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.
- 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.