Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Captions are a Must

A picture is worth 1000 words, or so they say. But a picture without a caption isn’t worth very much. Identifying all of the people in a picture is of great value to your reader. Include when the picture was taken or the age of the person, even if it is only approximate. If the place is important then include that also. The information in the caption creates more value and interest in your book. Captions can be done in a different font style from the text so they stand out when they appear close to the text. A font that I see used frequently and looks very nice is bold italics in the Times Roman font.

Here are some links to web pages that explain how to use captions correctly in Word 2007:

And in Word 2003:

Remember the captions!

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Set of Eyes

You have finally finished your book. (Yea!) It has been a time consuming effort and now it's ready to be published. There is just one more thing to do first. Don’t forget to have someone else proofread the manuscript before sending it to the publisher. It is amazing, but true, that another set of eyes will see things that you didn’t notice. They will be able to catch typos or confusing sentences that you missed (probably because you were so focused on the information). It has helped me and many of the people I have worked with, so don’t forget to have another set of eyes look over your book before you have it printed.

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Margins and white space

Margins and white space add a nice feel and a good visual image for your book. I usually recommend that you have about a one inch margin on all sides for letter-size books. Feel free to fudge on those margins with pictures and graphics where the information on the edges isn’t as important. You can enlarge a picture to fill the whole page with very small margins if the main subject of the picture is in the center. If your book is more than 500 pages and you are trying to reduce the number of pages (to keep it from being too heavy), then a 0.5 to 0.6 inch margin will work.

Depending on the binding you will lose a little of the page to the gutter (the inside margin of the binding edge). Most worgutterd processing programs allow you to compensate for this in page setup. Set your document for mirror margins for the whole document, and make the gutter 0.1 or 0.15, depending on the thickness of your book. This will shift the pages left (even pages) or right (odd pages) away from the gutter so it is easier to read.

You can also add a nice look to your book by moving the beginning of the chapters down on the page. Move the text a couple of inches down the page and it will stand out and be easier for the reader to find the beginning of the chapter. Test this out with a few different margins and spacing to see which you like best.

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Annual Family DVD

Each year for the past five years I have created a DVD that has pictures and video clips. My family loves watching them over and over and I enjoy making them. They take some time to make, but the end product turns out so good that it makes all worth it. I edit the video quite a bit so that it is interesting and I put the pictures into a slide show with musical background.

I thought that I would share some of the lessons that I have learned.

1. I transfer all of the video tapes for the year to the computer and then I make one set of DVDs without editing. I have found that if I make this set first then it’s not hard to cut out a lot of the video because I have a copy of the complete, raw video that I can personally watch if I want to see more. Maybe it is just a psychological thing but it works for me.

2. I work with a PC all day, every day and I love how it makes my life easier. But when it came to making videos, it didn’t work very well at all. I tried many different programs and even bought a new computer, but as soon as I did some video editing it wouldn’t work. I finally came to the realization that it wasn’t going to work on my PC. With my friend’s prompting, I bought a Mac and within a few weeks I had a perfect DVD to share with my family. Maybe there are new PC programs that will work now, but for me, the Macintosh is the only way to go. It works every time and editing is very easy.

3. Videos take a lot of memory, so I would suggest that you get as large of a hard drive as you can afford. You will also want to have an external hard drive that you can use as a back up. (See last week’s post about backing up.)

4. Plan a time of year to do it. For me, it works best to produce the DVD in January.

5. Put several different video clips on the DVD. Don’t try to put everything into one, long movie. If you break it down into shorter video segments then your family can watch the clips they want without having to sit through clips that they aren’t interested in (i.e. the clips they aren’t in.)

6. If you don’t have the desire or time to do it yourself, you can hire someone to do it for you, but remember that the editing decisions need to be yours. A stranger won’t know which shots are the most important to your family.

Chris Stevenson

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Make a Backup & Store it Elsewhere

We live in a very fast, electronic age. It makes our life so much easier, but there is a little more risk. One of the risks of working with your book on a computer is loosing all or part of your computer files. I know that you have heard this before, but it is especially important to make backup copies each time that you work on your book. Make sure that your backups are on either a flash drive or separate disk so if the computer crashes or gets a virus you won’t lose both original and backup files. Something else that often gets overlooked is the possibility of disaster so occasionally store a backup copy in another location with a friend, relative, online, or at work in case you have a fire or flood. It is hard enough to gather all of the information and type it up the first time; I don’t want you to have to do it all over again.

Chris Stevenson