Let’s Get Tech-y: How to Create Style Tags

Hey you guys! I did a thing! I created a YouTube video on my very own YouTube channel that now has exactly ONE video!

It’s taken a while, but YES, YouTube!

In many of my previous tech-y posts, I’ve talked about how to work in Microsoft Word in order to prepare a manuscript to the industry standards. Agents and acquisitions editors are pleased when clients understand some of these basics and can put together a manuscript that has the key elements (as I noted in this post and various posts thereafter).

A feature of Microsoft Word that is somewhat unknown is style tagging. Word has a powerful way of either messing up your documents (despite your best-laid plans) or making them consistent and beautiful. You just need to know the process.

The purpose of this video came from my designer/typesetter friend who has been trying to explain to his clients why style tags are so necessary in the process of designing and typesetting books. He knows this is my wheelhouse, so he wrote and asked me to “please find a way to explain the why and how of style tagging!”

This can be helpful whether you’re a college student writing papers and trying to have consistent subheads or an author preparing your manuscript to be typeset.

(Note that this is sort of a step beyond what most people need to know. If you do all of the steps I’ve outlined in previous posts, you’ll be good to go.)

If, however, you’re considering self-publishing your book and creating it yourself, or if you hope to work in the publishing industry one day, understanding this part of the process of prepping manuscripts for typesetting (flowing the Word document into an InDesign program, for example), will show that you really know your stuff.

I teach style tagging to my Professional Writing students for that very reason.

And this process is much more complex than my previous posts where I could do screenshots; hence, the video. If this part of the process intrigues you, well here you go.

As I have time, I’ll go back through all of my tech-y posts and add an accompanying video.

Do you have any particular issues with Microsoft Word or with creating a manuscript that you have questions about? I’m happy to help, or at least try to find the answer for you. Let me know in the comments below, or write me through the contact form.

Love Those Summer Interns

One thing about teaching is the enjoyment I get from watching my students take what they learn and use it. I have to admit, I love the feeling of giving them something that will help them land a job and succeed at it.

That’s why I love teaching editing. I tell my students that if they can master the skills I try to teach them, they’ll have a foot in the door for working in publishing.

So I love it when summer comes and my students are interning somewhere. For instance, Nathan tweeted this last week:

It isn’t easy, Nathan, but it’s a great lesson.

Speaking of great lessons, I guess he learned this one yesterday:

It may have been because of this . . .

Then there are the shoutouts that let me know that what I’m teaching does matter and is helping them in their professional lives:


Yep, working with style tags is vital. I tell my students that learning this will give them a huge advantage and so much value to their supervisors. My students learn how to work with the technical side in order to prep a manuscript for typesetting and for e-booking.

And according to Alex, I guess I was right!

Alex is also getting some terrific hands-on editor-style training:

I’m so thrilled that the publishing houses where these students are interning are giving them more responsibility than just sorting, filing, or making coffee. They’re getting real world experience, they get to see the publishing process up close, they get to get their hands dirty (well, in Nathan’s case, perhaps learning how to stop the printer in the middle of a several hundred page manuscript).

As someone who, in the business side of my life, has worked with interns, I know it can feel a little overwhelming trying to train another person and keep him or her busy on top of your own work. But also as someone who teaches in the college classroom and attempts to prepare my students for those internships (and indeed find them), I thank you from the bottom of my heart. What you’re giving to these students–your knowledge, your expertise, your skills–is invaluable.