1. Gottagocit
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    Gottagocit Member

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    When trying to introduce the content of a letter......?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Gottagocit, Feb 22, 2011.

    What is the proper way to communicate the contents of a letter to the reader when it's not beng read by a character?

    For example a general in the field looks down to read his new orders from headquarters.

    “Confiscate all resources in way of supplies, equipment and manpower required to...."

    Quotes?
    Italics?
    Both?
    Neither?

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  2. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it is not being read out, just set it out as a letter - address, date etc. The reader will read it as a letter.

    No need for italics or quotation marks.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it should be a block insert [indented on both sides]...

    does not need either "" or italics...
     
  4. Gottagocit
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    Gottagocit Member

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    Thanks for the help!

    What about diary entrie? Should they be in the same format?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes...
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't put it as strongly as "should" -- I think Trilby's suggestion would be fine too (and they could be combined). But yes, that way is good.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    trilby's suggestion would have to be inserted the way i mentioned, so it's not an 'either/or'...
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did say they could be combined. But I've seen cases where it's not been indented: the salutation and valediction frame the letter anyway.
     
  9. Gottagocit
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    Gottagocit Member

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    Thanks everyone for the replies.

    Chris
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how you see it done in a book is not necessarily how one should do it in the ms... and in the ms, block indent is expected, to more easily distinguish inserted material from story text...
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    But it IS story text - it's all a part of the story. It's not like they found another letter someone else had written and just copied it out.
     
  12. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi! Mellzaar

    I'm not sure what you are trying to say - do you mean that because it is part of the text, that it shouldn't be copied out in the form of a letter? If that is your meaning then I would have to disagree.

    For simplicity and clarity, then to write the letter out in its correct format there will be no ambiguity. It also cuts waffle in the text explaining that it is the contents of letter that is being referred to.
     
  13. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am saying it should be in the form of a letter, but I don't get why it has to be separated out and given special treatment as if it were some sort of alien entity in the manuscript. I'd just present it as a new scene (er, double line break, I mean), with an address and "dear Whoever" at the top. Maybe indent it if it was a short note, but only because that looks better. If it was a longer letter, you know, like, Mr Darcy's letter to Elizabeth midway through the novel, that thing was at least 10 pages... Reading it indented would drive me nuts. I'm pretty sure whatever edition I read it simply led on formatted exactly like the rest of the novel, aside from the fact it had some sort of "To my darling Lizzy" at the top. :p
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in books, such things are almost always done as block indents... if you don't do that, it's confusing to the reader, since it will look like narrative...
     
  15. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    It won't if they pay attention to what they're reading and use their brain....
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    uh, that's kind of the point... most folks don't do either...
     
  17. Gottagocit
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    Gottagocit Member

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    The original reason behind the question was my use of a handful of short excerpts from orders or messages between Lincoln and a particular general in the field during the US civil war. Later I also have a few quotes from a diary I've used to convey important info about the story. In both instances the notes/messages are short.

    I'd rather not use the formal and typical to/from letter in either instance and believe I'll use the block indent method. It should work well I think.

    Thanks again
    Chris
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds to me like it's your best option... setting off the excerpts in block indents will give them the impact/importance that's called for, in addition to an effective appearance of authenticity...
     

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