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Formatting Guidelines for Articles Submitted to Bible.org

Related Media
If you are interested in submitting materials to our website, below are some instructions. To make the conversion to HTML as smooth as possible, it would help if you would follow these guidelines:
  • Please download the file above. It will include 02joel.doc, 03amos.doc, FormattingGuidlines.doc, and Normal.dot. (Instructions for installing the Normal.dot file are at the bottom of this article.)
  • Read the  guidelines below and follow the instructions, especially under the First Things First heading. Try to follow our paragraph styles as you write your materials, or convert your current materials to our scheme of paragraph styles.
    This means that you assign Heading 1 or Heading 2 or Body Text or Quote paragraph styles like we do in the sample 02joel.doc or 03amos.coc.
  • Email us the article for submission and we will insert it into our submission procedure. We'll handle converting it to HTML. Please remember that we receive hundreds of requests per year and cannot include all of them on our site.
  • If you have questions, email us.

Introduction

We have a fairly efficient method of converting documents to the web or ePub so that they have a consistent look. We do this by making sure that our source documents are all formatted with a standard set of paragraph styles. That way, we can open up a document in our conversion program and just click a button and it does most of the work for us. It would be very helpful if you could submit documents that follow our styles. But if you don’t use our style names, if you have your own styles and follow the guidelines below, we can always run a search and replace on your styles and convert them to our names and then run them through the conversion process.

File Naming convention

There are a couple reasons to break a book or series into multiple docs. The main one is if you want your footnote numbers to start over with each chapter or section. When multiple documents that make up a series are submitted, it is important that they are sorted in the directory correctly. The easiest way to handle this is to put numbers at the beginning of the file name. For example, theological journals are typically printed two or four times a year. And they typically have a volume and number system of numbering. Plus there are several articles in each volume/issue. So, we might name the files jets01a01.doc, jets01a02.doc, etc. Or if you had a series of articles on John, you could name them 01a02.doc, etc. Or if you had a series of articles on John, you could name them john01.doc, 01a02.doc, etc. Or if you had a series of articles on John, you could name them john01.doc, john02.doc, 01a02.doc, etc. Or if you had a series of articles on John, you could name them john01.doc, john02.doc, john03.doc, etc. If you have more than 9 documents, be sure to put a “0” (zero) in front of the 1. That way if a book has 11 or 12 articles, they will be sorted correctly.

Formatting Documents

Things You Should Never Do

I hate to start with the negatives, but my hope is that after reading the list, you will say to yourself, “I do that. Why shouldn’t I.” And you will want to read more to find out why.

·         Never hit the Tab key. Tabs don’t convert to the web. So, don’t put them before the first line of a paragraph, after numbers, to make columns, etc. (I’ve often threatened to glue an upside down tack on some people’s tab keys to help them remember)

·         Never just click the list bullet or list number buttons on the tool bar.

·         Never click that center button or right align button on the tool bar.

·         Never manually change a paragraph to look different, except for use of bold and italics.

·         Never use columns.

·         Never use the Insert Symbol dialog box to insert characters. Always use the Alt + whatever character sequence.

Now, let’s see why…

Do Use Paragraph Styles

There are several reasons for using paragraph styles:

Provide Consistent Appearance

If you don’t use paragraph styles, you will have to remember that you were using 14 point, bold, Palatino for all your second level headings.  You will have to manually change every quote to a certain font size, paragraph margin, leading paragraph space, etc.  Chances are good that you will forget to change some of them, or change them to something different. If you use paragraph styles to format a document, then everything in the document will have a consistent appearance.

Global modification of a document

If you compose a whole document, and then at a later date, decide you want to change the look of your quotes, headings, bullet lists, or whatever, using paragraph styles will enable you to modify the whole document by just changing the characteristics of one or two styles.

A little known feature of Word is that if you define all your paragraph styles to be based on a style other than Normal, you can actually change the “base” style and all the others will change too. For example, if I define Body Block to be Times, 12 point and base all my other styles (bullet lists, quotes, etc.) on Body block, and then later change Body Block to 10 point or Arial, every style based on Body Block in my document will change to 10 point or Arial.

Enables other advanced features of Word
Outlining/Table of Contents

Any document that has “Heading 1,” “Heading 2,” etc. assigned, can easily have a table of contents generated with the correct page numbers. And it would be easily updated if we changed the file from 8 ½ by 11 inches to 6 by 9 inches.

Exporting to PowerPoint

If you compose a document and then later decide to create a PowerPoint presentation from the contents of your Word document, PowerPoint has the ability to import the outline from a Word Document. It will do your work for you.

Facilitates the Conversion Process

If you need to convert a Word document to another format such as HTML, XML, etc., then a document formatted with paragraph styles will be easy to convert because all conversion programs look for paragraph styles in the conversion process.  If you don’t use styles, the conversion programs will convert your documents, but what you get will be almost impossible to clean up.

Applying Paragraph Styles

Understand that Microsoft Word automatically assigns the Normal paragraph style to everything. However, you should never use the Normal style. Apply styles to everything. But, don’t apply styles by how they look. Apply them according to their function. I like to divide styles into three types: structure, function and appearance.

Structure Styles

Word has certain styles that it naturally understands as structural styles. These are your Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc. styles.

Structure refers to the logical flow of a document. You present your main point, followed by sub points and perhaps even sub sub points. If you are writing a proposal, a sermon, a term paper, etc. it must have decent structure. It helps with creating a neat, consistent appearance, generating tables of contents, outlining, reader understanding, and conversion to other electronic forms.

Never assign a Heading X because you like the way it looks. Assign these paragraph styles according to the level the sentence has in the outline. And NEVER assign a Heading style to a whole paragraph. Keep your headings short!

Bad Structure

Hopefully, you would never submit a paper to anyone with the following outline:
(Notice how we skipped from  H1 to H3 and H2 to H5.)

I. Main Point (H1)

1. Sub Sub Point (H3)

2. Sub Sub Point (H3)

3. Sub Sub Point (H3)

A. Sub Point (H2)

1. Sub Sub Point (H3)

2. Sub Sub Point (H3)

B. Sub Point (H2)

(1). Sub Sub Sub Sub Sub point  (H5)

(1). Sub Sub Sub Sub Sub point (H5)

(1). Sub Sub Sub Sub Sub point (H5)

II. Main Point

Good Structure

This is the proper way:

I. Main Point

A. Sub Point

1. Sub Sub Point

2. Sub Sub Point

a. Sub Sub Sub Point

b. Sub Sub Sub Point

(1) Sub Sub Sub Sub Point

(2) Sub Sub Sub Sub Point

B. Sub Point

II. Main Point

Notice that we never skip a level. If you were to skip a level, it’s more difficult to convert the document to some formats because they are picky about things like that. That may not be a concern to most, but even if all you wanted to do was to automatically generate a table of contents for the document, it would look bad.

Function Styles

All the other styles should be applied according to their function in the document. Styles like Author, Bibliography, Caption, Editor, List Bullet, List Number, Quote, Scripture, Title, etc. are assigned to paragraphs to identify their function in the document. It should be obvious where to assign those.

A Note about List Number Style – Don’t use this unless your numbered list is all together and it’s important that you have a hanging indent appearance. List numbers with intervening paragraphs that are not “list number” cause problems. As much as possible, just use Body Text and manually insert your number.

Appearance Styles

As much as we’d like, we can’t get by with just structural and functional styles. Some stuff still needs to be assigned a style so that it looks a certain way. Below is a list of what we use and explanations of why.

Body Block – paragraphs that are not indented

Body Text – normal first line indented paragraphs – this will be used on the majority of paragraphs. Yes this is really a function style, but it needed explanation.

Center – apply this to text you want centered. And apply it to graphics inserted into the document. Don’t apply this to a heading! Change the formatting of the Heading style so that all the Heading 1’s or whatever are centered if you want them centered.

Poetry – assign to poetry. If you are trying to stagger your text, assign Poetry1 and Poetry2 or something like that.

Quote – should be obvious

Right Align – for some short phrase or name that you want on the right side of the doc. Like the book reviewer’s name at the end of a book review.

Scripture – if there is a long block quote that is a passage from the Bible, then assign the Scripture style. This will look like a Quote, but it saves us time later when we tag the sgml as numbers in this style are ignored in verse tagging. You might also want all your scripture quotations in italics, so while the indention would be the same as a quote, the font for all scripture quotations could be global changed if you used a different style name.

Subtitle – use for centered bold stuff that is not part of the structure of the document. Since it is not part of the “outline”, you wouldn’t assign a heading.

TabA, TabB, etc. – REMEMBER: WE NEVER USE TABS! However, sometimes we need to emulate the appearance of tabs in the text with staggering indents. For example – you might have a literary device called a chiasm that looks like this:

Prodigal Son has a wild party

Prodigal Son is in need

Prodigal Son Repents

Prodigal Son Returns

Prodigal Son receives provisions from father

Prodigal Son attends father’s party

Or you might have an outline at the beginning of section to give an overview of where the reader is going, but it is not part of the main structure of the document. So, you could use the TabA, TabB, etc. styles to preserve the indentations.

Table, TableC, TableR – First of all – we cannot use columns in a document. We must put parallel text in tables. Assign these styles to the text inside tables. Table is left aligned. TableC is for centered text, TableR is for right aligned text.

Other Formatting details

Elipsis – convert . . . to elipsis. A macro is provided.

Fancy quotes – use fancy quotes – a macro is provided.

Small caps and All Caps need to have character styles applied – don’t use the format font menus. Small caps works fine in HTML, but ePub’s do not support this at the present time.

Tabs – I repeat – don’t use tabs anywhere – they don’t translate to html. Use paragraph styles and tables.

Footnotes

Make sure the first paragraph in a footnote is assigned the Footnote Text paragraph style. If you have multiple paragraph footnotes, you can make the successive paragraphs Quote, Center, etc.

Tables

You cannot make fancy tables with columns that span rows. Keep them simple.

Graphics

Never use the Word drawing program. Use some external program and save the graphic as a jpg and insert the file into word.

DON’T use floating pictures, make them in line. If you put the document in Normal View or Draft View, and the pictures disappear, you’ll know you did them wrong.

Assign the “Center” style to pictures.

Installation Instructions

Install the normal.dot file. You can rename it to something else if you’d like.

in windows xp put the file in:

C:\Documents and Settings\your username\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

in windows 7 put the file in:

C:\Users\your username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates

Using Our Template

Go to file, new and chose the template (if you renamed it to something other than Normal.dot).

Then with an empty doc, do File, Insert and insert your file. Then you will have our styles available to you for reformatting.

Conclusion

Those are the basics of formatting. Take a look at the 02joel.doc and 03amos.doc to see how we used styles on those documents. (Note: the Scripture references in red were added so that the automatic Scripture tagger that we use will recognize the reference and enable the convenient Scripture tagging. Do not use just the numbers...use a standard reference.)

And feel free to email us if you have questions. Email us