Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ye Olde Grammarian (No. 6): A Hodgepodge, Plus Some E-Book Formatting Tips

Otherwise known as a potpourri, pastiche, melange, mishmash, or gallimaufry!
(you can find a word game on this website!)
       I recently read somewhere about certain conventions of print books that I realized I had been flagrantly violating.  (I checked a bunch of books that I own and by golly, both these things are true.)
       First, don't use "by" on the cover and title page.  Unfortunately, I have done that consistently, until the last two books in the Ki'shto'ba series, where I dropped the "by" on the cover.  I did, however, retain it on the title page, again for the sake of consistency. 
       The other convention is that the first paragraph of a chapter or chapter section is not indented.  Sometimes they even use a few letters in all caps.  After I learned this, I tried not indenting, but it just didn't look right to me, so again for the sake of consistency I persisted in indenting the first paragraph.
       So I make my mea culpas.  In my next publication, I may amend my ways.  In the meantime, if it really bothers you that I use "by" on the cover and t.p. or that I indent the opening paragraphs, I guess you just can't read my books, or you can read the e-books, where clarity is the only rule that really applies.
       I am very much aware that a writer should italicize the names of ships.  I didn't do that in v. 5 and 6 of The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head.  Somehow I thought it seemed artificial.  I think the Shshi consider their ships as something more than inanimate objects, so, since one does not italicize the names of individuals, it seemed wrong not to treat ships the same way.  You'll notice that I did italicize the name of the human ship in v. 6.  And that's saying more than I should.
       So I don't want to hear any complaints that I don't know that rule!
       Now I want to talk about backward apostrophes.  In Word, most people use curly apostrophes  and when you type a single apostrophe, it comes out like this: He said, ‘I see you.’  An initial single apostrophe always opens to the right, which is correct for a quotation mark.  But when the apostrophe signifies an omission, it shouldn't open to the right -- it should open to the left.  Wrong: Eat ‘em up!  It should be Eat ’em up!  So how did I make it go the right way?  I type this: Eat ‘’em up! and then go back and delete the first apostrophe.  I get irked every time I read a book formatted by somebody who doesn't know you can do this.
       So what's with the word or words "alright" and "all right"?   Here is the Usage Note under "alright" in
"The form alright as a one-word spelling of the phrase all right in all of its senses probably arose by analogy with such words as already and altogether. Although alright is a common spelling in written dialogue and in other types of informal writing, all right is used in more formal, edited writing."
       It may be becoming common to spell it "alright," but it still irks me when I encounter it in an otherwise well-edited book.

       I have always had problems knowing whether to use "a while" or "awhile."   Read what Grammar Girl has to say about it -- it's basically what I finally came up with on my own.  "Awhile" is an adverb.  "I stayed awhile."  "He stared at the girl awhile and then approached her." 
       "A while" is simply an article plus a noun, and that construction is required when an object is involved, for example, in prepositional phrases: "I stayed for a while." "He left after a while."  Grammar Girl gives this example, which may confuse some people.  "It's been a while since he visited."  The reason you use the noun form here is that "to be" in a copular, or linking, verb and takes a predicate nominative or a predicate adjective rather than an adverb.  (You wouldn't say, "He's been quietly for a while,' would you?  You would say, "He's been quiet for a while."  "Quiet" is an adjective modifying "he.")  Esoteric, you say?  You should have heard my mother expounding on linking verbs!  Some other linking verbs are "to become," "to feel ," to smell," etc.  If you're interested in pursuing this further, go here.

       I'm going to reiterate what I said in an earlier post about using commas in terms of address.  It's the old "Let's eat, Grampa" vs. "Let's eat Grampa" dichotomy.  In my earlier post I said this: "The use of the vocative (i.e., an instance where you are addressing someone) is related to this.  ...  Here is another [example] as to why you should set off the name of the person addressed with a comma:
       What don't you want to tell John?
       What don't you want to tell, John?
       I recently read a book where the language got really confused because of the omission of commas.  I was always having to stop and go back and figure out what the author meant.  I think it's a British tendency to omit commas in this sort of construction, but I do wish people would return to the old rule.

To read my other Olde Grammarian posts, go to

Summary of how to do ToC links on Smashwords

       Now I'm going to add a bit on e-book formatting using Word -- how to easily create a linked Table of Contents.  Smashwords insists that you do this, but Kindle doesn't care.  I get irritated when an e-book doesn't have a ToC linked to the chapters and also chapters linked back to the ToC, because it's so easy to lose your place in an e-book and this way you can always skip through by chapter.  I recommend that everybody do this on all their e-books.  It takes a little time, but it's not difficult and your readers (or at least I) will thank you.
       Make your Table of Contents (remove all links based on style, e.g., Heading 1 or ToC1, etc.)
       Select each chapter heading in the text and create Insert Bookmark (on Insert menu).  Remember, no spaces in bookmark names; abbreviate as much as you like as long as it’s clear (e.g., Ch1 for Chapter One or Note for Note to the Smashwords Edition).
       Go to ToC list and select each Chapter designation.  Then add a Hyperlink, using the Insert menu or the right-click menu.  Click on “Place in this document.”  Select the corresponding bookmark and then click on OK.
       Then make a bookmark for the heading “Table of Contents.”  Smashwords suggests using “ref_ToC” 
       Go one more time through the document text, selecting each chapter heading and making a hyperlink using “ref_ToC.”  This will link each chapter back to the top of the Table of Contents.
       Double check to make sure the ToC entries link to the correct chapters.


  1. Keep doing things the way you feel comfortable with Lorinda - I certainly have no complaints :D