Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Book Layout: How would you format long speeches / sermons?
September 2, 2014 9:07 AM   Subscribe

I'm currently working on converting a religious book from its traditional verse-by-verse format into a verse-less, continuous edition. The book has many, many sermons and lectures. I'm at a loss for how to format them in a way which distinguishes them from the narrative, but isn't too detached from the surrounding text.

In almost all cases, the sermons begin at the start of a chapter. What I've tried so far is to put the chapter's opening lines (example: "Mary sits down before the crowd and begins to speak.") in italics, then a blank line, and then start the sermon. I've also tried using my font's small caps face for the opening lines.

These two options are my favorites so far, but the lead-in to the sermons doesn't always have a simple opening. Sometimes there's several paragraphs of action and dialogue before the multi-page sermon starts. Sometimes, the sermon begins this way: "Oh Lord," Joseph says, "Bless this cat, bless this bat...", and there's no way to separate the speaker out of the sermon's opening without rearranging the sentence.

I've thought about indenting both sides of the sermon, but this seems like a waste of space when the sermon goes on for multiple pages and, occasionally, even multiple chapters. And then I've also tried putting quotation marks around the whole thing with opening quotes per paragraph. Even though this is grammatically correct, it still doesn't look quite right. I've tried the small caps face and italics for the sermon content itself, but this seemed too distracting.

Any ideas? My main goal is consistency in how the sermons are presented, but the various edge cases are making this difficult.
posted by honestcoyote to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Could you use some kind of ornamental flourish before and after each sermon to set them apart?
posted by trip and a half at 9:22 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


honestcoyote: "These two options are my favorites so far, but the lead-in to the sermons doesn't always have a simple opening. Sometimes there's several paragraphs of action and dialogue before the multi-page sermon starts. Sometimes, the sermon begins this way: "Oh Lord," Joseph says, "Bless this cat, bless this bat...", and there's no way to separate the speaker out of the sermon's opening without rearranging the sentence."

Can you edit the text judiciously so that the sermons have a more uniform introduction? You could add chapter breaks and move or eliminate attributing text. Obviously, this depends a great deal on the work in question and the appropriateness within your religious tradition of editing it.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:23 AM on September 2


Slight indentation of the sermon text? Change of font?
posted by kindall at 9:52 AM on September 2


Just to clarify, I'm not a member of this religion. This is just a fun, unpaid project for me. My main intention is to make a more readable, user-friendly version for both secular and believing readers but it needed to be faithful (in content if not layout) to the original. Rearranging isn't an option. I deeply wish it was.
posted by honestcoyote at 10:40 AM on September 2


Turn it into a comic book so you can tell who's speaking.

OK, this probably isn't an option. Do you have to be so consistent about how they're presented? Can you instead emphasize key parts, such as who is speaking and significant first lines that begin a new section?
posted by chickenmagazine at 11:36 AM on September 2


A contrasting font is probably the best choice. A serif vs. a sans serif font, for example. Even a bold vs. non-bold would make a big difference.
posted by terp at 4:48 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I think I found a decent and subtle solution.

I changed my font to Caslon. It has a similar look to my previous font (I wanted something which would have been available to the original 1830 printer), and has the advantage of semi-bold faces, which the other font did not. All the bolds I tried were too discordant with the rest of the text but the semi-bold is just right.

So now, I'm putting the sermons into semi-bold and making the tracking a bit looser for them. This is noticeably different but it's a mostly subtle difference. Plus, for secular readers, the sermons are sometimes a cure for insomnia, so this might help in making them easier to read and follow.

I'm also still thinking about the ornamental flourishes. That just sounds fun.

If anyone's still reading this and thinks this solution is a terrible idea, please let me know. I'm still just an amateur at typography.

Thanks for the help.
posted by honestcoyote at 10:01 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


« Older What are the best mods for Mas...   |  Would like some AskMe advice o... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments