1. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    Speech marks, and the period.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Grumps, Oct 14, 2008.

    I'm not sure if this is the correct place to post, but here goes.

    When submitting/formatting a manuscript, is dialog supposed to be enclosed within single ' or double " quotes? I write in MS Word using double quotes. They are easy to change to singles, but changing singles into doubles would be a bit harder.

    Does a period always have two blank spaces after it? I seem to remember reading that in an ms formatting thread somewhere.

    And are either of these different in the US or UK?

    Thanks.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the us it's double for quotes, single for a quote within a quote... in the uk, rule may be reversed...

    ...i still use the double, though many now use a single... imo, the double makes it easier to read for readers and editors, who have to slog through mss all day, every day...

    see above for dialog... spacing is the same on either side of the pond...
     
  3. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    Nope, I'm sure the UK use the same rules as the US for this.
     
  4. Scarlett_156
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    Scarlett_156 Active Member

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    As I understand your question, you're asking about formatting for submission to an agent or publisher.

    Therefore:

    It is not important whether you choose to put two spaces after a period (..and so they finished.(period, space, space, on to the next sentence) or one (..and so they finished.(period, space, on to the next sentence). This applies to colons or any other type of full stop punctuation (colon, question mark). This does not apply to the semicolon or comma. There's always one space after either of those.

    Many people tend to mis-punctuate things with quotes. I know the standard for scholarly text is different from country to country, but when I am reading an actual printed book or newspaper, the punctuation is in each case the same, leading me to believe that there is a worldwide standard for publication that is outside of cultural convention. (We're talking about English here--you know that, right?)

    So here are some examples of correct punctuation as it regards the quote:

    "My word!" exclaimed Baskerville. "That was some hound!"

    "If you really want to know," Baskerville said with a leer, "the hound was really me playing a game with my wife."

    "Were you really just playing a game with your wife?" the groom asked, his expression frightened.

    "If you were just playing a game with your wife," asked the stableboy, "then why was she still at home? And who was that person dressed up like a dog?"

    If you check with some of your favorite books and magazines, you'll see that this is correct punctutation/capitalization when it comes to English writing.

    Examples of incorrect punctuation/capitalization are, but are not limited to:

    "My word!" Said Baskerville with a leer. "the hound was really me playing a game with my wife."

    "Were you really just playing a game with your wife," The groom asked. His expression frightened.

    'If you were just playing a game with your wife' asked the stableboy. 'then why was she still at home and who was that person dressed up like a dog'?


    (and so on)

    -----------

    If you are submitting work for publication, then you have to make sure to follow the same conventions that publisher follows.

    With every publisher or agent, there is going to be a set of guidelines for submission of work--and if you don't follow those guidelines, they will not read your work; they will in fact toss it.

    One way to familiarize yourself with a publisher's standards with regard to new submissions is to visit that publisher's website--there is usually a page devoted to new submissions somewhere. (Isn't the internet wonderful...?) Also, of course--and this pretty much goes without saying--you will have read things published by that particular publisher, and familiarized yourself with how that publisher likes to set things up. I hope this was helpful! Have fun!

    yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Double quotes for the outer is the US rule, but it is also generally accepted in the UK. (I have looked at writing guides for a UK readership).

    Check my blog entry: He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue for more on dialogue punctuation.
     
  6. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    I'm glad someone posted about this! I was thinking the same thing. I've always used the " for speech/dialogue but have proofed a few manuscripts for friends that have ' instead.

    It seems logically right to me - after all there's only a limited amount you can do with a " ! :p
     
  7. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies.
     

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