Emails, tweets, texts …

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Emails, texts, tweets and status updates. They are everywhere in our lives and so, increasingly, they are finding their way into novels.

But exactly how do you show this emails, texts, tweets and the like in your own writing?

Well, it depends! There is no one answer except to say you need to be consistent.

Along with consistency across your manuscript, it’s really important to remember to be consistent with the communication type you are using. If you’re using a tweet, is it within the allowed number of characters?

Here are some options that you might like to consider when it comes to formatting these new communication methods in your text.

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Use another font.

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You might choose to use a different font for these messages. A change from, say, Times New Roman to Arial might be enough to signal to your readers that a screen-based message is being used. Remember to let your typesetter know – if you’re using one to self-publish your book – if not, make sure your proofreader knows!

Use another font.

For short messages, like texts, tweets or status updates, you might like to consider changing the formatting of the text. It could be that you centre the text on the page. Again, remember to let the other professionals working with you that this is how you will be formatting your messages.

Use quote marks or italics.

Careful with this one as it’s easily confused with dialogue or internal thoughts. Make it clear that the message, in quote marks or italics, is clearly labelled and signposted as electronic messages.

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Use the conventions of the communication.

This is great, especially if your story is reliant on communication methods such as email. We recognise the familiar conventions of CC and, which could provide an interesting plot device the BCC!

Use a combination of the above.

Whichever you choose, the crucial thing is to maintain consistency. To do this, I’d recommend heading over to my resources for writers page and downloading the free style sheet. And, of course, don’t forget to tell your editor or proofreader how you are dealing with texts, tweets and emails, they are experts at making sure you are consistent.

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Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Fiction editor and proofreader.

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