Write It – Style Sheets

Learn to use style sheets. It’s worth your time and trouble.

Here’s why:

  • When documents are converted to ebook format, much of what you did to space it out and such will be lost. Extra blank lines will be compacted out, for instance. If you use these style sheets, most of what you do will survive conversion (except font selections and size — that’s under the control of the eReader). The one exception is the pdf version which will convert true (and isn’t scalable).

So, What do the styles do?

My styles are all based upon “normal”, which I define as:

  • Font: Georgia 12 pt,
  • English (U.S.),
  • Flush left
  • single spaced
  • widow/orphan control

Use your own definition.

All of the other styles inherit these characteristics unless overridden. You can create a new style simply by specifying an existing style and then modifying your new style with whatever changes you wish. If you make a change in a base style (such as “Normal”) all the styles based upon it will change. For instance, if you’ve written several paragraphs and you decide you’d rather see Times New Roman, just change “Normal” from Georgia to Times New Roman and your document will automatically update when you finish the change.

One style you will use a lot, would be “Normal Indent” (my name, create your own). My definition is: ‘Normal + Indent: First 0.17″ ‘. In other words, it inherits everything from “Normal” but indents the first line of each paragraph by 0.17″.

You can create variations of “Normal” for Heading levels (with “page break before” as part of the definition), centered lines, paragraphs with an extra space before, etc.

You can also create a “shortcut key”. Shortcut keys will be unique to your computer, they don’t travel with the style sheet.

About shortcut keys:

  • Most shortcut keys in your computer probably use the ctrl button, ctrl-alt, or ctrl-shift. That leaves the alt and alt-shift combination free for your use. For instance, you can create alt-c as your shortcut for “NormalCentered” if you wish.

Shortcut keys can save you a lot of extra work when you’re writing. And they’re less likely to break your concentration as you create your story.

WARNING – WARNING – WARNING!

Under NO circumstances EVER use a text box in your document!!!! Smashwords chokes on them and won’t tell you where they are so you can fix it.

Also, you may want to avoid headers and footers. They just don’t work in eBooks.

Don’t use manual page breaks. Instead, change the first paragraph on the next page to force a “page break before”. Most of the time, you won’t need to do this because you’ll be using the heading styles.

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