Questions tagged [formatting]

Questions about text appearance: styling, placement, fonts, indents, bullets.

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72
votes
9answers
14k views

The Good, the Bad, and the Semicolon

I completed my novel and an editor friend graciously offered to assist me with formatting. As a former scientist, I am more familiar with technical or academic writing, so formatting fiction can be a ...
53
votes
16answers
7k views

Should you use two spaces after a period, or just a single one?

I had heard some debate on this topic, and I had always learned to use two spaces after a period. But it would seem there is an argument against it. However, I do not understand what the issue is ...
25
votes
11answers
76k views

Should I indent the first line of the first paragraph in a chapter?

I was reading a thesis report of a friend and I noticed that he didn't indent the first line of the first paragraph in each chapter. I don't remember noticing it anywhere before until I saw it there ...
23
votes
9answers
36k views

What's the best way to show a foreign language in a manuscript?

What's the best way to show a character speaking a foreign language in a fiction manuscript? Should the foreign words be italicized and include a translation? Should it just be included in the ...
22
votes
6answers
4k views

Using font to highlight a god's speech in dialogue

At one point in my story, the characters are addressed by a god. In the ensuing dialogue, this god has a more archaic way of speaking, but even so, I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to visually ...
20
votes
10answers
7k views

Do 'text walls' scare off readers?

A comment on a recent question of mine claims Right, so that's [large unformatted text blocks scaring off some readers in certain contexts is] a myth. This is how I know: Harry Potter. Big long ...
20
votes
8answers
5k views

How do you mix dialogue with actions of a character?

I'm not talking about if it's right to go like: "See you later, Mom!" Sierra grabbed an apple and ran out of the front door. I'm more concerned with something I remember seeing but can't remember how ...
19
votes
4answers
21k views

From Markdown to .odt and vice-versa: a possible distraction-free writing workflow?

I'm writing a master thesis (Sociology) and I'm really penalized by distractions. I would happily shift to a markdown full-screen environment but I wrote an half of the thesis in .odt via LibreOffice, ...
19
votes
5answers
11k views

Writing a programming book: how to present directory structures

What is good/preferred way of presenting directory trees in programming books? My main criteria are following: It should be readable and intuitive It shouldn't take too much page space It shouldn'...
18
votes
7answers
2k views

Indicating multiple different modes of speech (fantasy language or telepathy)

All the viewpoint characters in my story are orcs and speak Orcish as their native tongue, but some are bilingual: they use English to talk to humans. Additionally, the main character has a magic ...
17
votes
3answers
14k views

Do you bold punctuation directly after bold text?

Do you bold punctuation directly after bold, linked or italic text?
16
votes
4answers
9k views

How does one include sign language in a dialogue?

If one character is using sign language and lip reading while the other is speaking normally, how do you represent the lines of the former? Quotations with "he signed" attribution or italics? E.g. "...
15
votes
3answers
30 views

How to make documentation accessible to vision-impaired audiences?

Nowadays, governments and corporations alike are putting an ever-increasing number of accessibility laws in place to ensure that disabled audiences are not put at a disadvantage. How can technical ...
14
votes
8answers
6k views

How should I break up chapters in a novel?

Is it acceptable to pace my chapters in terms of an event? Can I get away with a 4 page chapter here, and a 30 page chapter there? Are there any reason why I should or should not be sticking to a ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

In end user documentation, should screenshots come before or after the text that references them?

The end user documentation I'm writing makes use of screenshots (and partial screenshots) to show the user what I'm referring to in procedural instructions or conceptual explanations of the software. ...
14
votes
4answers
580 views

Best e-book formatting process?

The question I would like to ask is this: does anyone else have their own process (or one borrowed from elsewhere) that they use for formatting and then creating their e-books? Are you using other ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

How to display a duet in lyrics?

I wonder if someone can tell me whether there is a convention when laying out a lyric to show different parts (or even a chorus). In my novel, there are a number of poems and lyrics. They are set in ...
13
votes
2answers
9k views

When should one use a section sign (§)?

When I asked this on English.SE, the question was closed; it was suggested that I ask on Writers.SE instead. To be clear, I mean the section sign § (utf-8: 0xC2 0xA7), which is available via \S in ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

When should a chapter end?

When writing a novel, when should I end a chapter? Note that I'm not talking about chapter word-count (that topic was discussed here). I'm interested to know when should I end my chapters ...
12
votes
8answers
56 views

What are standard techniques that indicate to the documentation reader that they are to substitute their own appropriate text (e.g. username, domain)?

When reading manuals or guides, I can easily get confused between what is meant to be example text, and what is actually meant to be used. For example, sometimes the username to login to use a ...
12
votes
4answers
60k views

How many pages would my manuscript be in paperback?

Say I have a 100 page manuscript in Courier, 11pt, double-spaced. How many paperback pages is this roughly equivalent to? Is there a better font/spacing to use?
12
votes
8answers
3k views

Very simple markup language for writing fiction

I'm using a plain text editor (Vim) to write a fiction piece (chapter book), and I'm wondering what markup languages others use for such a task? I'm looking for something exceedingly simple, it does ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

How should dialog be formatted?

Is there any "official" rule that I should keep in mind when formatting character dialog? Line breaks, placement of quotes, mixing dialog with action descriptions etc. For example, I want to build a ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Should I start a new paragraph after a dialogue if the action is being taken by a new person?

I am currently editing an original work of fiction, and one of the things I'm having the most trouble with is dialogue and paragraphs after certain character's actions. I know it sounds a little ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

How does one present spoken dialogue as a secondary language to signed speech?

I was starting to leave a comment on this excellent question when I realized I had come up with a second question which was equally intriguing. If you're writing a story where 95% of the ...
10
votes
5answers
21k views

What's the indent rule of poetry?

I've seen people indent their poems like below: Writing on wall It was just plane writing on wall I must have taken it a serious call She was on and off repeating same thing There was ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

When should I use punctuation with bullets?

When writing bulleted items, what are the rules for placing periods? Presumably bulleted items that aren't sentences wouldn't require punctuation: Orange Apple Banana But how about sentence bullets? ...
10
votes
5answers
67k views

What is the proper way to write time in a manuscript?

I haven't been able to find an answer to this question for a while now. What is the proper way to write time in a manuscript? I'm referring mostly to A.M. and P.M. Should it be written in caps? With ...
10
votes
2answers
438 views

What is generally the accepted format style for telepathic communication in the midst of verbal communication?

At this point in my story, it's already been revealed that 2 characters share a telepathic link with one another that allows them to communicate to each other with their minds. "Now before we get ...
9
votes
8answers
4k views

Why are the paragraphs of a document often indented and not vertically separated?

A quick side by side comparison of two layout styles: Left: no indent and with white space; right: indented, but no white space Recently, I'm seeing more and more academic-like documents which are ...
9
votes
6answers
3k views

Are there any established rules for splitting books into parts, chapters, sections etc?

I am working with an author, whose approach is to write her text, approximately divided by indicators where she wants the breaks to be, with the idea that later she and I would improve the breaks and ...
9
votes
3answers
791 views

Should I use a series of shots for this scene?

Should I use a series of shots for this? (context- Joe previously raged in his room - knocking things over) INT. JOE’S ROOM Joe stands up the nightstand. Plugs in the lamp. Takes the alarm clock, ...
9
votes
9answers
15k views

Adding breaks in a novel—spaces, asterisks, or a chapter break?

I am editing my first novel and wherever I find a natural break in the story, I add a few spaces. I want to go back and adjust what types of breaks those are, but how best to represent those spaces in ...
9
votes
2answers
799 views

How would you write the dialogues of two characters talking in a chat room?

How would you write do the dialogues of two characters talking in a chat room? I am seriously wondering about the format. Should it look like regular dialogues, what about emoticons like OWO and ;) ...
9
votes
1answer
163 views

What is the name of the technique where quotation marks are not closed but reopened to indicate a break in speech

The wizard slid the application over to the goblin. "I'm afraid, Mister Barnes, we cannot accept your letter of resignation at present. You are simply too ugly to qualify for an exit scheme, and ...
9
votes
3answers
10k views

What's the best practice for displaying a personal website url in a resume?

Like most veteran coders in the IT industry, I have an out-of-date website that I use to link to different activities I'm involved with online, like Twitter and Stack Overflow. Up until now, I haven't ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Background speech with foreground dialogue

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an issue of the type; meaning I had two characters talking between themselves and another character talking in the background; actually delivering a speech. What the ...
9
votes
2answers
98 views

Is there a definition for formatting plain text documents like they are on TLDP.org?

Is there a formal specification for authoring plain text documents like they (mostly) are on http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/text/? If so, what is it called? Where is it documented? I'm looking for a ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Overuse of bullet points

I collaborate with someone who insists on making every sentence (or two) in a business document into a bullet point, by prefacing it with a bullet. This is typically done across a multi-page document,...
9
votes
2answers
630 views

Why are license agreements, disclaiming letters and others written with capital letters?

We know that reading sentences with capital letters is hard. I noticed that some documents are still written with capital letters. Why are license agreements, disclaiming letters and others written ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the poetry/quotes at the start of a chapter/book called?

For instance, "A Rasin in the Sun" starts with the poem "Harlem." I've noticed many (mostly contemporary) novels will start chapters with pieces of Poetry or quotes that are completely separate from ...
8
votes
3answers
544 views

Converting ms-word to ebook vs. writing from scratch?

Can anyone, who has any experience with writing ebooks, recommend a way for me to proceed? I have a book in Microsoft Word heavy on mathematics: formulas (inline), equations (numbered) and diagrams. ...
8
votes
4answers
704 views

Do any ePublishing systems honor fixed poetry formatting?

As per this article in the Huffington Post, the Kindle discards many kinds of poem formatting. I use a lot of white space, couplets, triplets, and long lines that cannot break. The Kindle wraps text ...
8
votes
1answer
146 views

Show outline or table of content using presets in Scrivener?

Google Docs has this neat feature, where an outline is generated based on the text you've set to a specific style, such as title or heading: Word has a similar feature. Is there a way to generate an ...
8
votes
2answers
967 views

How can I prevent, or work around, unfortunate hyphenation in critical words?

In technical documentation, sometimes the tool's automatic hyphenation makes a bad break in the middle of a term, like the name of an environment variable or function. In these cases I would rather ...
7
votes
9answers
912 views

How to format common words that are made “special”?

In my novel, there's something that the characters refer to as "darkness". It symbolizes the bad thoughts of depressed/suicidal people. A short silence. I imagined Joel nodding his head in the dark....
7
votes
7answers
2k views

Do writers copy other writers?

Good artists copy; great artists steal. This famous Picasso quote often reminds me that the best artworks are rather a mix of many other artworks instead of something completely new. Walt Disney ...
7
votes
4answers
310 views

What's a clear way to simulate web text in a story?

My novel includes excerpts of things like text from websites, tweets, and internet chats. I'm using Courier for the main novel font. Does switching to a san serif font make sense to represent the web ...
7
votes
2answers
403 views

Page count conversion from single to double-space for submissions

When an agent/publisher limits manuscript submissions to your first 50 pages, and goes on to say it should be double-spaced as an attachment, does that mean your first 50 pages from your single-spaced ...
7
votes
5answers
12k views

What are the advantages of different date formats in resumes and CVs?

I've seen a somewhat related question, but it doesn't answer my question quite right. Say you're writing an event that happened on a single day, and you need to put it in your resume or CV. So how ...