Manuscripts never reach the press free of all spelling, grammar, format and fact errors. Many long and meticulous hours go into turning a manuscript into the paperback or hardcover book readers pick up on the shelves. Factual inaccuracies or spelling errors reflect poorly on the press, the author and the credibility of his or her research.

The press has particular ways that it wants authors to format their manuscripts, which are outlined in the Manuscript Preparation Guidelines for Authors handout. The guidelines are in place to simplify the work of the department, but excessive formatting can make a file even more difficult to work with; therefore, if an author is in doubt of how to format a certain thing, the author should avoid formatting and instead just type.

The editorial department looks at a complete manuscript as three parts: the front matter, the main text body and the back matter. Editors are responsible for cleaning up each part and fixing anything the author missed after going through the guidelines. Editors consult Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., and Webster's Third New International Dicitonary for questions on spelling, punctuation and hyphenation. For questions concerning editorial styles, the editors consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., especially when it comes to documenting sources in the footnotes and bibliography.

For authors and even potential editors, the department suggests The Elements of Style, 3rd ed., by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White as a great source of information on grammar and style.

The press, along with many other publishing houses in the nation, design books by using a book-design computer program. The program uses a set of letters or symbols, called codes, which can be inserted into the text to give designers instructions on how the book should look. The following are some examples of the codes editors use:

Elements in the manuscript other than regular text, such as figures and tables, must be saved separately from the main text and added later. The placement of these elements is determined by "callouts" in the text, such as {fig. 11.1 here}.

After the manuscripts have been coded, they are sent off to the typesetters to be tested on the page. The editors get the manuscripts back, sometimes three to four times, to verify that the typesetters made the necessary changes.