I've seen numerous made for e-Sword and other Bible software packages that would receive an F if turned into a college professor for formatting alone. This post cannot possibly anticipate every bad formatting decision. I do attempt to point out the most common situations that arise.
But there is no substitute for "common sense" formatting. What do I mean by common sense? Example: I can tell you not to walk across the street when traffic is coming. But I can't anticipate every other situation that may arise that you should not do. You have to use common sense, right? Of course, that's apart of life.
The same applies to formatting. I can give examples, but I can't anticipate every single possibility that "looks bad". Learn to see what "looks bad" so you can strive for what "looks good". Learn what common sense formatting looks like.
But, But, This Takes Time!
Yes dear friend, GOOD module making DOES take time and is rarely done in a day. There are exceptions, but they are rare. Right now, for example, I'm spending quite a few extra hours on a resource to make it more usable in e-Sword, and to make the formatting easy to read. I know if I don't make these structural changes, people will not use it.
That's why making publishable quality e-Sword module is not for everyone. It requires time, patience, and persistence. Increasingly, I just dislike modules that have been "sloppily made".
But I just want to copy/paste and be done!
(I don't want to tooltip text. I don't want to convert roman numeral verse references to digits. I don't want to take time to proofread or proofscan....) Then, e-Sword module making is not for you. Poorly formatted e-Sword modules reflect poorly on e-Sword and BibleSupport.com. And poorly formatted text yields precious few users. If no one uses the text, then what have you accomplished? A digit increase on our upload numbers? That's not why we're dong this...
No one wants to read a module with...
Text taken directly from an OCR provider should be cleaned. Seriously, no one wants to read:
HOAV GREAT IS <3©H> COMPARED WITH %3RTAL MAN.
- Delete page headers/footers and page numbers that interfere with the text in e-Sword.
- Correct spelling issues.
- Remove odd line breaks. Notice how distracting it is if I, in mid sentence, just
- switch to the next line for no reason. Text Flow should be consistent across monitor sizes and resolutions -- If you use manual line breaks, it may look great on your monitor--but no one elses!
Create space between paragraphs.
EXAMPLE: Which screenshot below do you think is easier to read?
good space.png 66.17K 30 downloads
bad space.png 64.8K 18 downloads
If you picked the last screenshot, please re-think your decision to make e-Sword modules.
EXAMPLE: Similarly, does this look good? Notice that some paragraphs have too much space. Others have less. It's inconsistent. There's too many line breaks for some paragraphs. This doesn't look good.
inconsistent spacing.png 56.25K 13 downloads
Poor Line Spacing
Line spacing should be set (in T3 or Microsoft Word) to 1 - 1.15.
EXAMPLE: Does line spacing look good when it's too cramped?
bad line spacing.png 63.77K 8 downloads
EXAMPLE: Does line spacing look good when it's too spread?
bad line spacing2.png 31.3K 6 downloads
Inconsistent Font Sizes or Font Sizes too small or large
This is annoying. If the reader wants to enlarge the text control, they can. You need not make resources with font size problems, as most of our readers do not have vision problems. Those that do can enlarge the text control within e-Sword.
font too large.png 51.05K 8 downloads
EXAMPLE: This is equally annoying:
inconsistent fonts.png 50.61K 8 downloads
You Must ToolTip Scripture References and Strongs Numbers.
Remember, e-Sword didn't invent the electronic document. People can read text on the Internet, in Kindles, in printed books, and numerous other places offline and online. They don't have to use e-Sword. And they won't use e-Sword if you don't tooltip scripture references!
Topic files that are not tooltipped have zero use for many people. Why? If they have lookup a verse reference manually, what's the point of using e-Sword? You might as well read the material on Kindle for the PC. Or in your internet browser.
Commentaries and dictionaries still have value if they aren't tooltipped. But Brent Hildebrand has made tooltipping so easy, there's no excuse for not tooltipping your scripture references.
But Brent and Tooltip can't help you if you didn't bother to convert roman numeral scripture references to digits. We have macros for that, but in some cases, you will still need to convert some references manually.
Strong's Numbers, at an absolute minimum, should have an H or G preceding the number. If you wanted to go the "extra mile" format that number with the Tooltip color and underline it, so users know they can click it and see the definition in the dictionary window.
For topics, e-Sword uses the module maker's font choice. You should use Georgia (size 11 or 12--I prefer 11) or Times New Roman (size 12). Based on the way e-Sword renders text, this is seems to appeal to the broadest audience. The text size is consistent with official e-Sword modules. Headings and such can be slightly larger.
Commentaries, Dictionaries, Bibles, Devotionals, etc
For most commentaries, dictionaries, Bibles, devotionals, etc, e-Sword will override your font choice and size with the user's e-Sword selected font.
- Please avoid constructing Bibles in a way that overrides the user's e-Sword selected font size. If you specify a font size in the RTF code for Bible text, the text will likely appear larger or smaller than the other Bible text for any given e-Sword user. Let e-Sword decide the size of the text for Bibles. Not doing so creates a poor experience for the end-user and your material is less likely to be used.
- For all other resources, if you override the font, please use a reasonable font like Georgia or Times New Roman. Please use a reasonable font size of 10-12 (I prefer 11 for Georgia and 12 for Times New Roman). Please avoid overly large font sizes--it's annoying for the end-user and your resource is less likely to be used.
I opened a devotional recently and the font size was so large, the resource was just unusable. The end user does not want to, and should not have to, resize the text control because your text does not conform to the rest of their e-Sword resources.
While I strongly urge you to create resources that respect the original layout and style of the original printed resource, sometimes changes are simply necessary.
- Printed resources may have sacrificed vertical white space (paragraph and line spacing) to make publishing affordable. You are under no such constraints. Add line breaks and create white space as necessary to make the resource usable and readable. Bold headings if necessary. Don't be afraid to search replace a style/repetition of text to make it bold or a different color for easier reading--if it looks good. (Compare the Lange's test module with the website text, in this post for an example.
- Restructure a resource if necessary. I urge caution here--we don't want to change the author's meaning or intent. But on occasion, this can be necessary. For example, the project I am currently working on--the printed edition should have been published all together. But it wasn't--it was published as it was written. When you attempt to combine 12 volumes in the exact organizational structure originally used in the printed edition, it does not work well in e-Sword. In this case, to make finding material easier, I am combining like sections in each volume (having 1 Expository Outlines for the OT section instead of 12 different ones). And in other sections, I'm reorganizing some material according to the Biblical canon order (instead of a random order or the order of publication). This way, readers can find what they're looking for easier. Use good sense here. Don't change the meaning.
I have a macro that converts end of the page footnotes to in-line footnotes, commonly found in Microsoft Word documents. Do something with footnotes. Make them in-line. Put them at the end of each section. Put them at the end of each paragraph where used.
Don't leave them a garbled mess in the original text. Think twice before just removing them entirely. Footnotes are valuable!
Ideally, Hebrew and Greek text should be in unicode format. That means, for every character displayed on screen, the RTF text contains the unicode equivalent. Many times, when you paste Greek or Hebrew text from other sources, the unicode is present in the RTF code. If you use Tooltip3's Greek keyboard (or a third party Greek or Hebrew keyboard that supports unicode), you can simply copy/paste the Greek and Hebrew symbols into the text. The proper unicode copied, behind the scenes, into the RTF code. NOTE: T3's keyboard does not support Greek vowel accents and so I do not sure it.
Greek/Hebrew Font Choice in T3
When using Tooltip, Greek and Hebrew should be changed to the font: TITUS Cyberbit Basic, the text enlarged to font size 12-14, and the text colored blue (RGB - Red: 0, Green: 0, Blue: 255). This is essentially Rick Meyers' standard he uses for his modules.
The blue font color is purely for aesthetic reasons. But It helps break up the text and it helps the reader immediately recognize the foreign language. I highly recommend it and doing so can almost always be automated if your preparing the module in Microsoft Word.
Making Final Adjustments to Greek/Hebrew using T4 - Commentaries & Dictionaries, NOT Topics.
ToolTip NT includes the ability to make Hebrew and Greek unicode characters display properly in e-Sword. Click Tools > Greek Unicode Fixup and Click Tools > Hebrew Unicode Fixup
Another example of formatting do's and don'ts. Which looks better?
formatting-dont.png 61.37K 14 downloads
formatting-do.png 42.16K 9 downloads
Use Modern Tools
Would you write a sermon, or a term paper, or a speech, with a typewriter? You could. But would you? Would you ride horse and buggy on a 300 mile trip? You could. But would you?
If you need my assistance (which I'm more than happy to give you), please use modern tools. I've had to correct the course of a few would-be module makers who read on the forums how others code RTF by hand and manually edit databases. It's not necessary and consumes too much time in most cases.
Please use a word processor and Tooltip 4 (or some other module creation tool). It saves tremendous time. And it enables me to help you. I can't teach you the syntax for RTF easily and it's unnecessary.
Look at people who produce the best modules for e-Sword. What do they use? When taking advice from other people on module making, filter that advice by asking yourself: what modules have they uploaded? Productive module makers use productive tools and that helps me help you!
I will personally tutor or mentor anyone who needs help! I do so all the time. Don't be afraid to ask for help! Remember: a Microsoft Word macro can do the work of many man hours in seconds!
ToolTip 4 Download Link: http://www.biblesupp...ooltip-tool-nt/