At this point, you have been exposed to all of the contractions and their rules for proper use! In this session, we wish to briefly explore some of the guidelines and rules for formatting braille documents. As this is not intended to be a course to prepare braille transcribers, but to prepare educators of the visually-impaired to work with their students on braille literacy issues, we have pick some very specific yet limited formatting topics! The full-package of braille education materials being developed under the Department of Education grant will have a specific course designed to help train braille transcribers.
The "bible" of braille formatting is the Code of Braille Textbook Formats and Techniques (1977), available from the American Printing House for the Blind.
Before getting into some of the specifics, some general rules and guidelines for preparing braille documents are offered. Typically, braille materials are prepared using standard braille paper, of size 11 x 11-1/2 inches. A variety of line lengths are used, depending on the material and the audience. A standard braille line is 40 cells in length, with 25 lines of braille per page. All lines are counted from the top of the page, regardless of whether or not they contain braille.
If you are using a Perkins brailler, you should set your left margin to begin in cell 2, and the right margin to end in cell 41. One way to do this is as follows:
- Set the left and right margin guides to the far left and far right, respectively
- Type some cell, such as dots 1-2-3-4-5-6, across the entire length of the page.
- Set your margin guides so that the typing head stops at the Cell 2 on the left and Cell 41 on the right
If you are using a slate and stylus, you will use all of the cells of the metal guide.
There are some grade-level considerations in preparing materials. Some suggested guidelines from the Code of Formats are as follows:
- All materials for first grade should be brailled on a page no larger than 11 x 9 inches, with the braille embossed across the 11 inch margin of the page. Each braille line should be preceded by a blank line. If print interlining of the braille material is required, the print should appear word-for-word above the braille line.
- Materials for grades 2 and above should be brailled on a 25-line page, using standard margins, with single-line spacing.
- The size of the braille volume (more of an issue for transcribers!) should contain no more than 50 one-sided pages for grades 1 through 3. For early grades, no words should be divided between syllables at the ends of lines. 90 pages is a standard volume size for books for other grade levels, although some consider 70 pages to be a standard volume size for books above the third grade.
Typically, appendices, glossaries, indexes, and other materials are bound as separate volumes.
Page numbering is important for all brailled materials, whether or not they are bound as a textbook. Except for a title page, every braille page must have a page number. Pages that preceed the main body of the document, such as title pages, prefaces, dedications, table of contents, etc., should be numbered using a Roman numeral. Roman numerals are formed with the appropriate letter preceded by a letter sign, as in the Roman numeral "x":
Page numbers should be placed at the far right margin, with no less than three cells between the page number and the page header. Erasures, never good, are particularly bad on page numbers. Caution should be taken to ensure that you have numbered pages correctly to help your reader avoid confusion.
Unless you are involved in the transcribing process, you may not need or want to create title pages or deal with "extraneous" parts of the text, such as dedications, prefaces, and tables of content. In all likelihood, the "nature of the beast" for the classroom teacher is going to be short sections of a larger text or other smaller brailling tasks. At the very least, these documents should contain two formatting objects: page numbers, discussed above, and a running head or text title. The purpose of the running head is to help the reader to identify the title or name of the document. The running head for the work you have been asked to do to date might be "Braille Work for Session 8"; if you are doing a section of a textbook, your running head might be "Codebook of Formatting Techniques". The rules for use of running heads are as follows:
- The running head should appear on the first line of each braille page
- The running head should not occupy more than one braille line
- The running head should be written in double capitals and centered on the line
- The running head should be shortened so that there are at least three (3) blank cells before the running head and at least three (3) blank cells before the page number
- One blank line should be left between the running head and a heading which follows, such as a chapter heading.
- No blank lines should be left between a running head and the continuation of text.
Tables of Contents
There are numerous rules and guidelines for transcribing contents pages, depending on the various types of formats found in these tables. General rules for Tables of Content are provided here. A sample Table, showing a typical textbook format, is provided for your reference.
Some guidelines for brailling a Table of Contents:
- The word "CONTENTS" in double caps should be centered on the first line, or on the third line if a running head is used.
- Braille the word "Page" at the end of the second or fourth line. You can also braille the word "Chapter" or "Lesson" or other appropriate word at the beginning of the same line.
- Brailling the body of the contents
- Main headings start at the margin. Runovers go to Cell 3 if there are only main headings. If there are main headings and subheadings, start at the left margin with runovers in Cell 5. Subheadings start in Cell 3 with runovers in Cell 7. Sub-subheadings start in Cell 7 with runovers in Cell 9. Use this pattern as needed.
- Page numbers go at the end of the line where headings end. Use guide dots (Dot 5) preceded by and followed by a space, between the last word of the heading and the page number.
- Skip a line between main divisions, such as before the words Index, Appendix, etc.
You should note that there are differences in the Table of Contents for the entire book, which are typically brailled in Volume I of the braille series, and the Table of Contents for each individual volume. It is assumed in this reading that you are not serving in the role of a transcriber preparing an entire textbook; rather, this reading assumes you are a classroom teacher preparing a one-volume document of less than 90 pages.