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My novel contains emails, titles of news articles, parts of technical journals, and snippets of computer output in addition to regular dialogue and action.

Is it common/acceptable to use one font for computer output and emails, another for news articles, and something else for regular dialogue and action? I consistently use the same font for each throughout the story.

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  • Submission guidelines vary. If you get that far, you should be able to print what you want (with the publisher's support); however, it is common for agents and publishers to request .txt (plain text) submissions. I'm not sure why. It's a pain if you use a lot of italics, and all (?) script appears as 12-point to the reader. But as an artist, I think one produces their best work and then deals with the publishing issues as they arise.
    – Stu W
    Apr 5 '16 at 22:59
  • @StuW Dunno, I looked for major publishers and they accept mostly .doc files.
    – rus9384
    Oct 12 '18 at 8:18
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If you're planning on submitting to a traditional publishing house (i.e. print media), then you're probably going to want to avoid using different fonts. Many publishing houses have requirements on submitted manuscripts that involve using a particular font (fixed width seems to be popular).

However, if you're planning to self-publish, then I'd say use different fonts. I'd limit yourself to no more than 3 different fonts as a rough guideline, just to avoid confusing the reader. But keep in mind that font choice is a design/layout choice in the publishing process, so if you're using a professional editor or layout person (which hopefully you are), then you'll need to work with them. They may have their own ideas of which fonts and how many are acceptable.

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I'd say yes if you're careful about it and don't overdo it. Different formatting can be useful in quickly alerting the reader that the text is from an article or an email, particularly if it begins a chapter. I wouldn't make it a third of the book, but used judiciously, sure.

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    Thanks for the feedback, Lauren Ipsum. You nailed the intent exactly - to quickly alert the reader that the text is from email or computer output without having to write a paragraph to that effect. The emails and news articles are just here and there, certainly not a third of the book.
    – RichS
    Apr 5 '16 at 5:31
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I think what I've seen most commonly used is the same font throughout, but that anything which the characters read, such as from a computer, in print, or on signs, and I think even excerpts from audiovisual media, is italicised and has wider left and right margins

Less commonly a different font, such as one mimicking handwriting or the actual font of the text, might be used. It can help to build character. I recall some novels making use of a dot-matrix style script when those printers were in common use, or a mish-mash of different fonts to mimic the cut from newspapers ransom note.

Either option can potentially work well. The first keeps the onus purely on the reader's imagination, the second provides more of an illustration.

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