PO Box 809
Framingham, MA 01701
NESFA Press has a house style, but it serves as a guide for editors, not a set of hard-and-fast rules. We do insist that editors have a reason for choosing to use another style, and ask that deviations from what is published here be for reasons other than ignorance or accident.
The editor of a NESFA Press book is responsible for selecting the material to be included, acquiring the text in computer-readable form, proofing it, typesetting it, and providing camera-ready copy for the entire book. The editor is also responsible for all aspects of preparing the dustjacket for printing, including selecting and procuring the art to be used. There is help available on all of this, but it's the editor's responsibility to seek it. Other folks within NESFA normally handle contracts (working closely with the editor), pricing, and production (getting the book printed and shipped).
Overall, our prejudice is for typographic simplicity. In no case should any aspect of the typography of a NESFA Press book draw attention to itself and away from the text. Our books are for readers, so editorial choices should always favor presenting reading material legibly and economically.
We highly recommend reading Teresa Nielsen Hayden's superb essay "On Copyediting" in NESFA Press's Making Book, which not only talks a lot more than we can here about book style, but does it in a far more entertaining way.
NESFA Press is not in the business of publishing scholarly texts; our books are for readers like us and are meant to be read and enjoyed. Good editing will often improve the story the author originally submitted, so we will use the best (in our judgment) version of a story produced during the author's lifetime, unless we know that the author disapproved of it. Consequently, where the original editor's work improved a story, we prefer to print the edited version. But NESFA Press is not in the business of rewriting stories posthumously even if we think we know better.
NESFA Press editors are very cautious editors, but they are editors and they do make editorial decisions.
We have a PageMaker 7 template for 5.5"x8.5" books (our most common size.)
Font: We generally use 11/12 Adobe Garamond as the body font -- it's proven to be an excellent compromise between compactness and readability. The display font varies more: as long as it is readable, it's at the editor's whim (though using Garamond for that, too, is OK, a contrasting font is preferred).
Page numbering: We number the pages using Arabic numerals starting at the very first page of the front matter and continuing to the last page. Blank pages and most pages in the front and back matter are numbered, but the number is not printed on the page. We do not re-start numbering with the first story page. (If it really bothers the editor not to use Roman numerals on the front matter, OK, but the pages are still numbered consecutively in one series from the very front to the end. E.g., page 10 follows page ix.) Blank pages never have a printed page number. When a page number is printed, it appears centered under the text on the first page of a story, and at the upper, outer corners of other text pages.
Page layout: We have a running header for all stories with the left-hand page showing the author's name and the right-hand page showing the story title (abbreviated if necessary). The author's name and story title are justified towards the gutter between the pages. The running header text is typically in small caps. There are no running headers on blank pages or on the first page of a story. The point of a running header is to give the reader a location hint in the book. So, unless it's a single novel, it's not at all useful to print the book's title in the running header -- print the title of the story or article or introduction. There is no rule under the running header.
When space is not an issue at all, stories begin about 1/3 of the way down a right-hand page with a blank, facing left-hand page. The title is above the start of the story. When this is impractical (e.g., due to having many stories) the editor does what the editor must, starting with dropping the requirement of a blank left-hand page, to simply starting a story on the next available page (left or right), or even setting the stories run-in where a new story begins a few blank lines after the end of the previous story. The title is typically set in small caps.
Text is always justified -- we don't do ragged right. We indent paragraphs and have the space between paragraphs the same as the space between other lines. We prefer indents of 0.25" or less. (N.b., an area where NESFA Practice has not yet converged is whether or not to indent paragraphs which start a story or section of a story so that the preceding blank line signals the start of the paragraph. There is a persuasive school within NESFA which holds that the only time we should indent a paragraph is when the indent is needed to distinguish it from the paragraph before. Stay tuned.)
We do not ever use a blank line (either a whole or a partial line) between ordinary paragraphs. We use a blank line for scene and time changes and use the indent to mark the start of an ordinary paragraph.
Large initial capitals and similar doodads are fine, but are usually just too much trouble.
We prefer footnotes, if necessary, to be at the bottom of the page which refers to them, not at the end of the story or article.
We make a major effort to balance the columns on facing pages, and to keep the lines of text lined up between pages. This means we avoid typography which would cause a chunk of text to occupy anything other than an integral multiple of the body text line height.
Copyediting: Frequently a NESFA Press book will be assembled from disparate sources after the author's death. When we're lucky, we have multiple texts to work from or know of a text which claims to have been revised by the author. Nevertheless, errors creep in. Our policy is to edit with a light hand, correcting obvious errors, and using the author's preferred text if that can be discerned. Whatever we do, we try to avoid oddities in the text which will cause the reader's eye to slam to a halt.
Blank lines are used in a story to indicate a change of scene or a jump in time. Many magazines put blank lines in more-or-less arbitrarily, so plan on making changes. This is most definitely an area where the editor should expect to exercise judgment and to make changes. Do not assume that the author had anything to do with any scene-change typography in any printed version. Look at it, understand it, and change it as appropriate.
In general, everything else to the contrary not withstanding, if an author has a consistent style and knows what he is doing, we had best not mess with it. (E.g., you don't want to add a lot of commas to a Malzberg text.)