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Maintain an open ‘ancillary idea file’ for your textbook

TextbooksAs an author of several textbooks and ancillaries over a couple of decades, Kevin Patton, professor of Life Science at St. Charles Community College, shared the following valuable textbook writing tips on TAA’s Textbook Authoring listserv:

“Keep a file open on your desktop as you work on the textbook. As you ‘think about’ ideas for the ancillaries, jot them down in your open “ancillary idea file.” No matter how good your memory is, you’ll forget those brilliant insights when the time comes to implement them.

When I do this, I usually set up a skeleton outline of chapter numbers/names (if I’m fairly confident it won’t change much) or an outline of major topics and subtopics that I’ll be covering in the book. When you have an idea for that chapter/topic, you can simply drop it right into the correct location in your idea file–thus keeping it organized as you go.

Also, include some general headings for global, nonspecific ideas that may occur to you. For example, headings such as Question Types, Terminology, General Study Tips, etc., can help you sort out those ideas that might apply to the whole supplement (or all chapters).”

Kevin Patton hosts two textbook blogs: The A&P Professor and The A&P Student.