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AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 30 (1946)

Issue: 7. (July)

First Page: 1198

Last Page: 1199

Title: Half-Page Method of Manuscript Preparation: GEOLOGICAL NOTES

Author(s): W. Armstrong Price (2)


There may be those who can compose a scientific paper in a single writing and turn it out with the proper unity, balance, and typography. This writer is seldom if ever in this class of whole-in-one authors.

To some, perhaps, the particular form of the manuscript is unimportant, provided it meets the editor's requirements in being neat, clean, and in the proper style for the intended publication. But for the many who write, revise, rearrange, and write again, there is a method of manuscript construction which sidesteps much of the agony and perplexing delay of the planless method and can greatly improve the product, while conserving time and typing and preserving freshness of composition. This is the half page method.

The half-page method is not new with this writer and may be widely known in some circles. It first came to his notice through the preparation by an attorney of a legal textbook which had something of the nature of a catalog. The book was to be set up in several sizes of type to care for quotations, tabulations, footnotes, headings, and sub-headings. The manuscript for such a book would have to be especially neat and orderly. Doubtless many concurrent additions, revisions, subtractions, and some shifting of material had to be made during its writing. The system recommended by the prospective publisher of this text has been found to be a great aid in the writing of scientific manuscripts which have required the handling of large bodies of data and the development of concepts and conclus ons as the writing progressed. They also included some material designated for special marginal indentations and type sizes in the printed form.

In the half-page method, the sheet is white bond, or even softer paper, 8.5 by 5.5 inches, with the lines of typing running across the long dimension of the sheet, the result being as though a normal typewriter sheet had been cut in two--crosswise. The distinctive feature is, however, that each paragraph begins at the top of a page. Parts of more than a single paragraph do not appear on the same sheet. The usual margins are left at top, bottom, and sides, although not necessarily so much at the bottom as with the full page.

The advantages of this method are immediately evident when we reflect that a paragraph should be a distinct entity, with a unified topic and a noun or substantive clause as its subject, not a relative pronoun which would tie it

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too closely to the preceding paragraph. Thus, a paragraph should not begin: "This is a method which promotes efficiency"; but should read: "The method described in the preceding paragraph is one which promotes efficiency"; or better still, if the context permits: "The method previously described is one," et cetera.

An evident advantage of the half-page method is that, where rewriting has to be done here and there in the manuscript, it can be done quickly and the old sheets discarded a half-sheet at a time. Only a half page need, as a rule, be rewritten for any paragraph revision. Paragraphs may be shifted to improve unification. This last item is one which can greatly clarify thinking and eliminate repetitious material including explanatory sentences which otherwise might be needed to connect distant statements.

With the half-page method, the tendency to interline pages extensively with long-hand additions is much reduced for those who indulge that habit to excess. Use of the half page, then, greatly improves the readability of one's own manuscript for himself and lightens the task of the typist who prepares the final, flawless copy.

To take care of many footnotes, tabulations, headings, and other variations of typography, it is possible to use two or more colors of half-sheets. Thus, a blue may be used for headings, pink for footnotes, yellow for extensive quotations, and light green and salmon for the list of illustrations and bibliography.

The extent to which colored sheets are used is based on the estimate of the time saved by their use over that lost in obtaining and preparing them, in selecting them from the paper-holder, and inserting them in the machine. The method has definite advantages in promoting clarity and order in thinking, in composition, and in the final typing.

The decision whether to retain the half-sheet, multi-colored form in the final manuscript or to use it only as an author's composing medium is a separate problem.

The half-page manuscript may not recommend itself to editors as the most convenient form for editorial reading and appraisal. Twice the number of sheets have to be handled, it is not the customary shape for reading, and it can not be scanned as readily as the full-sized sheet. However, for a catalog, or other article of rather formal style, it may have advantages in assisting the editor to indicate the size and style of the various types to be used. It may help the publishing staff to determine the amount of each type to be made available to the typesetters, especially in articles of book length.

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