Module Nine: The House Style

Module Nine: The House Style

It is important to be consistent in the usage of punctuation, spelling and general format within the novel. This also applies to a publishing company. After discussion with our editors and proof-readers, we have formulated the following house style. If it is used consistently, it minimises the degree of editing which is needed.



  • Clear, definable chapters e.g. “Chapter 1”
  • Use a range of linear and non-linear structures.
  • Chapter headings:
  • 12 point and centered. Leave one space between the chapter heading and the first paragraph.
  • Start a chapter on a new page.


Section Changes:

  • Use * * * centered.



  • Format in Word, using the paragraph menu.
  • Indentation on first line at 0.5.
  • No indents before the first paragraph of a chapter/section.
  • No space between the end of the paragraph and the return.
  • No space between each paragraph.
  • Make as short as possible – less than one page of the e-book.
  • Begin all differently, a range with discourse markers.
  • A new paragraph for a new speaker, including the dialogue and the name tag which can be at the beginning or the end.



  • Use in lists – between items but omit before the ‘and’ at the end.
  • Where two or three adjectives independently modify a noun.
  • In parentheses – to introduce and end a phrase or clause inserted into a sentence, so the sentence will still make sense if the phrase is removed.
  • To separate subordinate clauses from the main clause.
  • To separate phrases.
  • Not to be used to separate main clauses linked with ‘but’ or ‘and’, except where there is more than one ‘and’ in a sentence, then use with biggest break.


Speech and Quotation Marks

  • In dialogue – some punctuation must be used to separate the dialogue from the narrative, usually a comma.
  • In quotations – use commas to separate from main text.
  • Use double marks around speech.
  • Single marks to quote within speech or for quotations in sentences.
  • Place sentence punctuation inside the speech marks.
  • Place sentence punctuation outside the quotation.
  • For paragraphs of direct speech – begin a new paragraph with speech marks but leave the closing speech marks until the end of the complete dialogue.



  • Use instead of commas for more emphasis.
  • To emphasise a pause, both in dialogue and narrative.
  • To add an afterthought.



  • Use to denote an unfinished sentence in narrative.
  • In quotations where only a few words are taken from a sentence.



  • Single spacing between each sentence.
  • Should not be too long.
  • Shorter sentences to be used for impact and to build suspense.
  • Longer sentences for description.
  • Use mostly complex sentences for the narrative.
  • Begin some with subordinate clauses.
  • Use a variety of connectives.
  • Rely on ‘and, but’ only when writing simplistically; e.g. for a child’s dialogue
  • Only use repetition three times for effect.



  • Use at the beginning of sentences.
  • For proper nouns.
  • For the first word spoken by each character.
  • Not to be used in pronoun referring to God, e.g. ‘he’ not ‘He’.



  • Use to introduce a list.



  • Use to separate sentences closely related in their ideas
  • To separate clauses.



  • Use for thoughts.
  • Use for words in a language other than the language of the book.



  • All numbers should be spelt in full.



  • Should be written in full.