bother?"

For those of us who use Word Perfect, this means TWO code checks, as I keep Codes On while doing a final edit of my manuscript in Word2016 as well. But it's worth it. I end up with a neat package that is easily translatable into a multitude of e-formats by the various e-publishers.

To turn on codes in Word, click on ¶ in the Menu bar.

To turn on codes in Word Perfect, click on View - Reveal Codes.

Grace note:  In Word Perfect I would suggest the use of the Arrow keys to scroll the Code Window that appears at the bottom of the page, though your mouse often comes in handy for zeroing in on what needs to be changed. (My experience has been that the rolling scroll function tends to get "wonky" after a while, to the point of going up rather than down.) 

Below are the most common fixes needed.

1. Extra spaces—between words and at the end of a paragraph—are the most common mistake. (Spaces show as a diamond in Word Perfect, a dot in Word.) Delete extra space, hit Ctrl+S (and yes, that's a Microsoft code - one of their best "built-ins"). If you haven't found the Microsoft codes, look them up NOW. For a link to my post on both ASCII & Miscrosoft codes, click here.

2.  Accidental Manual Tab Stops. Long after the era of Manual Tabs, these little devils have a habit of cropping up in the most unexpected places, even when you KNOW you never touched the Tab key. (All you have to do is click your mouse in the blank space to the right of your text, and Oops, there's a Left Tab - or maybe a whole series of them.)

3.  Stray Italics (available only in Word Perfect). No, they're not doing anything - they're just sitting there where they shouldn't be, but who knows what's going to happen when you translate to RTF? Or RTF to Word? 

4.  Section Formatting (available in Word Perfect only). If you have written your book in Sections - say in 5-chapter segments - after you've put all those segments into one doc, there will still be formatting codes at the top of each section. Both page formatting & page number formatting need to deleted throughout the manuscript, not just at the beginning of Chapter One.

5. Margins (available in Word Perfect only). A code - "Rgt Margin" - popped up in today's editing, and sure enough, for some reason my right margin had narrowed a hair, violating the 1" margin rule expected on all manuscripts - an error that extended all the way to the last page. Easy to fix; not so easy to find without a Code Check.

Grace note:  Yes, this makes a lot more work for Word Perfect users, but as tedious as it can be, I don't regret it, as using Word Perfect has so many benefits. The one time I failed to check codes in Word Perfect - on my 200,000-word Making Magic With Words - Smashwords was unable to translate the manuscript to their e-formats.

Summary. Whether you use Word or Word Perfect, check those codes. You went to a lot of work to create your masterpiece, so don't neglect the tech that allows your readers to view a polished presentation. (Scrivener users - if you have a code function, please use it.)

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Don't forget The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle will debut soon. Lots and lots of ghosts (even more than The Ghosts of Rushton Court). And more romance than found in my previous Gothics. (A second-time-around romance - and I've added a Hero's Point of View.) Secrets should be available before the end of the month.



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For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

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