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Handbook to Guide Writing (Dictum_Mortuum)

Clockwerk66

First Post
Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


Handbook to Guide Writing




Index:






Have you ever wondered why some guides look more appealing to read than others? You need to add some features to your guide to make it look better? In this handbook i'll try to answer basic questions concerning text layout and parts your guide should have, so that it attains at least above average quality. I'm not suggesting that solely by reading this you will become more capable to write a guide, but it will give you some notes to consider.


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:



  • Bold: Bolds are used to emphasize certain items in your guide. Also it is handy when you list lots of items, to make the name stand out (whether it is spell, feat, class, etc). I personally use them to:
    • Make the items of a list stand out.

    • Separate sections in the guide.


  • Italic: Useful when you want to give emphasis on items and referring to names in a guide. If in a large body of text you refer to a feat (especially those with long names) it is better to give emphasis to these names so that the reader won't be confused.

  • Underline: Another way to give emphasis to text. I like to use it especially when i am using notes on a subject.

  • Fonts: Change the font of your text. I wouldn't suggest changing fonts a lot in your guide, mainly because it is tiring to the reader's eye. If you want you can change your whole guide's fonts to something to your liking.

  • Font Color: This is a very nice feature. Change the color of the name of a class feature, feat, etc, to actually provide information for it, but in a smart way. You can rank items as or good or use your own colors. That way a reader can actually identify if something is worth looking at or not and choose the right features in case he is in a hurry.

  • Font Size: Useful to separate sections in your guide, headlines etc. It's important to use bigger fonts for headlines, so that a reader can easily find a section in which he is interested in. As an example, a list of the different font sizes are presented here:
    • Size 1

    • Size 2

    • Size 3

    • Size 4

    • Size 5

    • Size 6

    • Size 7


  • Text Alignment: This way you can align text left, right or center. I actually use it for aesthetic reasons to align to the center the title and index of my guide.

  • Lists: When you are going to talk a lot about feats, features and abilities, you can use this feature to sort them all in a handy list, more appealing to the eye of the reader. If you are using the advanced reply, select the text you want to make into a list, and press the list button. Alternatively you can wrap text in [ LIST] [ *]item 1 [ *]item 2 ... [ *]item n [ /LIST] quotes. One minor detail: When using the list feature and then writing text under it, it will leave by default a line change. So if you leave a blank line, people will actually see two blank lines in the guide.

  • Images: This is a nice addition for any guide, but don't over do it. I use one big image that represents a figure of the class the guide provides information for. In the actual guide, don't use large images, it will be tiring for the reader to scroll down constantly.

  • Code Blocks: Use this for builds or if you want to auto align text providing information.

  • Sblocks: This feature is used when you want to create a "box" with a show/hide button. To use them you can wrap text around [ SBLOCK] ... [ /SBLOCK] tags. If you want to provide a tag to your sblock you can add the "=TAG" to the [ SBLOCK] quote (specifically [ SBLOCK="title"]).

  • Links: If specific information is somewhere online, provide a link to the thread or site.



Tricks:


If you need to use a picture in your guide, there are image host sites to which you can upload them. The most common choices are http://www.imageshack.us/ and http://photobucket.com/.


Also if you have a signature, try not to use it in the guides posts. To disable your signature just uncheck the "show your signature" button as seen in the picture:




Especially if you have a big signature this is imperative, as it will be confusing and frustrating for readers.


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


Choose a Class:


You need to remember that you won't be writing your guide out of obligation. You do it because you especially like a class and you think it is fun. Don't write a guide about a class you don't like, the end result will be bad.


First of all choose a class. You are not of course limited to classes that don't have guides for them, but be sure to provide a different approach. Remember that making guides for classes from player's handbook is very difficult, because nearly every new book will have new information for them.


Also you aren't limited only to base classes. The possibilities are endless: prestige classes, feats, skills, items.


Guide Sections:


I consider the following essential to any guide regarding classes:



  • Attributes/Races: Present the important stats for your class and the races most suitable to be members of it.

  • Main Class Features: Present every class feature of your class. Provide more information/strategy for using the class's signature abilities.

  • Alternative Class Features: Lots of classes have alternative features, substitution levels and so on. They can really make a character better. Try to find all of them, provide information and rank them appropriately.

  • Feats: This is a tricky one. It is very difficult to list all of the feats from all those books and splat books. List the feats that have the most synergy with your chosen class. Provide a section with feats chosen regularly but aren't actually good.

  • Skill/Skill Tricks: List the class skills and try to define which skills are worth taking and which aren't. Provide a list of skill tricks that come handy.

  • Spells: In case your class can cast spells, try to list the best spells you can use.

  • Equipment: Nearly all classes have weaknesses. They can however be overcome with a decent selection of equipment. In my guides i use equipment mainly from the DMG and the MIC, but also mention specific items from other books that are exceptionally good.

  • Multi classing: Here you can talk about base classes dips and about acquiring prestige classes.

  • Builds: A space to create sample builds. They don't need to be heavily optimized, just to show people how a class evolves. Try to make builds that range with information taken from a few books to many or campaign specific ones. In any case provide the item used and the book it is contained in.





Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


This is a sample template for a guide, i usually use them in my own:


Index:
[sblock]

Handbook





Index:


link1
link2
link3


*TEXT*


[/sblock]Other Sections:
[sblock]
Headline 1


*TEXT*



  • List 1 item: Explanation.

  • Bad list 1 item: Explanation.

  • Good list 1 item: Explanation.

  • Extremely good list 1 item: Explanation.




Headline 2


*TEXT*

  • List 2 item: Explanation.

  • Bad list 2 item: Explanation.

  • Good list 2 item: Explanation.

  • Extremely good list 2 item: Explanation.




[/sblock]


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


I hope this information will help people writing a guide and with their own, personal style as it isn't as difficult as it sounds. I also hope that this will help people write quality guides. That way through discussion new builds and ideas will be generated.


Originally posted by drobviousso:


Something that could be absolutely valuable to future authors would be a template. Do you write all your's from scratch, or do you have a template you work from?


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


Something that could be absolutely valuable to future authors would be a template. Do you write all your's from scratch, or do you have a template you work from?
nice idea. My guides are pretty simple actually, so i write them from scratch using the same guidelines.


Originally posted by cannibalsmith:


I think that we should post all guides in the CharOp wiki (whose address I forget) and post only links to them here. That would solve the ugly problem of many half-written, badly written, and outdated guides as anyone could edit them and correct any mistakes. That would also prevent old guides from losing all formatting as they are now upon being archived.


Originally posted by wolfie-kun:


Perhaps using [noparse][/noparse] tags would make formatting clearer? (The tags just make the BBCode visible and make it do nothing.)


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


Perhaps using [noparse][/noparse] tags would make formatting clearer? (The tags just make the BBCode visible and make it do nothing.)
yes thanks, now i can add the tags of each text format.


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


updated.
added a template and several other information.


Originally posted by phoenixinferno:


Well, when I need to make a vB code reference, I usually check this link first.


Originally posted by antarx:


Can I ask help to format this handbook?


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


bump!
what's the period of inactivity before a thread is archived?


Originally posted by llochlyn:


A point about fonts : if you have a lot of text, you might want to work with a serif font, like the Garamond, or the Times New Roman, so the reading is actually easier.


Not quite sure it really applies to screen, but serif fonts are way easier to read...


Yeah, after searching, it appears I'm wrong.


arial
[sblock]Sans-serif fonts are those fonts that have no "serifs": the little hooks on the end of the letters. If you've taken any print design courses you've probably been told that you should only use sans-serif for headlines. This is not true for the Web. Web pages are intended to be viewed by Web browsers on computer monitors. And computer monitors don't have as good of resolution as paper. This means that when your readers view a page of serif font on the screen, the little serifs all blur together and start making the text harder to read.


Always use sans-serif fonts for your Web page main copy.
[/sblock]


Times
[sblock]Sans-serif fonts are those fonts that have no "serifs": the little hooks on the end of the letters. If you've taken any print design courses you've probably been told that you should only use sans-serif for headlines. This is not true for the Web. Web pages are intended to be viewed by Web browsers on computer monitors. And computer monitors don't have as good of resolution as paper. This means that when your readers view a page of serif font on the screen, the little serifs all blur together and start making the text harder to read.


Always use sans-serif fonts for your Web page main copy
.[/sblock]


Garamond
[sblock]Sans-serif fonts are those fonts that have no "serifs": the little hooks on the end of the letters. If you've taken any print design courses you've probably been told that you should only use sans-serif for headlines. This is not true for the Web. Web pages are intended to be viewed by Web browsers on computer monitors. And computer monitors don't have as good of resolution as paper. This means that when your readers view a page of serif font on the screen, the little serifs all blur together and start making the text harder to read.


Always use sans-serif fonts for your Web page main copy.

[/sblock]


There. Use sans-serif, he said. The default font is actually quite good


Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:





Originally posted by cannibalsmith:


What the hell happened to our optimal color scheme!!


Originally posted by carnivore:


bump to save





Originally posted by waazraath:


The handbook handbook.... bloody hell



Originally posted by Dictum_Mortuum:


Bump!


Originally posted by Litania84it:


Can you give instructions on how to change font color?




Originally posted by iadawn:




Dictum_Mortuum wrote:
  • Font Color: This is a very nice feature. Change the color of the name of a class feature, feat, etc, to actually provide information for it, but in a smart way. You can rank items as bad or good or use your own colors. That way a reader can actually identify if something is worth looking at or not and choose the right features in case he is in a hurry.
Late in the day but it is worth bearing in mind that there are many people who have difficulty distinguishing between color, and others who might not be able to recall what one colour or other means. It is good to use something as well as colour that can help in this. For example,

*
**
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****
*****

Iadawn
 

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