Gregath Company, Incorporated
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Traditional Manuscript Preparation Introduction
[Do it yourself]
Please note that providing a hard copy manuscript may require a digitizing fee.
Click here for camera ready digital preparation.

Design Ideas
Manuscript Preparation FAQ

You have worked long and hard in this labor of love that you are preparing to share with family, friends and fellow researchers. The needs and requirements of the genealogist and historian are sometimes quite different than many other authors. We fully understand these needs and the desired results.

Manuscript preparation is very important, no matter what type of publishing process is used:

After all, a manuscript is the master from which the book is printed. While very few authors have a full set of professional skills and tools, there are several things one can learn and use that may be helpful.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind during the preparation process of a hard copy manuscript is "what you see, is what you get". For the best results use a smooth white paper.  Expensive "top of the line" computer paper is not necessary, a good "typing", copy machine or all purpose paper is fine.  Avoid colored (cream, gray, etc.), aged, colored and textured (pebbled, linen finish, etc.) as well as ultra thin (onionskin, etc.) papers. Make sure that the print is clear, consistent and as dark as possible throughout. In the end, you will be much happier if the typewriter or (non-Laser or DeskJet) printer used contains a carbon film ribbon, is in good mechanical working order and has clean unbroken strikers. More and more people are acquiring Laser or Bubble Jet/DeskJet printers and these make a very nice camera ready manuscript. In good faith, we can not recommend manual typewriters, fabric ribbons, dot matrix printers or low quality  DeskJet/Bubble Jet printers for a good finished product. Electric typewriters, daisy wheel or ball printers and laser or Bubble Jet/DeskJet printers (on high quality settings) can be borrowed or rented in most areas.

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We now offer FREE - black/white document reversal.
We will change reverse documents to standard documents.

While preparing the manuscript, store at least one hardcopy of the finished/printed pages in your manuscript box away from possible "accidents". Some of the "accidents" our customers have had to contend with include virus infested hard drives, spilled coffee, typewriter ribbon smudges, little Johnnie's chocolate candy bar, cigarette burns, lost pages and the like - to half the finished manuscript being eaten by Fido. We hate to see anyone face these unnecessary problems - so, keep it clean and safe!  Yes, take these precautions even if it is just a "computer print out" because no one knows when the computer might decide to take a holiday, or a disk may be erased, lost, etc.

You are the author and you can write and construct your book in the manner and format you like. You will determine your margins to allow for imprint area when formatting the project. One should always check with his printer/publisher to establish their impression area requirements. Most have minimum and/or maximum impression area and can suggest margin settings that will fall within. Photo, document and artwork format and location within the manuscript can vary, from desire to cost effectiveness.

Some interesting items we has seen go into genealogy and family history books include: WWII Ration book and what was left of the family stamps, photos of boot camp (including the bugler), military unit photos, listing of cemeteries (and locations) in the book, advertisements from family business, Railroad Card, etc.  Anything that someone may have (or currently "do" today) kept in/for a scrapbook should be considered. Click here for more design ideas.

Quite often folks labor under the misconception that a smaller size is less expensive. Others feel that they save money by extending margins and page length. More often than not, the end result is not what was anticipated. There are several format sizes available and there are pros and cons for all of them. In the final analysis - manuscript preparation to finished book - the 8½x11 inch format (with 1" margins*) has proven to be the most cost effective. It allows more impression area for text, photos, documents and artwork, in a book that is relatively easy to handle and fits nicely on the library shelf.

While text that is justified at both right and left margins has a tidier effect, text that is justified on the left with a ragged right is actually easier to read.  This is due to the fact that all spacing is uniform and no words are broken to wrap onto the next line.  Both of these devices, though allowing uniform right and left edges, slow the reader's eye down as the brain processes these differences.

Manuscript Preparation Alternatives:

We offer a full service (both $$$ and $$ packages) manuscript preparation service and we are familiar with genealogy and family books.
Other ideas are marked below by economy - 

Hire a professional typist that can basically ghost write for you.  They can take a stack of files (box o' stuff, etc.) and produce manuscript. 

Hire a local typist that doesn't mind lightly editing (grammar, overall format, etc.)...

$ or free:
Check local public, technical and/or higher education (English Department, Business College, etc.) to see if they'd like to take on a class project of helping you.  If the teacher's aren't thrilled about a total class project, they might be able to point out a star student that would be a lower cost alternative to a typist.

Clip Art - Different publications with prepared formats/manuscripts

Occasionally, when planning a book (coloring books are a prime example), one may need to consider whether to incorporate bleeds into the interior text block of the project.  If economy is a factor, the answer to the question is to achieve your ascetic goal some other way.  Work with your publisher on this factor if bleeds are really a high priority.  Sometimes impression area can be stretched to the point that by the time the binding trim has been taken the book looks like it was planned with bleeds - but economically, the underwriter avoided a costly option.

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Photographs and Composition
Click here for more about photos.

The author, will be the person with the final say as to what  goes into the printed book.  While many families would love to see every photo available in print, this is rarely economical.  Because of this, the author may have some major decisions on what "makes the cut".  Final decisions should include not only the quality and subject of the photograph, which may effect the tone of the picture page, but also who is in the photo.  Economically, printed photographs will be black and white, though an expensive "coffee table" book would have color printed photos.  Since not everyone has an eye for what color photos will look like in black and white, the author may get an idea by converting it.  They can either digitize it and change the color file to grayscale, or place the photo on a b/w copy machine.  A color picnic picture in a sun-dappled glade may seem perfect in composition, tone, and quality, but may not be a very good black and white photograph.

If the book will contain photographs, we can consult on our free, basic refurbishment work for photographs. If photos intended for use in the manuscript are beyond our free services, we can also quote on custom or extensive restoration or alteration work.

For the author that would also love to see every photo available in print - a book with accompanying CD may be the answer.  Select the "cream of the crop" to be printed into the actual book.  The CD - which can be attached to the book via envelope or center spindle - can contain a wealth of digital information.  Photos galore and/or original document scans, GEDCOM files, author notes on theories, etc.

For more suggestions on this subject and more, order our book:
wholesale price eligible G550-$20.00 WRITING Family History Or Genealogy For Pleasure and Profit Complete Edition, by Gregath Company, Inc., *updated* 2015. ISBN: 0-944619-00-2, 8½x11", softbound book, 126 pages, suggestions & examples of all facets of your project for the typist and/or computer user.
Also available on disk.

Note: All G prefix books 100 pages or more, this one included, that are SB can be special ordered in hard cover edition - contact for details.

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Does your finished manuscript need a bit of extra "oomph"?  If you have space within the impression area, we offer clip art objects (printer's ornaments: woodcuts, dingbats; dividers; borders; etc.) throughout your manuscript - just $4.00 each on a camera ready manuscript or $1.00 each on camera ready digital manuscript.

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*To make it easy on the author or paid manuscript preparation individual, we suggest preparing the hard copy manuscript with the uniform margins of 1" or a digital manuscript with a larger interior margin to allow for binding.  We can publish books from hard copy manuscript, the person making plates (offset), or the digital machine (print on demand) will move the 6½x9" text block (1" margins) to generally produce a book with a 1¼" binding/inside margin and a ¾" trim/outside margin - upon request, at no additional charge.  If the book is of a small page count, this may be adjusted for a smaller binding margin to center the printed page for more eye-appeal. If the book has a very large page count, a larger binding margin is allowed to reduce spine wear. Without discussion, manuscript pages will be printed with the same spacing as submitted.

It has been found that setting computer "margins" at 1" does not always give a printed page with 1" margins - as measured by physical ruler. Margin settings can be tricky and hard to learn, so, below are specific program suggestions:

If you have directions for setting margins in a different computer program and would like to send them on,
please contact us.

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This Page Last Updated: January 09, 2019

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