Manuscript Development

A feature is a learning aid consistently built into each chapter of your book. A feature can consist of anything from a chapter outline or summary, to "boxed" material or activities. A well-developed set of features can help both sell your book and make it a superior learning tool.

Analyze the competing books to see what types of features they include. Are they useful or just "fluff?" Do you need to include similar features to ensure marketability? If so, how can you improve upon what has been done before? What new features would help students learn the material, maintain their high interest level, or make the material more relevant?

Once you've established your list of features, hone it carefully. Too many features will confuse the reader and the sales staff, and make it difficult (if not impossible) to develop an appropriate design. Consult with your editor before finalizing your feature plan.

Give your features a name where appropriate. Titles like "Point/Counterpoint" or "Back to the Case" clearly define the feature and make the book easier to sell.

Feature Ideas

  • Chapter-opening material
    • Vignettes & Cases
    • Chapter Organizers (Concept Maps, Outlines, Lists of Objectives)

  • In-chapter material
    • "Boxes" (research, controversies, in the news, cases)
    • Lists (of steps, materials, etc.)
    • Marginalia (margin notes to students, icons)

  • End-of-chapter material
    • Summaries (bullet point or prose)
    • Problems
    • Questions
    • Activities
    • Bibliographies

  • Appendices & Other End-of-Book Material
    • Glossary
    • Bibliography
    • Author Index
    • Subject Index

Feature Overload

In a heavily illustrated book, it is virtually impossible to ensure the placement of "boxed" material in exactly the place you wish it to be. To avoid surprises during the design and paging process, you need to carefully plan your illustration and feature program.

Hints for Good Features

  • If it is crucial to the text that the box appear with the material you've just discussed, make a note to your editor of that fact. We can design it as a "flow-through" box to interrupt the text flow as little as possible.

  • If a box is able to stand alone, note in your manuscript approximately where it should occur, but be aware that it may float a bit (within a page or so) to ensure good page layout. With this type of box, you may want to refer to it by title. For example, "In this chapter's 'Teachers on Teaching' box, a practicing teacher discusses how cooperative learning works in her classroom."

  • Do not use such phrases as "in the box below" when referring to boxes. Paging considerations may not allow it to be placed "below."

  • Many books include features like lists of steps or lists of materials. If this is a consistent feature in every chapter, you may want to consider giving it a name and making it a special "boxed" feature.

When preparing your manuscript, think through your chapter structure and organize your material into logical segments. A detailed outline is an excellent way to begin.

Keep your headings as brief as possible. A reader should be able to glance through them and see immediately how the whole text is structured. An organizational structure with more than three levels of headings under the chapter title is probably too complex for the average reader to follow. Consult with your editor.

Format for Chapter Headings

Headings and subheadings should be typed uniformly throughout the manuscript. We prefer the following styles to show the value of each heading:


Secondary Headings ("B" heads)

Third-Level Headings ("C" heads)

Illustrations should be used to clarify the text to the reader. Art and Photo Specifications provide further instruction.

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