Every time I receive a manuscript by email –the only way we take them– I struggle with reading it on my laptop. It’s not so bad if it’s in a MS Word format, but an 8.5 x 11 pdf just does not fit well on my screen.
All of the word-processors and pdf-making software programs out there are set up with standard page formats: Letter, Legal, #10 Envelope, various European sizes. And that makes sense if the output destination is a printer.
But what if your destination is a monitor screen, as are more and more of the things we write? Letter-sized PDFs are awkward to read on a monitor and require excessive scrolling. A “half-letter” or “half-legal” size is perfect for reading on a screen, but most of our submitters would never think of it, or be afraid to submit a piece that way, because it is not an acceptable industry “standard”.
And the reflection on us if we buck the “standard” might not be acceptable, either.
Here’s the thing. As a publisher, all of our submissions are electronic. For final output to a book layout, the dimensions of a digital file do not matter. But for reading on a screen, they most certainly do.
We do not, as a rule, print manuscripts on a printer. And there is a lot more digital content out there on the web which is not meant to be printed out in a letter format. Why do we insist on this being our standard in the digital age?
So why don’t we have standard “Screen” layouts for our software programs. It really doesn’t make sense not too.