Enchanted manuscript?

The publisher has sent on the proofs of my gongfu book. For those of you unfamiliar with publishing, the proofs are a preview of what the final product will look like on the page. This is an opportunity to discuss formatting and to elimate the little errors that are hard to catch, such as punctuation. One odd issue has cropped up, however.

There’s a chapter in the book entitled ‘Time is Short’. It’s called that because it’s a saying among the practitioners of our lineage: Lim Hian used to say it to Chee Kim Thong, who used to say it to Chan See-meng, who says it to me. It means carpe diem, train hard, learn well. I lived in Singapore for only two years; I had to apply myself under pressure of time.

Aside from the chapter-heading, the phrase ‘time is short’ occurs several times in the text. When I was writing the book, the phrase kept coming out in bold. I didn’t know why. I would go back and turn it off: in MS Word you select the text and click the B icon to take off (unembolden?) the effect. Or, select text and click ‘Normal’ from the options in the formatting bar to reset the text. But every time I would go back, or convert to PDF, I’d find that the phrase ‘time is short’ was in bold again. Staring out at me: time is short.

Before submitting the final text to the publisher, I did the same yet again. I ensured that ‘time is short’ looked just like it does in this sentence: the same as the other text. But the proofs have come back with ‘time is short’ given special emphasis, converted to italics in typesetting: time is short. So I’ve decided to leave it. There’s probably some banal explanation that eludes me for now – or some power wants ‘time is short’ to have special attention.

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