Here’s a question – all about style

I’m busy formatting a book.

It’s not something most people think about unless they are a writer or a publisher – and here’s the thing – STYLES CHANGE!  WP_20150922_11_25_22_Pro

I read only yesterday that the guide to use when formatting a book should be the Chicago Manual of Style (which is a paid-for online service) self designated as ‘recommendations on editorial style and publishing practices for the digital age’.

‘Recommendations’ … a style guru for the digital age of publishing that seems to be trying to be the go-to and one and only way to set-up a book.

Today I went to my book shelves and picked up a couple of books, one published in 1998 and one in 2012. What did I find?

The style of speech-marks – 1998 — all doubles “…”   –  the 2012  — all singles ‘…’ .  I did wonder if it was just the ‘House’ style – as the old book was Penguin and the new was Orion.

Not at all, I found a new Penguin on my shelf and that also had single speech-marks. WP_20150922_11_21_56_ProWP_20150922_11_18_51_Pro



(click on any picture to enlarge)
Then there is the ‘one gap after a full-stop (period) or two?’  This has just about reached the final stage – two seems to have been dropped – though you will still find people citing that it should be used in manuscripts. (Often difficult to tell – as the full-justification of pages evens out all the spaces making it look like two sometimes)

So publishing style is mutable and does mutate over time – and I, for one, am wondering why the idea that all speech should be indented still hangs on. I think, as a reader, that I am perfectly capable of reading the speech-marks and that, alone, telling me that someone is speaking.  I even find some novels with a lot of speech – all indented – annoying to read / look at. Especially the convention that has a line beginning indented but not with speech-marks … because a piece of speech is coming up. NOW that just looks like it is a new paragraph to begin with – and can actually be confusing when the speakers are in a full-flow conversation!

from Some Kind of Synchrony

To Indent or not to Indent – that is the question
so … I’m doing something different – I’m missing these speech-indents out on my formatting. What do you think – does this make my books weird or just ahead of the game?

What are your thoughts on this?

Looking forward to your feedback.

Do share – you know I love to hear from you …


6 thoughts on “Here’s a question – all about style

  1. I too have found the dropping of the two-spaces after a full-stop annoying. Old habits die hard and I still continue with the way I was taught.
    “Speach Marks” for me, has to be the doubles.

    • Ah Me! But Lynda – we were both taught a long while back .. things do change (for better or worse).
      However, I am with you in that those lesson once learned do not leave easily, so when writing we will always tend towards what we were taught and expect to see it too. Thanks for talking the time to comment 🙂 always very welcome!Ann

  2. I suppose that in years to come, LOL and L8R will be the “proper” way to write. My feeling is that since language and formatting are for ever evolving, then the thing to do is what you yourself feel comfortable with, or what is easier to read. It isn’t as if you can be wrong, just either behind the times, or a trendsetter!

    But still put two spaces at the end of a sentence 🙂

    • LOL and L8R ? Hmmm. Not so sure about the l8r – but when everyone from the prime-minister down uses LOL (whether they understand exactly what it means or not – lol) I suspect you might be right on that one!(and with smart phones it actually takes longer to write L8R than it does to start the word later – see it pop up and hit it)
      As for the two spaces after a full-stop – you might have lost on that already judging by some of the books I have read lately. No way were there two spaces between sentences in some cases – though with the justification, there did appear to be in others on the same page!
      Thanks for the great comment – Ann

  3. This may be digressing a little but the one thing that seems to be ‘ok’ in books now is the phrase’try and…’ surely it should be try to…’ Shouldn’t it???

    • Hi Nicky,
      Formally – yes, you are right, it should be ‘try to’ but, colloquially, it is often said as ‘try and’ therefore in casual writing – or writing where someone is talking – you may find this frequently. The way things go, however, means that the more often it is seen and rendered as ‘try and’ the more likely it is to become an accepted alternative in the long-run. This is the bane and the wonder of English – it is mutable. Good point – thanks Ann

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