What is typesetting, and why is it important 

What is typesetting, and why is it important 

In this article, we cover another stage of the manuscript production process called typesetting. Typesetting is the process that follows copy editing and turns a paper into its final version, ready for printing and online publication.

To read about the other steps in the publishing process click on the links below:

  1. language editing
  2. copyediting
  3. typesetting (known also as technical editing)
  4. proofreading
  5. XML publication (academic publishing only).

What exactly is typesetting?

Typesetting transforms an edited and accepted manuscript into a near-final product. The word typesetting comes from the original process of physical printing. Originally, moveable letters, numbers, and symbols (type) were put in place (set) by hand, making pages ready for print. Nowadays, typesetters use digital layout software, such as InDesign and LateX to arrange text. However the typesetting method has changed over time, the principles of the process have stayed the same.

Content design

Before any publication is printed or published online, design choices are made about how the type and any other elements will look on the page and on screen. As an author, you may decide for yourself on many of these choices, while some of the other ones might be imposed by the publisher or printing house.

These design choices typically include:

  • the dimensions of pages and margins
  • font choice and sizes
  • spacing
  • details of headers and footers
  • look at other components such as quotes, tables, charts, hyperlinks, references, and bibliography.

Once the decision regarding the visual arrangement is made, the typesetter may start applying the layout to the document. While composing, additional text alterations, such as the ones listed below, often become necessary:

  • adjusting the spacing between characters
  • ensuring that blocks of text on adjacent columns end on the same row
  • changes when consecutive rows of text start or end with the same word
  • avoiding the last row of a paragraph ending at the top of a page
  • preventing the last word of a paragraph from ending on its own on a line.
Typesetting of a scientific book in inDesign software

Tools that typesetters work with

Typesetters use professional software to compose documents. There are many page layout designing programs available, but two play an especially important role in academic publishing:

  • InDesign – a leading page composing software, well-known for its advanced text setting features. InDesign is the most common selection for scientific papers, as they usually contain long passages of text and fewer graphics.
  • LaTeX – another tool widely used in the academic world. The program provides unique solutions for the setting of mathematical formulas and equations. LaTeX is the typesetter’s best choice when it comes to complex mathematical texts.

Before deciding on the software to work with, typesetters verify the characteristics of a given text to ensure the best match and final result.

Typesetting process of scientific articles at Sciendo

Professional typesetting service

If you are an academic author, you would most likely like your research to gain recognition, attract citations, and become widely read. A document that looks neat and polished has more chances to achieve that, so it might be advisable to work with a professional typesetter. Before making the decision, investigate what options and services your preferred academic publisher provides.

Why work with a professional typesetting service?

  • Experience – qualified typesetters have the know-how required to set pages most appropriately. They also take into account different text features such as the length or subject matter when selecting the software to work with. 
  • Enhanced reading – a professionally composed text is easier to read, follow and understand.
  • Professional look – a great-looking document conveys a sense of professionalism and quality, which reflects positively on its author.
  • Quality control – academic texts often contain graphs and equations which makes them more difficult to typeset. Publishers specialising in scientific content will ensure that your text is error-free and looks its best at the same time.
  • Expert knowledge – every industry has its specifics. Academic typesetters will guide you through issues such as the placement of ORCID or ISBN numbers, correct affiliation details, copyright notes, etc.

Print versus online version

Typesetting is important for all types of publications but becomes particularly significant if you prepare your manuscript for print. The print has its own requirements and set of rules that one needs to follow. You need to verify if your table of contents is accurate and if the figures and tables are listed in order, and also pay attention to bleeds and cut marks. If you plan on releasing a book, you must also remember to prepare the cover and spine correctly, and place ISBN numbers in the appropriate places.

Adjusting the document for print requires knowledge and practice, hence it is worth placing it into expert hands. A professionally typeset document will have a neater, more polished appearance once printed.

High-quality typesetting matters because content must look good to make an impact. It can give your work an edge over other submissions and also make a difference in how your text is received by potential readers, reviewers, and editors.

Typesetting services at Sciendo

Sciendo collaborates with experienced typesetters specializing in academic content, whose skill and judgment ensure the top-quality look of the finished product. We can work either with your unique design or according to our standard layout.

By principle, when typesetting we work with journal editors and book authors directly. For those journals that prefer to leave this matter to the publisher, we offer the possibility to take over the contact with authors. In the latter case, editors verify the final typeset version acknowledging its readiness for an online publication.

To find out more about how we can help to enhance your publication, please fill in the contact form.

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