The Font Is Not The Story

May 10th, 2005 · 5 Comments
by Booksquare

Let us suggest that HelenKay Dimon is a nice person. She does stuff like warn people before she offends them. We do not pause for such niceties, meaning we’re going to leap right in to the best method for word count we’ve heard this week*.

Here’s my new answer: You actually have to count each word. Every damn one. Then you have to count the punctuation and spaces, do an excel spreadsheet setting out the number of each, have it bound and attach it as an exhibit to the end of your submission. If you don’t, the editor will automatically reject your manuscript. Also, there’s a rumor that some published folks are blackballing other writers. This is one of those issues that may lead to blackballing. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

It is our general belief that people who worry about a) fonts, b) word count, or c) margins are worrying about the wrong things. It’s the story. It’s always the story. The only rule for fonts is they must be readable. Use the blasted computer word count. Just do it. The world won’t end. We promise**.

That being said, we ran across a very cool font-related site today. Link below.

P.S. – Congratulations to HelenKay

* – That was not a typo. Every blasted week, someone gets worked up about word count or fonts or both. Every week. It’s like an obsession or something.
** – If it does, well, it’s not like we’ll be around either.

File Under: Tools and Craft

5 responses so far ↓

  • Karen // May 10, 2005 at 9:14 pm

    What are you all talking about? People get worked up about word count? What’s wrong with Word’s? Don’t tell me it’s not accurate. (Microshit stirkes again.) And font? I’ve taught off and on for years and it’s never come up . . . actually, that’s not quite true. I’ve had to tell students sometimes to quit getting fancy with the font (the script faces are particularly egregious), but no one has ever asked.

  • Booksquare // May 11, 2005 at 7:28 am

    Karen, Karen, Karen, let me assure you that there are indeed people who get worked up about fonts and word count (some with good reason, though not that good these days!). It is a symptom, not a disease. Hmm, maybe it’s more a sign of insecurity. Love my font, love me.

    It gets back to the notion that there’s a “publishing standard” for determining word count. This goes back to the olden days when people used typewriters with only one font. Courier 12 = 250 words a page. Except when it doesn’t because your margins are off or some such nonsense. Oddly enough, most editors I’ve spoken with/heard speak are unaware of this publishing standard. They are genuinely perplexed.

  • HelenKay // May 11, 2005 at 7:46 am

    I would add that people get worked up about everything – font, word count, margins, headers, submission envelope size and how to address said envelopes to editors and agents. You name it. The font and word count issues are particularly annoying because they arise every week. Really, every single week on writer loops, message boards, and anywhere else you might find nervous and insecure writers.

    Booksquare (I know you have a name but I like writing Booksquare), thanks for the congrats and the comments about me being a nice person. You may be the only person in the blogosphere who feels that way.

  • Lorra // May 11, 2005 at 8:59 am

    Since we’re getting techinical: Please somebody tell me whether you should use Italics or underlining for emphasis, titles, etc.
    Chicago Manual says italics – but I have heard otherwise and need to know ASAP. Thank you!!!

  • Booksquare // May 11, 2005 at 10:37 am

    Underlining is an old-school way of notifying a typesetter of a difference. Italics are generally acceptable these days. I am, sadly, old school, but don’t let that bother you.