Handbooks as a group possess one unfortunate combination of characteristics. On the one hand, the very nature of their function makes errors and inconsistencies more serious in handbooks than in many other types of publication. On the other, because handbook content is so largely tabular and composed of relatively unrelated sections, mistakes are not as obvious from the context as in publications with greater over‐all continuity of thought; thus errors are not as readily recognized in manuscript and proof. In the American Institute of Physics Handbook, avoidance of errors and achievement of complete consistency were further complicated by the magnitude of the copy (some 3500–4000 manuscript pages) and the fact that, to speed publication, production was begun on some parts before the entire manuscript had been completed.

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