Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Justified? You betcha!

Perry McDaid sent an interesting query on formatting: Okay, so I hate justified layouts in novels where half words carry over to new lines and hyphens exist where they should not be. Consequently, I self-published something which looked okay (left side oriented) on the A4 draft.

Three points here - one a piece of advice from the damaged, then two questions.

1. Writers, for your own self-respect, check the layout AFTER you have changed to uploading format. It's amazing how a few polysyllables per line can leave your text looking like a bar chart with great wide open spaces down the right hand side.

2. What is the best orientation for a novel - Left or Justified?

3. Paragraphs - indent or space-line?

I’m sure many authors who intend to self-publish will be grateful for the advice you've given in point 1.

Now to answer the two questions.

Justified is the way to go. Left aligned in a book looks dreadful. In addition, justified is the industry standard. So, unless you want your books to look amateur, justify your text.

It is usual to format using double line spacing with indented paragraphs and no additional white lines in between unless it’s to signal a change of scene.

It used to be the rule that opening paragraphs (including those signalling a change of scene) wouldn’t be indented, but it seems many publishers (including my own) no longer follow this rule, so this one is up to you, but be consistent throughout the document.

Each new line of dialogue should be indented.

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DW Rob said...

Dunno whether this will get through, Lo, cos I'm having broadband problems, but just a note to the wise. Even if you prepare left aligned, as I do, there are certain e-book builders which will change the format to full justification during preparation. I use Calibre and Mobipocket, and both end up fully justified when they're complete.

Lorraine Mace said...

Thanks for this, David. Very useful information.