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© 2010 Ugur Akinci
The traditional book format (“codex”) is under serious attack both from online and ebook platforms, and structured documents that have “topic” as their most basic information unit instead of the “page.”
However I believe the book format will be with us for a long time to come while XML-based non-book formats continue to make important inroads into the traditional book/manual territory.
What’s more, given the fact that the iPhone and iPad nurtured new generation is steadily weaned away from the book format, if and when a technical book is needed, those who still really know how to put together a great manual will be the high-paid specialists and “codex consultants” of the post-codex era.
For those who doubt my forecast, here are some questions to prove my point by way of revealing the complicated nature of the process with which a technical book is put together. It’s not an easy process. It requires good thoughtful answers to many of the following questions:
(1) Will the book have a TOC, and if so, how will it be formatted?
(2) How will the Headers and Sub-Headers look?
(3) Which fonts will be used for the headers, body text, captions, etc?
(4) Will Headers start on a new page? How will they be aligned on the page?
(5) Will there be any sidebars, pull-out quotes, text within a box, any screened passages or paragraphs?
(6) Will the first line of each paragraph be indented?
(7) Are there going to be any footnotes? How will they be formatted? Will they follow each chapter or placed at the bottom of every page?
(8) Will there be any text notes? How will they be formatted? Will they follow each chapter or placed at the bottom of every page or at the v ery end of the book?
(9) Will there be any tables? How will they be formatted? How will they look if they span across multi-pages? Will they have Table Titles and how will they be formatted?
(10) Will the pages be in portrait or landscape orientation, or both?
(11) What will be the page size(s), margins, column numbers, gap and gutter dimensions?
(12) How will the page numbers be formatted? Will they be prefixed with chapter or volume numbers? Will they continue throughout the chapter in a single sequence or will there be multiple flows each starting from 1?
(13) How will the non-body pages (like Front Matter, TOC, end matter, etc.) be numbered?
(14) Will there be an Index, and if so, how will it be formatted?
(15) Will there be appendices, and if so, how will they be formatted?
(16) How will the character and paragraph styles look like?
(17) Will there be any master pages, and if so, how will they be formatted?
(18) Will there be any cross-references, and if so, how will they be formatted?
(19) Is there going to be a Bibliography? If so, how will it be formatted?
(20) How will the images, charts and graphics be formatted? How will they be imported and anchored?
(21) Will there be any scientific equations in the book? If so, how will they be formatted?
(22) What will the Front and Back Covers look like? What information will they display other than the title?