Manuscript layout tips – Patrice Shaw’s ponderings on the written word.

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Patrice Shaw’s ponderings on the written word – Manuscript layout tips

 Manuscript layout tips

To save your editor and/or desktop publisher time and you money, consider these tips about manuscript layout before you begin the editing process.

1. Quotation marks – make sure there is consistency with the use of either single or double quotation marks throughout the manuscript. The current trend is to use single marks, reserving double quotation marks for quotations within quotations. For example, ‘Children,’ said the teacher, ‘when I say “go” please walk as quickly as you can to the playground.’

2. Australian versus American spelling – I prefer to use Australian spelling but many words with American spelling are creeping into everyday use, e.g. words ending with ise v ize. The key is to be consistent.

3. For scene/transition breaks within chapters, I suggest you use a recurring symbol such as *** on the line after and before the break. Authors commonly use a double hard return which can be confusing for an editor. It’s not always clear whether these are intentional or an error. The asterisks can always be changed later.

4. If you decide on something, stick to it. For example, be consistent about the choice of a character’s name or the spelling of a place. If you decided to change it later, it is simple to make a global change in your word processing program.

5. Double spacing after a full stop is out. Once, this practice was used when there was not enough space between letters and punctuation. Modern computers adjust space automatically.

6. Never use the Tabs function when laying out your manuscript as these often have to be removed one at a time by the designer or desktop publisher. Use the indent feature instead, especially for new paragraphs, so your editor knows when you want a new paragraph to begin.

7. Don’t forget to number your pages.

Happy writing,
Patrice Shaw

PS Editing and Proofreading

P: 07 3202 8024

M: 0405 321 902


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