Instructions for Idiots

I received this from the editors of the volume in Spain to which I want to contribute:

They think we are complete idiots but I can’t feel offended because after years of working with academics… I don’t blame these editors.


2 thoughts on “Instructions for Idiots

  1. “think we are complete idiots but I can’t feel offended because after years of working with academics”

    If doctors are the worst patients… teachers are the worst at following (other people’s) directions… and I’m no exception.


  2. Yes, but the editors are also complete idiots.

    This reads a lot like forcing the submitters to do an accurate and total job of formatting without providing anything that would be useful or helpful toward that end.

    So why are the editors idiots?

    All of that crap they want can be done with a style template in Microsoft Word.

    Make a DOT file, make a DOTX file, and anyone with a 21st century version of a Microsoft Word compatible word processor (including ancient versions of LibreOffice) can comply with the essential requirements.

    Then the requirements would be that they have to style every part of the document correctly, but choosing the formatting would be done for them by doing that.

    I can tell when I’m dealing with editors who are true professionals at getting manuscripts ready for publication versus everyone else.

    Elite tier: we’ve swapped style templates, now waiting for your restyled manuscript and support files, you obviously know what you’re doing.

    Professionals working with professionals: oh, so you have a style template, here’s our style template, load that into Word and apply it, see if you have anything that didn’t get styled so you can fix it, and also if you have vector source files for your artwork, send those along for our prepress process.

    Professionals working with people who want to be professionals: style everything you have using standard Word styles, we can fix whatever you do with our style template as long as you don’t do any spot formatting, and we’ll redo all of your artwork anyway.

    Everyone else: we can’t communicate our professional standards to you and so we’ll make you jump through hoops so that our broken processes that you’ll undoubtedly help to keep broken can continue to produce something usable.

    Following the general theme, editors are the worst at streamlining editing processes, in part because once streamlined you have no need for these one-up power games and can get everything done better without them.

    Seriously, fuck these people: make the Default Paragraph Font (DPF) Courier New in the document template so that unstyled text shows up as fixed width, add styles for fixed width text that uses the publisher’s preferred fixed width typeface, and make sure all of the standard styles override Default Paragraph Font.

    Resetting DPF to something other than Times New Roman is tricky, but doable, and it’s also doable to reset every standard style to something other than DPF.

    Wait … why Courier New?

    PostScript printers ship with certain standard fonts, including Courier.

    Anything styled with Courier or Courier New means it’s not actually styled correctly!

    So you run the print output of the Word file through Acrobat Distiller (which is technically a PostScript printer simulator) and then check to see if anything in the Font table shows up as Courier or Courier New, which is a super easy check.

    Also … do you do anything with Word without styles?


    Don’t feel offended, feel like there’s “room for improvement” and get to doing that. 🙂

    So … have y’all out there in Spanish academic journal land seen the beauty of the Albertus typeface family?

    It’s so easy to use if you have style sheets: give your authors the Times New Roman style sheet, make them use it 100% of the time, and then apply your internal style sheet with Albertus before searching for formatting stragglers prior to integrating the text into your publishing layout.

    The entire look of Albertus screams of academic classicism, all the more reason to like it. 🙂

    Why do I know all of this stuff?

    You think you have it bad in this part of academics?

    Try dealing with the kinds of things required for architectural publications.

    [also, don’t come at me with Calibri, bro] 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.