15th EditionAppendix A: Design and Production—Basic Procedures and Key Terms

A1   A2   A3   A4   A5   A6   A7   A8   A9   A Key Terms


Characteristics of the Work

At the initial stage of planning a design, the designer needs information about the nature of the project and the audience for whom it is intended. Although the same basic concerns underlie the design of both books and journals, a journal usually maintains the same typographical specifications (or specs) for years and as such is designed to accommodate general categories rather than specific pieces of text (see 1.162–64). Books are usually designed individually, although those in a particular series may follow a single set of specifications. (Electronic forms of both journals and books present additional issues for a designer that are not covered here. The design of dust jackets, paperback covers, and packaging for electronic storage media also involves technical and marketing considerations beyond the scope of this appendix. For works covering these topics, see section 2.6 of the bibliography.)

To develop specifications for a publication, the designer must know about such elements as the categories of text that appear in the manuscript; the placement of notes (footnotes or endnotes?); the kind and number of illustrations, including tables, graphs, or charts; and the material to be included in the preliminary pages and the back matter. Many book publishers, including Chicago, communicate such information internally through an editorial transmittal sheet that accompanies the manuscript to the design and production department (see fig. A.3). Such fact sheets are often not enough; subsequent conferences between editor and designer may be necessary to clarify any unusual features of a project.

The length of the original manuscript and the desired length of the published work are crucial pieces of information for the designer. Because the overall cost of services and materials used in the production and manufacture of a printed work depends on its length, a publisher will often specify a target page count for the publication, taking into account the length of the manuscript. From this starting point, the designer can calculate the number of words or characters that must fit onto a page. (Works published electronically are not necessarily subject to the same length restrictions as their print counterparts; see 1.130 and 1.189–90.)

The character count of a book manuscript can be determined through a castoff, which is performed on a version of the manuscript that is final (at least in terms of the number, nature, and length of its parts) and complete in all essentials. Ideally, a castoff involves counting each character—that is, every letter, mark of punctuation, and space between words—in the text. With heavily edited material, this would be the only way to ascertain a manuscripts true length. A more common and less time-consuming method is to count both the number of characters in an average line and the number of lines in the entire manuscript and then multiply these numbers to get a total character count. The character count function in many word-processing programs will also provide a quick record of a documents length, but this function does not necessarily tell the designer everything essential about the nature of the characters being counted.

Since each category of text will likely be given its own set of type characteristics, the designer needs not just a total character count for the work but a count broken down by type of material. For front matter, manuscript closely mirrors typeset pages, so character counts are not as useful. Similarly, for material in which certain line breaks must be observed—poetry, notes, bibliographies, and glossaries—calculating the number of lines is often more helpful than performing a character count. With these two exceptions in mind, a typical character count might read as follows:

Text 700,000 . . .
Extracts 50,000 . . .
Appendix 85,000 . . .
Notes . . . 360
Bibliography . . . 240

The number of illustrations and tables and any peculiarities of size and formatting should be noted along with the text character count; characters in tables and legends need not be counted. Dividing the numbers in the castoff by the target number of characters per printed page—taking into account illustrations and other nontext material—will give a fair estimate of the length of the finished publication (see figs. A.4–6).