Character Styles and Layout from Word

Late last month, I wrote about paragraph styles in InDesign. Although at the beginning of that writing, I talked about how I convert marked-up copy with grep searches and why that needed to have standardized naming conventions for styles. When I finished that article, I realized I began by saying “when I first started doing layout” to introduce the marked-up copy concept, and never went into how I currently prefer receiving copy. That way? Word documents.

Marked-up copy has several things that can slow down conversion to layout. Just to name a few: authors have to manually insert [bold], [h2], and other tags; an author might not close the tag correctly, which will mess up your grep queries; an author might label things like the headings incorrectly.

A Word document seems to take care of all that.

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Start with six paragraph styles, wind up with sixty

When I first started doing layout for RPGs, I was given marked up text and I tended to use that early on. The copy would come from the editor or author and be full of what looked like HTML in brackets or angle-brackets: [em]this would be set in italics[/em], <dice>8</dice> would mean to put in an 8-sided die graphic, while [ih]this could be an inline header (and it took me forever to find out what “ih” meant). The work would consist of taking this plain, unstylized text, and doing several grep searches inside InDesign to replace the markup copy with stylized copy.

For projects like The Fate Codex, I had this pretty much down pat. It worked for that because that project was a series of documents, all using the same paragraph and character styles.

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Choosing Typefaces for Layout

When starting on a new book project, one of the first things I think of are the typefaces for the interior. How to choose what to use to convey the information to the reader? How heavy should the type look in a character, line, paragraph, and on the page as a whole?

I see four major areas for copy treatment when it comes to roleplaying games: the body copy, the headings, the sidebars, and the tables. Depending on the game, there may be statblocks that need to be detailed, but for the most part a treatment that incorporates the sidebar and table styles are a good starting point for these. I do not consider statblocks as high in the hierarchy of design elements as tables or sidebars are.

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