Something went wrong (formatting)

Something went wrong (formatting)

Gods almighty. It’s 2024, and formatting novels is still a pain in the backside. 😠

It’s not like we novelists ask for much. I mean, when it comes to formatting the text in our novels, we tend to err on the conservative side.

Roman text? — Brilliant!
Italic text? — Yeah, sure. Lovely.
Bold text? — Eh, no. Preferably not.
Underlined text? — Hell, no.
Strikethrough? — Are you nuts?
Monospace fonts? — Only in exceptional cases.
Small caps? — Ooh, classy!
Subscript or superscript? — WTF?
Highlighted text? — Aaarghhh.
Colored text? — Only if you write The Neverending Story.

When it comes to formatting, novelists are conservatives. That’s why, in my novel, I used a Monospace font for a small number of electronic messages and Small caps for telepathic thoughts projected into someone’s mind. I styled everything else in either Roman or italics.

Direct thought: italics — Julien looked up. I wonder who that is?
Imagined dialogue: italics — The girl looked back as if to say, So what?
Recalled dialogue: italics in double quotes — “Miss Teena, I have no idea,” he’d said to her.
Texting: italics — Yeah, let’s do that, she sent back to him.
Electronic dialogue: italics in double quotes — “Thank you for calling, sir.
Sound effects: italics – Clack. Clack. Clack.
Printed headlines: italics in double quotes — “Explosions in IJ-tunnel
Printed signs and buttons: caps, italics — Submit
Written signs and labels: caps, italics — Daily Distress column
Artworks, book titles, video games: caps, italics — The Swindled Gods
Fantastical and non-English words: italics — grullborc, miso ramen
Dreaming thoughts less than a page long: italics

We novelists loooove italics.

Summarizing, my novel has only three font styles:

Electronic text: monospace — Ping. Are you there?
Telepathic thought: small caps — Hello, nice to be in your head.
Everything else: italics

Now, guess how happy I was when I learned Adobe InDesign lost all italics when importing my manuscript from Microsoft Word. Several days later, Atticus lost all small caps when importing the text for the E-book version.

Like, seriously?

My book designer spent several hours reapplying all italics throughout the print version of the novel, and I spent at least an hour reapplying all small caps in the E-book.

I suppose this was inevitable for a novel with the tagline, “Something went wrong.”

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Jurgen Appelo

"Ignore the first mover advantage. Aim for the fastest learner advantage."