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a guide to basic story-management
updated as at February 2010
This document is intended to assist Fanfiction.net authors to edit their work and find their way around the peculiarities of Ffn's text-handling without encountering too many nasty surprises. It includes a selection of attractive section breaks which will display correctly and can be used to break up your text.
A great many Ffn writers do seem to have trouble with the editing system. If you find the advice or the section break designs on this page useful, please consider including a plug for it in your author's notes, so other beleaguered authors can find it. Any link which may be included will of course have to be written in a form which Ffn will display, such as www. whitehound. co. uk/Fanfic/Ffn_how-to. htm (note spaces after all the dots).
Note that every time Ffn does another upgrade (usually about twice a year), various aspects of these instructions may suddenly become obsolete. It takes some weeks to update this page after each upgrade, so check the date above.
N.B.: Left-clicking on any of the letters and symbols shown in the character-tables will take you to that character's entry on the Character Codes page. There you will find the character's full name, and lists of HTML codes and Ffn formatting issues associated with it.
Characters shown in the character-tables on a solid-coloured ground require Unicode fonts in order to display correctly in Word, and may also fail to display correctly on this webpage if you do not have a suitable font on your PC/Mac. If you see a character replaced by a placeholder square, right-click on the affected character to open a popup window containing a .gif picture of how it should look. [The Windows context-menu which normally appears when you right click on something has been disabled for this page, in order to enable this feature to work.]
You can also left-click on star-shaped buttons next to the section breaks in order to open a small window containing the HTML code for each design, ready for you to copy. Note you will need to have Popups enabled to use either this or the character-viewing facility.
From one of the general Fanfiction.net pages, click Sign Up at top-right. Choose a name and password and then follow the instructions.
It is possible to set up more than one Ffn ID, but each ID must use a separate email address. For example, I use the whitehound ID and the email address firstname.lastname@example.org for stories which I write solo, and the Borolin ID and the email address email@example.com for stories which I write in collaboration with Dyce.
Note that your permanent ID with Ffn is actually a number, not a name: for example, whitehound's number is 889650. This number stays with you, but you can change the name which is associated with the number. The first page you come to after you log in (see below) is called Account Settings, and one of those settings is called Pen Name. If you click on the Edit option next to Pen Name, you can change your user name. The name attached to all your pre-existing stories and reviews will be retroactively changed as well.
Beware of changing your Pen Name too often or casually, though. It is by your Pen Name that your readers will remember you, and by it that they will look for you in the Search facility. A name-change can lose you a lot of faithful readers.
From one of the general Fanfiction.net pages, click Login at top right. Fill in your e-mail address and password, check "Remember me for 3 days." unless you wish to be logged out at the end of this session, and click Login.
If you have already told Windows to remember this password, the password will be filled in for you automatically as soon as you enter your email address.
Once you have clicked Login you will be taken to the Account Settings page of your personal account pages, where you will see various options displayed along the top and left-hand side of the window. If you wish to log out again, click Logout at top left.
From this position, you have access to a wide range of pages used for administering your personal Ffn account and your stories, messages, favourites-list etc..
Documents to be uploaded can either be Story format, containing a story or chapter of a story ready to be displayed, or Docx format, which is used for exchanging files for beta editing. Docx is a format and file extension peculiar to advanced versions of Microsoft Word, and cannot be simply converted to story format because it is actually made up of several sub-files zipped together. Do not attempt to upload a .docx document as a story file. It can however display a wide range of text-formatting, such as different colours and styles of font, to make it easier to mark edits. Story-format files can only be in black text with the options left or centre-justified, regular text, underlined or italics. Any other fancy formatting will disappear.
Documents which contain the contents of a story or chapter of a story should be laid out in some clear format more or less as you wish it to appear on Ffn. All documents must have a file-size no larger than 9Mb, and if you are using a dial-up connection it is advisable to stay below 1Mb.
The document must be of one of the following types and file-extensions:
In all cases Ffn will (at least in theory) correctly reproduce basic formatting (centre- or left-justification, bold-face, italics and underlining), except for Plain Text which by definition doesn't have those anyway.
Only very basic HTML tags will be obeyed. According to Ffn's own documentation it will only accept the following tags:
In each case the tags can be entered in either upper or lower case, and the first-listed tag or pair of tags is generally the more modern, and is the one used by Ffn in its own HTML code. The alternative tags are obeyed if you use them, but you will find Ffn converts them into its own preferred versions.
It will however accept tags with extra instructions in them, and just ignore them - so <p align=justify> is treated just the same as <p> - and it will usually accept characters in HTML using the Numeric Entity and Named Entity systems, where e.g. ½ produces the ½ character (for full information on these, see my Character Codes page).
You will need to proof-read your document fairly carefully after uploading. Under some circumstances (and I don't know what they are because it's never happened to me!), instead of honouring HTML tags Ffn just strips the angle-brackets off them and treats the inside as text, so that instead of getting, for example, "Come on, Billy!" you get "Come ion/i, Billy!" It also sometimes does nasty things to justification, so centred text ends up left-justified, or it stays centred but everything after it gets centred too when you didn't want it to be: see Common uploading faults.
If you are not already logged in to your own account section, log in as described above, which will take you to your personal Account Settings page. From almost any point in your personal account section, whether you are in Account Settings or not, near the top of the page you will see a horizontal list of tab options beginning "Account"; "Publish"; "Inbox"; "Traffic": if you are on the Account Settings page you will have the Account tab highlighted. Below that is a box containing vertically-stacked options: on the Account Settings page these are "Settings"; "Profile"; "Avatar" and "Block Users".
The row of tabs and the box of options immediately below them constitute a separate menu section at the top of the page: below this the rest of the page is used for actually performing the functions selected form the menu. Whenever you click on a tab, the options for that task appear in the box immediately below the tab-list. This does not alter the fact that the lower part of the page may still be displaying a piece of work relating to some other tab, which will stay there unless and until you actually select a new option from the menu.
Click on Publish from the list of tab options near the top of the page. The box of vertically-stacked options will now include one called "Document Manager (Upload)". Click on this.
You will see a box called "Document Manager", containing a list of whatever named documents you may currently have in your documents folder on Ffn's server. Each document-name occupies the left-hand side of a line which also has entries to the right showing the format, the number of words in the document, how many days it is scheduled to remain in the Document Manager for before Ffn automatically deletes it (called its "life"), and the options Edit/Preview and Remove.
Beneath the Document Manager is a table labelled "Upload New Document", in which to fill in the details of the new document you wish to upload.
At the bottom of the upload form there are two radio buttons marked "Format:". If the document you are uploading is intended for immediate display as a story, make sure the Story button is ticked. The Docx format is for uploading documents to be shared with other Ffn members on an individual basis, such as beta readers, using the new Docx handling system which you will see in the tab options near the top of the page. Files uploaded to the Document Manager in Docx format preserve a wider range of formatting options, but they cannot be published as stories in that form.
Give the document a brief but reasonably memorable descriptive name (even if it's just "chap 3") in the text-box marked "Label:".
Use the Browse button to search your computer's file-tree and highlight the file you want to upload: the file name and address will appear in the "File on computer:" box. Click on the button marked "Submit Document".
Your document should now appear in the Document Manager table near the top of the page, under the name which you have given it. Click the Edit/Preview option for that document, and make sure that it is loaded correctly. Ffn occasionally either screws up the formatting of a document or fails to load it completely, cutting it off partway through (this may have been fixed, as I haven't seen it happen for about a year). In the latter case you will just have to keep on re-trying until it picks up the whole thing, or attempt to paste in the missing section - which it may or may not accept. You can get an idea of whether it has truncated the upload or not by looking at the figure under "Words", and seeing if it looks big enough.
Ffn may also have changed some of your formatting. For advice, see section below on upload errors and on editing.
Unless you specifically delete them by clicking on the Remove option in the Document Manager, files will remain in your Document Manager for sixty days. The column headed "Life:" counts down sixty days from when you uploaded the files, or from the last time you updated them and Saved Changes, whichever is longer.
Note that when you copy a file from the Document Manager into a story, whether as a new story or new chapter of an existing story, the original copy in the Document Manager will still be there as well, unless you specifically delete it.
Upload the document as described above, and check it in the Document Manager. You get there, remember, by selecting the Publish tab, then Document Manager (Upload).
Select New Story from the vertically-stacked options which are in the box near the top.
If you haven't uploaded a new story recently, a message will appear prompting you to read the story guidelines. Click the Guidelines link, and read them if you feel so inclined.
The Guidelines page includes a list of appropriate fic ratings, which are as follows:
K+: Suitable for more mature children, 9 years and older, with minor action violence without serious injury. May contain mild coarse language. Should not contain any adult themes.
T: Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes.
M: Not suitable for children or teens below the age of 16 with possible strong but non-explicit adult themes, references to violence, and strong coarse language.
MA: Content is only suitable for mature adults. May contain explicit language and adult themes.
Click the link at the bottom which says "Yes, I have read and agreed to the content guidelines." This refreshes the Guidelines page. Now go bact to the New Story link near the top of the page again. Click it.
The first item you will see in the New Story process is a pair of radio buttons labelled "Normal" and "Crossover". A crossover fanfic is one which mixes elements or characters from two different storyverses as a major aspect of its plot. A Harry Potter story in which Sherlock Holmes makes a cameo appearance is not really a crossover story, but one in which Harry is transported to Middle Earth to duel with Sauron is. According to the blurb, if you mark a story as a crossover it will only be listed in a special crossover section, not under either of the storyverses it is derived from, so use this option with caution.
Next, you will see a bar labelled "Select/Change Category". Click on it.
A dialogue box will now appear. If you have uploaded stories before, the first item in the box will be a pull-down list of the categories which your stories already occupy, headed "My Categories", and if the new story is on a similar theme you can just select the category from this list.
Otherwise, select your main category - Books, Cartoons, Comics or whatever - from the list headed "Select Main Category". Once you have done so, a list of sub-categories will appear. Use this list to select the specific story around which your fanfic is based, then click the bar labelled "Click to Continue". This will take you back to where you were before, with the Normal/Crossover buttons and the Select/Change Category bar, except that there will now be a "Continue" button at bottom right.
Click Continue. A page for story details will appear. There are two text-boxes in which to enter your Title, and Summary, plus pull-downs for selecting Language, Rating, Genre 1, Genre 2, Status, World, Character 1, Character 2 and Document.
The Title bar accepts all letters (including foreign ones) and numbers but it will not successfully save and display most "fancy" characters - not even some normal punctuation. It will not for example display full stops (periods), semi-colons, hyphens, slashes, brackets or double quotes.
The following is a list of those "regular" characters which are not accepted in titles. If you go to the Character Codes table and scroll down, you will see that titles also do not accept any of the mathematical and decorative characters which lie beyond the small omega ω, except for the minutes ′, seconds ″, overline ‾ and reference ※ symbols, which are accepted.
Note that that isn't a regular comma on the "not accepted" list, but a fancy thing called a "low left single quote". Normal commas are accepted in titles.
In fact, quite a lot of fancy characters are accepted in titles, such as e.g. double daggers ‡ and permil ‰ signs, and many foreign alphabets. However, it is advisable to restrict your title to letters and symbols which are on your keyboard, because readers may be looking for your story by title in the Search facility. They will not thank you if they have to go through complicated hoops just to type it into the search-box.
Also note that titles are restricted to a length of 50 characters including spaces.
The Summary bar will allow the display of most normal punctuation, and is restricted to 255 characters including spaces.
The following is a list of those "regular" characters which are not accepted in summaries. If you go to the Character Codes table and scroll down, you will see that summaries also do not accept any of the mathematical and decorative characters which lie beyond the small omega ω, except for the minutes ′, seconds ″, overline ‾ and reference ※ symbols, which are accepted.
Note that that isn't a regular comma on the "not accepted" list, but a fancy thing called a "low left single quote". Normal commas are accepted in summaries.
In fact, as with titles, quite a lot of fancy characters are accepted in story summaries, such as e.g. double daggers ‡ and permil ‰ signs, and many foreign alphabets. Be sure to include at least some sensible and distinctive summary content using keyboard characters, however, as readers may want to search for your story using summary keywords, and they have to be keywords they can type.
Select the various options covered by the pull-down lists:
Language means English, Spanish or whatever.
Rating means whether it is K+, T etc. as shown in the list given above. Stories rated MA are not actually allowed and there is no option for them on the list. Also note that it's a bad idea to rate a story M unless it definitely deserves it, because when readers first open an Ffn story-list the default is not to show any stories with an M rating, unless they specifically select "Fiction Rating: All" from the options listed at top right.
Genre means Angst, Poetry, Romance etc., and you are allowed to have two, as for example Drama/Science Fiction or Humor/Romance.
Status means whether the story is In-Progress or Complete. Select the appropriate radio-button.
World is for stories such as the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series, where there are both book and film versions (called here "Movies" in the American manner) which are distinctly different, and it may make a big difference whether a story is set in the film or book version of that fictional universe. Coose from "Books", "Movies" or "N/A" (Not Applicable).
The Character-lists enable you to identify two main characters. If your main character is not listed, or your story does not centre around a small number of specific individuals, you can leave these pull-downs on the default setting, which is "Any".
Document shows a list of the stories which you currently have in your Document Manager. Select the one which you uploaded for this story.
When you are satisfied, click the bar at the bottom labelled Publish New Story. You should see a message which says:
A message will now be sent to your email address, and to anybody who has you on author-alert, announcing the successful upload of the new story.
Go to the My Stories option near the top left of the Publish tab. This brings up a list of your stories, including the one you just added. Check that your summary and title have come through OK. If you need to change them, select the edit option next to the story in question on the My Stories page. This will take you back to the page with the title and summary boxes, genre and character pull-downs etc. as above, except that the bar at the bottom, which you click when you are satisfied, now says Save Changes.
Note also that when you finish a work in progress you should likewise return to the My Stories page, select the edit option next to the story in question and use the Status radio buttons to change the story from In-Progress to Complete.
Upload the file for your new chapter in the same manner as for a new story, and check that it has come across properly.
When you are satisfied with the document, save any changes and go to My Stories (under the Publish tab). Click on the story you want to add to.
You will see a series of options displayed into two boxes. The first box says "Editing Story:" followed by the title of the story. The second says "Story Properties" - this latter is for alterring things like your summary and title, or marking a story as complete.
Look for a link called "Content/Chapters" in the "Editing Story:" box, and click on it. This will take you to a page where the pre-existing chapters for that story are listed.
Near the bottom you will see a section labelled "Add New Chapter (#[number]) to end of Story". In the text-box labelled "Chapter Title", type in the title if any (if not, Ffn will just assign it a number, e.g. "Chapter 8"). Use the "Document/Chapter Content" pull-down to select the relevant document from the Document Manager, and click the button marked "Add Chapter".
After you've uploaded a story or chapter, it's a good idea to check it very carefully, especially if it was a .doc file or similar rather than HTML. You can check it while it's in Document Manager, and there are also Preview links at the top of the editing window in Document Manager, and on both the My Stories page and against the individual chapters in the Content/Chapters page for each story. Preview enables you to view your story without adding a spurious extra click to your activity-count.
Specific HTML tags for things like italics and underscoring will usually be honoured by Ffn, but italics, centred-text and other formatting in a .doc file come through only very patchily, and often revert to plain text; or it may put the whole document in italics instead of one word, or strip the angle brackets off the HTML tags and leave the contents in the text, rendering e.g. "boldface" as "bboldface/b". Ffn also sometimes removes spaces and runs two words together, apparently at random: this can happen when you edit a pre-existing file which you have exported to the Document Manager, as well as when you upload a new one.
Since the winter 2009 upgrade, Ffn also does not accept unbroken words/strings of more than twenty-nine unaccented Latin characters, although it accepts longer strings broken by apostrophes or hyphens, and there is no restricion in the use of foreign or accented-Latin characters. This is not a problem in English, since the longest word in the English language is supposedly "floccinaucinihilipilification" at twenty-nine letters: but it may present difficulties to writers in Welsh or German, or wishing to give characters or places in their stories long, complicated foreign names. If your word is longer than twenty-nine letters, make sure some of the characters are accented.
Double-spacing between two paragraphs, to indicate a section-break, simply doesn't come through, nor do pre-existing horizontal rules in uploaded documents, although the <hr> or <hr /> tag in HTML files is honoured. The Document Manager dislikes single spaces after a horizontal rule and will sometimes change them to either no space or a double space - about the only time that double spacing works. You may have to delete and re-insert spaces and save your changes several times before you are satisfied.
Since the Spring 2009 update, accented letters such as é typed into HTML files directly as characters will be lost during the upload of HTML documents, and this also applies to many fancy characters such as daggers † and section § signs. If you re-insert them once the file is in the Document Manager, they stay put, and you can also upload them successfully by entering them into the original HTML file in code form. Some can be entered as Numeric Entities or decimal codes, some only as Named Entities - to find out which is which, see the Character Codes page.
Ffn used to accept <center> </center> HTML tags as a means of centring text, but since the Spring 2009 update it no longer does so. If uploading files as HTML code it is important to use either <p ALIGN=CENTER"> or <p STYLE="text-align: center"> for centring instead, preferably with a </P> tag at the end of the area to be centred. Of these, <p style="text-align: center;"> is to be preferred, as the simple ALIGN attribute has been deprecated and may not be supported in the future.
Any attempt to use <center> </center> results in the text which was meant to be centred ending up left-justified.
Following the Spring 2009 update, it was the case that if you then tried to centre it in the Edit window, you were liable to find that the whole document subsequent to that point became centred. This could only be corrected by accessing the source HTML code in the Edit window (by clicking the button at top-right marked "HTML" - see editing) and laboriously rewriting all the <center> </center> tags as <p STYLE="text-align: center"> </p>, with special attention to the </p>. You were also liable to find that paragraph tags following next after the areas which were meant to be centred had been changed to <p STYLE="text-align: center"> , and had to be manually changed back to <p align="left">.
Following the winter 2009 update, Ffn's HTML story source-code now uses <p style="text-align: center;"> tags for centring, and the problem with subsequent text getting centred as well seems to have been fixed - although I'm leaving the information about how to fix it on here until I'm sure it isn't going to recur. For the moment, if you use the wrong tags and your centred text or section-break ends up left-justified you can correct it simply by highlighting it, clicking the "Align center" icon at the top of the Edit window (fifth icon from the left) and saving your changes.
Note however that there is now a bug in the Edit window which means that for some incomprehensible reason centred text in stories uploaded as Word documents sometimes displays correctly, but centred text uploaded as HTML always or nearly always displays in the Edit window as left-justified, even though if you examine both documents in HTML mode they look the same and use the same code. If you click the Preview button, however (next to the HTML button at top right), you will usually find that provided you used the correct type of centring tags, your centred text will actually be centred in Preview mode, and will be centred when you convert it to a published story. Basically the Edit window, even after saving, no longer resembles the finished article.
See section on editing, below, for an explanation of how to correct these errors once they have occurred.
Go to Login - Publish - My Stories and click on the story you want, then go to Content/Chapters (on the "Editing Story:" line).
On the right of the page you will see a series of options with the column headings Edit, Delete, Export and Download. On each individual chapter line these options appear as blue hyperlinks labelled EDIT, DEL, EXP and DL.
The "EDIT" option is for making changes to the chapter title, and for moving the chapter up and down the list relative to the other chapters. Of the other options, Delete or DEL removes the chapter, Export or EXP sends a copy of the chapter to the Document Manager where you can edit its content; and Download or DL opens a copy of the chapter in a plain format, without being embedded in any Ffn framework, so that you can easily save it back onto your own computer.
Go to Login - Publish - My Stories and click on the story you want, then go to Content/Chapters (on the Editing Story line). Find the chapter you want to alter (if it's a one-shot you will have only one).
Click on the "EDIT" link next to the chapter you are interested in, and you will see that the chapter title is now in an editable text-box. When you have made any necessary changes, click the button marked Save.
Click on the "EDIT" link next to the chapter you are interested in, and you will see that the chapter title is now in an editable text-box. So long as you have more than one chapter, next to the title text-box you will see a pull-down labelled "move to:", which enables you to shunt an individual chapter higher or lower in relation to the chapter-list as a whole. When you are satisfied with the posion of the chapter, click the button marked Save.
There are two slightly different ways to edit a chapter, depending on how recently it was uploaded.
If the chapter was uploaded or edited within the past sixty days, it should still be in your Documents folder. In this case:
Identify the document which contains the chapter you want to edit, and click either on the name of the document or on the Edit/Preview option to the right of the name. A window will appear containing an editable version of the document.
Make sure you remember the name of the document you are editing, as you will need to know it later.
If the chapter was not uploaded or edited within the past sixty days, it will no longer be in your Document Manager folder. In this case:
Find the chapter you want to alter (if it's a one-shot you will have only one). On the right of the page you will see a series of options - Edit, Delete, Export and Download.
Click on "EXP" and a message will appear at the top of the screen, saying: "Chapter exported to Document Manager as Export:" followed by the name and number of the chapter.
The word "Export:" plus the chapter ID will be a blue hyperlink. Click this hyperlink and you will see an editable copy of the chapter.
In either case, the rest of the procedure is the same:
When you are satisfied with the results of your last Save, go back to My Stories and select the story you want again. Select Content/Chapters again.
At the bottom of the screen you will find a section headed "Replace/Update Chapter with new Content". Select the chapter you want to alter from the "Replace content in Chapter..." pull-down.
Now click the "with content of Document..." pull-down, and you will see a list of all documents you currently have in your Document Manager. This will include the one you just edited. Select it, double check that you really have matched the right replacement file to the right original chapter, then click the button at the side marked Replace Chapter.
Note that when you are in the Edit/Preview Document window for a given document, you can switch to another document, without having to go back to the file-list in Document Manager, by using the pull-down list which is at the right side of the title-bar at the top of the document you are currently viewing.
N.B. On those occasions when Ffn's document-upload system is broken, you can use the editing system to circumvent it. Export any random chapter from any of your stories, as described above, to get it into the Document Manager, then delete the existing content and paste in the content of your new chapter - or do the same with any document which may already be in your Document Manager, and which you can afford to overwrite in this way. Save your changes and then make sure it really has saved them.
Then go to My Stories, select the story you wish to add the new chapter to and go to Content/Chapters. Near the bottom of the screen you will find a section headed "Add New Chapter (#[number]) to end of Story". Type the name of the chapter, if any, in the box under "Chapter Title".
Now click the "Document/Chapter Content" pull-down, and you will see a list of all documents you currently have in your Document Manager. This will include the one you just edited with new chapter-content: if you used an exported file, it will be called "Export:" followed by the chapter number and name of the chapter you originally exported it from. Select it, then click the button at the side marked Add Chapter.
Then go to Live Preview on the Editing Story line, and make sure it worked!
If you decide that a chapter is so faulty that you want to remove it, and you do not have an immediate replacement ready, you may wish to delete the chapter for the moment. If so, go to Login - Publish - My Stories and click on the story you want, then go to Content/Chapters (on the Editing Story line). Click on the "DEL" option next to the chapter you want to delete.
Usually, however, if a chapter needs too many corrections to just edit it on the fly, the best solution is to alter the original source-file on your computer, upload the revised file to your Document Manager and then use it to replace the faulty chapter, as described above.
Actually deleting and re-posting a chapter should be avoided where possible, as it may result in spurious "New Chapter" alerts being sent out. In the case of one-shots, deleting the one-and-only chapter may also cause you to lose your pre-existing reviews.
Open the text you wish to edit by clicking Edit/Preview against the relevant file in the Document Manager, or by clicking on an exported file as shown above.
You will see that at along the top of the editing window there are buttons for inserting a horizontal rule, for various formatting options and for actions such as Undo. To format a piece of text as italics, for example, highlight the text and click the button marked I.
A "Find" option, signified by a button showing a pair of binoculars, enables you find the piece of text you are trying to change. If you click on Find you will find there is also a Replace option on offer.
There is also a Spellchecker, an HTML button, which enables you to see and edit your text in HTML code, a Preview button which shows you how your document will look as a published story (published on Ffn, that is!), and an option called "Paste from Word". Click on the last and a small pop-up window will open, into which you can paste Word text using Ctrl-V, and then click on Insert to paste it into your story text. Since you can paste directly from Word into the story text in any case, this is a singularly useless feature. All it seems to do is convert your Word text into the same font as your story text - but that happens automatically when you hit Save, in any case.
You can now go ahead and make any changes you want, within the limits of Ffn's flexibility. Bear in mind however that certain characters are disallowed (see below), and although they may appear as you type them, they will disappear when you try to save them. Also bear in mind that the latest upgrade of the Edit window is buggy and tends to display centred text as if it was left-justified, at least if it was uploaded as an HTML file. You may have to click the Preview button to see how your text formatting really looks.
Note that hitting Return/Enter on its own will create a paragraph-break (separated lines with a one-line space in between them), but hitting Return/Enter whilst depressing the Shift key will create a line-break (separated lines with no space between them). You are not allowed to have more than one space between paragraphs, and if you try it Ffn will reduce it back to one space as soon as you try to save your changes.
Ffn used to be be very sticky about paragraph and line breaks. I think this particular bug has now been fixed, but in case it hasn't, watch out for it putting in more or less space than you've told it to, especially following a horizontal rule. You may also find that a change to line-spacing results in line-breaks further down the page being converted from line-breaks to paragraph-breaks or vice versa. If you are going to insert or delete a break, always Save and then check the file very carefully to make sure it's come out the way you intended, including checking that the breaks further down the page are still as you want them. If the bug is still there you may have to fiddle around with the breaks and save them several times to get something acceptable.
When you are satisfied with the alterations, click the Save button. A message saying "Success Changes to document: [name of document] successfully saved." will appear at the top of the screen, and the document in the editing window will be updated.
Now read through the document in the editing window and see if the changes you have made still look OK. Ffn will not necessarily apply the changes in exactly the way you made them, especially as regards spacing. You may have to fiddle around, alternately editing and saving, until you get a result you are happy with.
Ffn will not display all the characters in the standard character set, and some of those which it does display do not appear in all circumstances. The characters which it does not display will usually appear in the edit window if you type them in as you edit your text, but when you save your changes they disappear.
On the other hand, it happily accepts and displays some quite rare symbols which can't be used in Word without special Unicode fonts.
With those characters which will only display under certain circumstances, it's as well to check very carefully after saving your text, because a character-string may save and appear normally six times in a row and fail on the seventh. Some which will upload happily in Word cannot be uploaded successfully in an HTML file unless they are encoded - and which type of code will work for them varies from character to character.
Note that all the common characters, and some rarer ones, can be inserted into a document (or directly into the Edit window of a file on Ffn) by holding down the Alt key and tapping a number on the number-pad (not on the numbers along the top of your keyboard).
I have listed the different characters which won't display at all, won't display solo etc. below, in quick-reference tables. On this page I have just listed the relevant characters without details: for a full list of all the characters with their full textual names, Alt+ numbers and HTML codes, as well as a chart of how they behave in Ffn, see the separate Character Codes page. Clicking on a character in the quick-reference charts will take you to that individual character's line on the Character Codes page.
N.B. Characters shown on solid-coloured grounds are ones which require special Unicode fonts to display either in Word or on your browser.
Characters shown on an azure ground are ones which can be displayed in Lucida Sans Unicode, which most people using Windows will already have. Many of them will also display quite happily in Ffn's private version of the Verdana font, although not in the the regular one, and can therefore be used to construct ornamental effects on Ffn. Even if an azure-grounded character looks like a placeholder square on your browser, if you copy it into Ffn's Edit window it should display OK, so long as it's a permitted character.
Characters shown on a rose or jade ground are ones which require more advanced Unicode fonts which ship with the more recent versions of Word or Office, or can be purchased separately. All will display in the sans serif font Arial Unicode MS: if you don't have that then the symbols shown on a rose ground will display in the serif font MS Mincho, while those on jade require Cambria Math.
If you do not have the right fonts to view these characters, you aren't likely to even think of using them anyway, but if you want to see what they look like click on the character's square to go to its entry on the Character Codes page, and then click again on the square where the character ought to be displayed, to open a small window with a .gif image of what that character would look like if you had the right fonts.
As at February 2010, the following characters are never displayed in story-text after saving, under any circumstances (although some, such as the greater-than > character, may appear on an initial upload and then disappear when saved, and a few of the fancy mathematical symbols which resemble Gothic letters will come through converted into normal capitals):
Note that the standard left angle bracket or "less than" sign < and the flattened "bra" left-pointing angle bracket 〈 not only do not display but are dangerous to insert, as Ffn may interpret them as the start of an HTML tag, and do unpredictable things to the following text.
Note also that Ffn does not honour the non-breaking space (HTML code ). There seems to be no way of getting more than one space between characters, other than by introducing a small dot between two spaces.
In addition, there are a group of five Japanese characters which can sometimes be generated in Ffn by opening the file in the Document Manager, pressing Alt and typing 0129, 0141, 0143, 0144 or 0157 on the number pad. Sometimes this works, sometimes they end up as placeholder squares. These symbols will display on Ffn if you can once get them to appear, and some of them make attractive section breaks, so if you like them you can copy and paste them from here.
[N.B. These files are linked to their own reference-lines on the Character Codes page. If you try to copy them you may be transferred to the relevant line of that page, but if so, you can copy them from there.]
There are certain characters, particularly specialised mathematical and formatting symbols, such as "not a subset of", which will not display in Word documents except by the use of a specialised Unicode font (even though in some cases a standard Arial font may be enough to display them on the net) but which will display on Ffn, which make attractive section breaks and which can be introduced by other methods, e.g. by uploading your story as HTML code, or by pasting them in in the Document Manager.
[Be aware, though, that they may not work on Ffn for readers who don't have a suitable Unicode font on their own PC.]
Examples shown here on a plain transparent ground may require Lucida Sans Unicode (which is available on all Windows versions since Win98) to work OK in Word, but should display on this website in a bog-standard font such as Arial. Examples on an azure ground require Lucida Sans Unicode to be able to display on your browser.
Those on a rose or jade ground require more recent Unicode fonts to display correctly on your browser, as well as in Word. They need fonts which are bundled with the more advanced versions of Office or Word. Those shown on a rose ground will display in either Arial Unicode MS or MS Mincho; those on jade, either Arial Unicode MS or Cambria Math.
The ones after the space on the third row are Unicode characters which do not have Named Entity codes and are not part of the standard character set, but which I have listed on the Character Codes page because they are attractive and do display on Ffn.
If you are using HTML source-files for your story-text, you have better control over formatting than you have with Word documents, but recent iterations of Ffn are more temperamental about accepting unusual (and even some usual) characters in HTML than in Word. You cannot use very "fancy" characters in their overt form in the HTML document, because HTML documents are saved as plain text and this severely limits what characters can be displayed: but Ffn also rejects some characters which plain text files usually accept, such as accented letters. It is possibly to get round this by encoding these characters in the HTML &#[number]; format where, for example, ¤ codes for the general currency sign ¤; or in the "friendly code" or Named Entity system where e.g. the general currency sign is ¤.
Codes for accented letters can be constructed using the format ampersand + unaccented letter + name of accent + semi-colon. E.g., a capital 'E' with an acute accent, É, codes as É, a circumflexed 'o', ô, is ô, an 'a' with a grave accent, à, is à, a capital 'C' with a cedilla, Ç, is Ç and an 'o' with an umlaut, ö, is ö.
You can also use HTML code if you wish to use characters which require special fonts in order to be displayed in a Word document. It is not necessary to upload the whole file in HTML format unless you want to: you can upload a .doc file, then open the file in the Edit/Preview window of the Document Manager and select HTML from the list of options at the top of the Edit window. This should enable you to view your file in HTML format, and insert entity-codes as and where you wish.
As at the winter 2009 update, there are certain characters which cannot be uploaded if they are entered into an HTML file directly as characters rather than codes, even though they are able to be displayed in story-text once they get there. In some cases this is due to the plain-text nature of HTML files, but many are excluded by Ffn itself. For example .txt files accept and display common accented characters such as é, but Ffn deletes them.
As before, characters shown on a solid ground below require Unicode fonts to display correctly on your browser, even though they work on Ffn. Any on an azure ground require Lucida Sans Unicode: any on rose or jade require less common fonts which are bundled with the more advanced versions of Office or Word. Those shown on a rose ground will display in either Arial Unicode MS or MS Mincho; those on jade, either Arial Unicode MS or Cambria Math.
In addition all the characters with decimal code numbers higher than about 1000 also fall into this category of having to be inserted as code if you want them in an HTML file.
There are also certain special characters which will upload if you enter them directly into an HTML file, but which become simplified into their plain-text equivalents.
In some of its incarnations, including the winter 2009 one, Ffn refuses to accept certain HTML codes for characters, even if it would accept them by other means. Which codes are involved varies: some characters will display as Named Entity codes but not as Numeric Entities, or vice versa.
At least one character is simplified to plain text if entered as a Numeric Entity code.
The following characters will not upload as Numeric Entities and have no Named Entity codes, but they can still be uploaded as decimal or hexadecimal codes (click on the characters to see their entries on the Character Codes page).
All other characters which can be saved in Ffn story-text at all, can be uploaded as HTML code. For a complete list of both plain and fancy characters which can be inserted using HTML code, see the Character Codes page.
The handling of the different types of space is eccentric. Ordinary spaces which you type in on the keyboard, with the space-bar, upload normally in both HTML and Word but multiple spaces are always reduced to one, and sometimes Ffn randomly deletes spaces, either at upload or when you Save an edit, and runs odd words together. The nonbreaking space character uploads, in both HTML and Word, but it is converted into an ordinary space and cannot be used to make multiple spaces.
In theory the en space character should generate a space slightly wider than a normal keyboarded space, the em space character should be wider still and the thin space character should be narrower than a normal space. When uploaded to Ffn, however, all three behave exactly the same way.
They won't upload directly as characters, but under some circumstances they will do so as HTML codes. Regardless of whether they are inserted into an HTML document as decimal or Named Entity codes, if they are next to each other, or next to a regular character, they fail and are replaced by square place-holders. If they have a space either side of them, or one of the more exotic characters, however, they upload successfully, resulting in a long space. All three generate the same size space, wider than a keyboard space, and with a keyboard space either side they make a noticeable gap.
At the bottom of the Character Codes page, below the character-table, you will also find examples of Unicode characters and of symbols which can be inserted into a Word document, but for which I have not found the HTML codes.
If you go to the Unicode section of FileFormat.Info, The Digital Rosetta Stone you will find a comprehensive list of characters including thousands more which may work on Ffn, including many which are on Word's symbol-list. There are decimal and hexadecimal HTML codes listed for all of them, but it's only worth pursuing them if you are really dedicated to producing interesting visual effects.
As at February 2010, the following characters are not displayed in Ffn story-text if they are the only character on a line, whether singly, or multiple examples of the same character. The ones after the space are Unicode characters which do not have Named Entity codes and are not part of the standard character set, but which I have listed on the Character Codes page because they are attractive and do display on Ffn.
This means that you cannot e.g. have a line which just has one § in it, nor can you have a line which just has §§§§ or § § § § on it. For characters for which multiples are permitted, you can however include a string of such characters on a line which has at least one other character on it (other than a space), provided that that other character does not fall into the "never displayed" or "never displayed solo" categories. So for example the following line:
will display as written, because the presence of the brackets allows the other characters to be displayed.
Note that all of these characters will not display even if you have a mix of characters on a line, if all the characters in the mix are ones which won't display when they are the only character on the line. You cannot, for example, have +§+ as the sole characters on a line, just as you cannot have +++.
Also note that those characters which will not display when they are the sole character on the line (whether or not they are accepted as multiples when combined with other characters) also will not display if they are in bold, in italics or underlined and they are not adjacent to a normal character (which may include a space for some purposes) which is formatted in the same way. The change of formatting seems to isolate them, so that they are then treated as if they were the only characters on the line. However, this does not apply in reverse: if the non-solo-character is in normal face and the characters around it are in bold, italics or underlined, it is not affected.
This display was originally done with exclamation-marks rather than section signs, which made more sense: but Ffn has now changed the rules to allow exclamation marks as the sole character on a line.
Note that there is a character called an overline which is visually very similar to a macron accent ¯ (Alt+0175), except that an overline can appear as a solo character on its own line, and can be singled out for special formatting without disappearing. For design purposes an overline is therefore preferable in some circumstances, but it cannot be obtained via your keyboard: only by copy-and-pasting it (you can use this ‾ one!), or by entering the code ‾ or ‾ in an HTML document or into the HTML view of a story which you are editing in Ffn's Document Manager.
In addition, since the winter 2009 update Ffn has imposed restrictions on the length of character strings, as follows:
Again, formatting individual sections of a longer string to boldface, underline or italics can have odd effects. For example, the following ASCII-character wand:
is made up of:
or, as code:
(<strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">‾‾‾‾‾‾</span></strong>
Try to add it in to Ffn, and what you get is:
The fact that the "identical to" and equals signs are in bold isolates them from the alphabetical 'Xi's. Ffn sees that there are more than nineteen characters and starts to unravel the group from the end, stopping when it reaches the alphabetical characters. Stick an alphabetical character on the end, though, and it displays OK:
This can also lead to some strange results in designs made up of several lines of characters separated by line-breaks rather than paragraph breaks. Individual lines not containing an alphabetical character may be deleted - even if they are only a few characters long - and others allowed, with no obvious rhyme or reason. All you can do with multi-line designs is try it and see how it looks, and if a line disappears, bung an alphabetical character into it.
You can also sometimes get around the restrictions if you have a string of very short blocks alternating different formatting. For example this string of alternating colons and overlines:
can only be repeated up to the nineteen-character limit, whilst this one:
in which the overlines are underlined and the colons are not, can be repated ad infinitum.
You can also trick Ffn into accepting long strings which all have the same formatting, so long as they do have some special formatting and are not just plain text, by repeating the same format tags to break the text into blocks of not more than nineteen characters. For example:
will cause Ffn to display the string:
will be deleted, because Ffn can only display this design in blocks of nineteen or fewer characters unless split up by tags. Without intervening tags, the longest version Ffn will accept is:
You can create section breaks out of a simple line of repeats of a single character, but bear in mind that certain characters are not displayed at all, or not displayed when they are the sole character on the line, as detailed above. In order to be displayed, a line of characters must include at least one which is not subject to these restrictions. Combinations of characters also work and can be made to look good, especially if centred and in bold-face, with a space both above and below.
The character-strings shown below create attractive section breaks which Ffn will display correctly: please feel free to copy them. Most are shown here in bold-face, but they can of course be varied by disbolding them or putting them into italics etc..
Exceptions which are not shown in bold-face include the wiggly lines of various sizes of circles, because otherwise the smallest ones end up too light in relation to the rest. There are certain characters such as division signs ÷ (Alt+0247) which cannot be emboldened, and look just the same whether you format them as boldface or not. Patterns which combine these with other characters generally look better in plain face, because in bold these non-bolding characters tend to look too faint in proportion.
Note that Ffn displays text either in the font Verdana or in a plain un-named serif or a sans-serif font, at the discretion of the reader. Most of the designs below are shown in Verdana, since that is the default font, so that you can see how they'll look in actual use - apart from the ones labelled "Upper and lower lines are not symmetrical in all browsers", which are shown in a Unicode font becase the characters may come out different sizes in standard Verdana, although they are symmetrical in the version used by Ffn.
Some designs/characters, such as the dagger and double dagger , look more attractive in a bold-face serif font than they do in Verdana. If you really want to create pretty serif effects you can always put in a note advising readers to select the serif font option (the middle one of the trio of "A"s above the chapter pull-down near the top right of the story page). However, the Verdana or sans-serif options make the characters look less like letters and more like symmetrical patterns.
The broken vertical bar character, ¦, which is used in some of these designs is made by holding down Alt Gr and tapping the key which is at top left of your keypad, just left of #1 on the numerical row. The not sign, ¬, is made by holding down Shift while pressing the same key.
Note, if creating your own designs, that Ffn does not underline spaces. Remember that each line must include at least one character which is capable of being displayed if it were the sole character on that line, and beware of alternating formatting. Those characters which are listed above as not displaying if they are the sole character on the line will display in combination with other characters if they are in plain face and the other characters next to them are bold, underlined or italic, but not if the other characters are plain and the non-solo-displaying characters are bold, underlined or italic.
Also remember that there are complicated rules governing the number of characters which can be displayed in one unbroken string. If in doubt, stick to blocks of nineteen characters or less.
Many of these dividers are made using characters which are obtained by holding down the Alt key and tapping a number on the number-pad (not on the numerical row along the top of your keyboard). You can copy them from this webpage, but if you want to type them, release the Alt key after typing each individual character - do not try to e.g. hold the Alt key down and type 250250250
There are two separate sequences of numbers which can be combined with the Alt key to generate characters. You can see a complete list of them on the Character Codes page. Each of the characters which can be generated using the Alt key has a number which begins with a zero, as well as at least one shorter one which does not. To insert special, non-keyboard characters into HTML code, take the longer number beginning with zero and insert it into a piece of code which goes ampersand, hash, number, semi-colon.
In this HTML code, the initial zero is optional. For example, the copyright symbol has two Alt+ numbers, 184 and 0169, and the code for it is either © or © - this is called a "Numeric Entity" or "Numerical Code". Some special characters also have a "Named Entity" or "Friendly Code" - e.g. the copyright symbol can also be written ©. In Alt+ numbers, however, if a leading zero is shown it is not optional.
All the section-breaks below can be copied and pasted into Ffn. The names of the non-keyboard characters in the descriptions of these section-breaks are linked to their reference line on the Character Codes page: click on a character-name to see its Alt+ number(s) and HTML code equivalent(s).
Check all designs carefully after uploading your document and before posting it. Ffn goes through phases where it will refuse to upload a particular character, hence some designs may not survive being uploaded, and have to be pasted into the text in the edit window.
Some of these designs in fact will not display correctly in a Word document unless you have special fonts: the cryptic notes on some of the designs below about requiring LSU/AUM fonts inWord refer to the Lucida Sans Unicode and Arial Unicode MS fonts. Failing that, instead of uploading them in a .doc file they can be uploaded to Ffn in an HTML file, or copied and pasted into the story in the Edit window, or inserted using the HTML editing option.
Note that if you are coding multi-line blocks of characters broken up by line-breaks, and you have a fancy format which covers more than one line of the design - such as a three-line design all of which is in boldface - it is advisable to begin and end the formatting tags freshly on each individual line. So, so e.g., you write:
<strong>O</strong><br /><strong>O O O</strong><br /><strong>O</strong>
<strong>O<br />O O O<br />O</strong>
Failure to observe this rule can result in Ffn becoming confused, turning your line-breaks into paragraph breaks and scrambling your design.
Remember to restrict section-breaks consisting solely of non-alphabetical characters (other than the masculine ordinal º) to 19 characters, and those consisting solely of alphabetical characters to 29 letters, unless you break them into blocks of 19 or 29 using formatting tags (see string-length).
Lines shown in red probably will not upload - or copy-and-paste - from Word documents. You must upload them as HTML, or copy-and-paste them from this web-page.
Click on the
There are a range of more-or-less ornamental foreign or technical characters which can be inserted into Word documents using the Insert - Symbol menu options, but which do not have HTML entity codes as such. They do still have high numbers which can be used to code them in HTML, but there are hundreds of them in Word, and thousands more exist. I have located the codes for a selection of visually-attractive symbols which I have used in the section-breaks above.
To view those extra characters for which I have found the codes, and to see a .gif of all those extra symbols which exist in the "normal text" font of Word's symbol selection and which will display successfully in Ffn story-text, go to the bottom of the Character Codes page. To search for code-numbers for the ones I haven't found yet, or to rummage through a wide range of other foreign alphabets, go to the Unicode section of FileFormat.Info, The Digital Rosetta Stone
As a precaution against spamming, Ffn does not display URLs or e-mail addresses if typed in in the normal manner. If you really need to display a link you will have to put in spaces to break it up.
At the moment, underscores are displaying OK in story text, but this did not used to be the case. If they disappear again, then in order to describe an URL which includes an underscore, you will have to actually write "underscore". Ffn story-text definitely does not display the Commercial At sign @, which has to be written as "at".
The following formats work with story-text (messages and reviews have their own special requirements, q.v.) and will be displayed as written:
www. whitehound. co. uk/Fanfic/good_or_bad_Snape. htm
www . whitehound . co . uk / Fanfic / good_or_bad_Snape . htm
www dot whitehound dot co dot uk forward-slash Fanfic slash good underscore or underscore bad underscore Snape dot htm
whitehound at madasafish. com
whitehound at madasafish . com
whitehound at madasafish dot com
Reviews are limited to 10,000 characters, including spaces. The review system displays most of the same characters as story-text, except that it disallows the equals sign, and allows the commercial-at @, the zero-width characters and and the card suits ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦. Symbols which are shown on a jade ground in the table of characters which do not display in story-text will not display in reviews either, and those shown on a rose or azure ground may require the reader to have special Unicode fonts. Those aside, as at February 2010, the following characters are never successfully posted in reviews:
The review system allows double characters, whether they are the sole character on the line or part of a mixture of text, but groups of three or more are reduced down to one. If you write "Mmm" it will come out as a single M, although "Mm" is accepted. If you write "20,000" it will come out as "20,0".
There is at least one exception to this. It will accept double and triple full stops, but if you try to enter more they will be reduced down to three dots.
Like story-text, the Ffn review system does not display URLs or e-mail addresses, although it does accept @. In addition, it converts www to a single w unless you space it out.
If you need to include URLs or emails they will have to be written thus:
w w w. whitehound. co. uk/Fanfic/good_or_bad_Snape. htm
w w w . whitehound . co . uk / Fanfic / good_or_bad_Snape . htm
3ws dot whitehound dot co dot uk forward-slash Fanfic slash good underscore or underscore bad underscore Snape dot htm
whitehound @ madasafish. com
whitehound @ madasafish . com
whitehound at madasafish. com
whitehound at madasafish . com
The review system is censored, and will remove certain words and replace them with asterisks - even "pissed" which in Britain is a common and unobjectionable term for being drunk, and "ass" which is just a donkey, here. And don't try to say that something is "hard on" somebody, because it will be assumed to be a sexual reference, and deleted - use "rough on" instead.
Private Messages are limited to 8,000 characters, including spaces. Like reviews, the messaging system displays most of the same characters as story-text, except that it allows the commercial-at @, the zero-width characters and and the card suits ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦. Symbols which are shown on a jade ground in the table of characters which do not display in story-text will not display in reviews either, and those shown on a rose or azure ground may require the reader to have special Unicode fonts. Those aside, as at February 2010, the following additional characters are never successfully transferred in messages:
As with reviews, the system is censored and will arbitrarily remove certain words considered to be shocking in America, even if they aren't even swear-words in Britain. If I really badly need to get round this, such as to comment on the difference between "ass" and "arse" as a Britpicking issue, I cheat by substituting foreign or mathematical letters which look similar, e.g. "ašš", "p¡ss".
Like story-text, the Ffn messaging system also does not display URLs or e-mail addresses, although it does accept @. If you need to include URLs or emails in messages they will have to be written thus:
www. whitehound. co. uk/Fanfic/good_or_bad_Snape. htm
whitehound @ madasafish. com
whitehound @ madasafish . com