Style Guidelines

 

ABA Publishing

Tips and Guidelines for Book Manuscripts

Write for your audience

ABA books are written for busy, practicing lawyers. The most successful books have a practical, reader-friendly voice. If you can build in features like checklists, exhibits, sample contracts, flow charts, and tables of cases, please do so.

Take care with style and language

Our standard reference books are--
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (for spelling and hyphenation)

The Chicago Manual of Style (for all style, punctuation, and capitalization matters in written text as well as general rules of book making)

A Uniform System of Citation (the Blue Book--for citation forms in endnotes)

The Elements of Style (by Strunk and White--the bible of the economical, careful writer)


Note that Blue Book rules apply only to citations.

Follow traditional publishing practices in manuscript preparation

1. Use 8.5 x 11" white bond paper.
2. Print or type on one side only.
3. Double-space everything.
4. Keep all pages, chapters, exhibits, and appendixes in order. Number your manuscript consecutively from start to finish, not chapter by chapter.
5. Send us the original. It is best to use a service that will trace the package in case of disaster (Federal Express, United Parcel Service, a reliable messenger company).
6. Fax machines and e-mail are great. But if you send your manuscript by fax or e-mail, you still owe us an original, which can be sent through the mails.
7. Always keep a copy for yourself.

Use your computer

1. Most lawyers use WordPerfect and Microsoft Word. Let us know if you do not use one of these common word-processing software programs.
2. We prefer a CD for the files rather than e-mail attachments. Label the CD with book title, and contents.
3. Keep computer files small. Divide your chapter or book into files of no more than 50,000 bytes. Endnotes should go into separate files.
4. Name files recognizably and keep them in order. "Chap7.pt1" is better than "Mybook.ch."
5. Several common computer functions are unnecessary in manuscript: do not justify the copy. Use hard returns only at the ends of paragraphs, not lines. Do not add headers or footers. Do not use end-line hyphenation. Print it out in your default font.
6. On the other hand, traditional manuscript standards do still apply: double-space everything. Set your margins for a least one inch all the way around. Print out on white paper.
7. Keep a copy of the files on your hard drive for as long as possible. (Forever, if you have the memory to spare.) If your book goes into a new edition or if your chapter is revised, you will reuse those computer files.

Minimize footnotes and other recommendations

1. Always use endnotes.
2. Do not bury information in the endnotes. Endnotes should consist almost exclusively of citations.
3. Minimize spot citations. id. is not that important.
4. The "Blue Book" has never cited books properly: do it one better by including the author's full name, the book's full title, the publisher, and the year of publication. Your readers will thank you.
5. We will do the index and Table of Cases.
6. Don't forget to include an Acknowledgements page and updated biographies.

Don't panic

If you have any concerns or questions, just give me a call at 312/988-6040.

Rick G. Paszkiet
Executive Editor


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