Video introduction

The purpose of markup

Markup is any tool used to classify information in a document. Markup consists of tags, which tell a processor (i.e., a person, computer, or piece of software that is processing the document) what kind of information is in the document. Tagged manuscripts are already a part of every stage of book production: tags allow production editors to communicate the different design elements used in a manuscript, they tell designers how to lay out and format the different parts of the book, and they tell eReader devices such as iPads and Kindles how to display each part of an ebook.

Tagging: the old way

The old method of tagging manuscripts involved typing visible tags in brackets to the beginning of each element in a manuscript – or, with paper copyediting, physically writing the tag on a page. This is great for humans – we can see the tags and understand how they are labeling each piece of the document.

Unfortunately, computers don't know how to read these labels. They aren't able to distinguish between the tag and the rest of the text in each paragraph, so they have no idea what to do with each piece of the document or whether certain pieces should be handled differently. This means that a human needs to be involved in translating those tags to a format that computers can understand, which in our workflow means having the compositor manually apply  styles, which the computer can understand, to every paragraph in InDesign.

Styling: the streamlined way

About word styles

Word Styles are a built-in feature in Microsoft Word that allows you to apply markup to a manuscript in a way that both humans and computers can understand. In addition, styles control the way that the text is formatted in Word, ensuring that similar design elements are formatted in the same way. So, for example, you can change how every first-level heading appears in Word simply by changing the formatting of the level 1 heading style.

While Word comes with a default set of styles, we made a template with a set of styles created specifically for our use in styling manuscripts. Learn more about our template here.

Benefits of using word styles

InDesign also uses styles in a similar way, so Word style tags can be seamlessly imported into InDesign – meaning now the computer can distinguish each piece of the document, and designers can layout and format the book accordingly, with no extra work required.

By using Word Styles, we're saving that extra time that it would have taken for a vendor or in-house employee to re-tag the manuscript before design and composition. There's no more intermediary step of translating the bracketed tags into InDesign styles; the Word Styles import directly into InDesign, ready to be formatted by the designer.



While InDesign is currently the most relevant piece in our workflow, it's important to note that Word Styles also make it possible to transform the Word file into other formats, such as XML, which means we can more easily adapt our workflows as industry standards change. In other words, using Word Styles helps us to future-proof our workflows.

Other benefits

In addition to saving time and money in the book production process by removing the step of converting bracketed tags to styles, using Word styles to apply markup has other benefits as well:

  • Manuscript formatting is more uniform, because Word styles apply built-in formatting to the text.
  • We have more control over how design elements are defined and have more review passes to confirm correct tagging of design elements (e.g., copyediting, author review), which results in fewer errors in first pass proofs.
  • Formatting problems in the transmitted manuscript – which could, among other things, cause InDesign import problems – are revealed earlier in the workflow.
  • Our internal process is brought more in line with evolving industry standards.

Manuscript styling outline

Using Word Styles and the Macmillan template can be split into a few consecutive tasks. Use these links to learn about each main part:

  1. Use the Macmillan template. Macmillan uses a predefined set of styles that are stored in a central template. This segment teaches you how to install the template and attach it to your Word files.
  2. Add custom styles. Sometimes you need to create a new style for a unique element in your manuscript. Macmillan has a standard set of rules for creating and naming these kinds of custom styles, which you will learn about in this section.
  3. Run the cleanup macros. The Macmillan template includes some special scripts to help you remove extra blank paragraphs and fix character formatting before sending the file to design.

Need help?

If you have questions about manuscript styling, please contact Erica Warren ( / x6198) or Nellie McKesson ( / x5481), and we'll be happy to help.

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