Manuscript Preparation

Q. I’m in search of a good solid reference work for style in books in the sciences. Thanks.

Q. When submitting a pitch package (my first novel, copyrighted) to a literary agent (query letter/synopsis/first three chapters) I have heard that it is bad manners or insulting to use the copyright symbol. Why? Is it true? Is there correct behavior?

Q. A styling trend lately that is keeping me up at night is a failure to identify new paragraphs by either a line break or an indent.
This new line of text, for example, is the sort of thing I mean. Is this a new paragraph or not? How can one tell? Does it matter?
I first spotted this ambiguous formatting in ad copy (which at the time I presumed to be bulleted points without the bullets), and then in corporate communications. But tragically, yesterday I read a review on the back of a novel that did the same thing: a new line for every sentence without letting me know if it was a new paragraph or not.
I’m already annoyed by the look of this e-mail! Please help!

Q. I’m compiling footnotes for a history book, and in several instances a newspaper is cited. Is it proper to list the city of origin in parentheses and italics for each newspaper? The paper is located in Virginia, Minnesota. The name of the paper is Mesabi Daily News. The author of the book is listing this newspaper in the footnotes as (Virginia) Mesabi Daily News. Should all the words be in italics, or just the name of the paper and not the city? Thanks for your help.

Q. In the references section of a paper I’m editing, I found a misspelled word. I checked the original journal and found that it was published with this mistake. Should I correct the typo or leave it as is? My colleague says the typo should stay because this is how it appeared in print originally. Thanks a lot!

Q. Where should illustrations and the lines of text that refer to them be placed with respect to one another? Should the illustration be allowed to interrupt the text, say with the last line of text aligned with the bottom of the illustration and saying “as in the figure to the right”? Or should the illustration always go below an unbroken paragraph?

Q. As a trial attorney, I do many pleadings and briefs, which I think look better in “full justify” (fj) alignment. This troubles my new secretary, who dislikes fj as too “rote and mechanical,” and less reader-friendly. Though I highly value her opinion, am I being too hawkish on this?

Q. I recently began working as a reporter and copy editor at a small weekly newspaper. My editor tells me to correct grammar and style errors in letters to the editor. This seems strange to me. I think those errors characterize the persons writing them and we should leave them as is. Who is right?

Q. Can you tell me the indentation for typing endnotes?

Q. The paper I am editing has five tables in the main body (which I am numbering 1 to 5) and one table in appendix 3. How should the table in the appendix be numbered?