Bestselling authorFive Formatting Tips

Sometimes, all it takes to make your article, essay, or story an easy and fun read is some simple reformatting. Too many characters on a page can easily overwhelm the reader, but too few characters or characters oddly spaced can be a problem as well. To keep your audience reading, follow these five tips:

Break up long paragraphs. General rules state that a paragraph should be about three to five sentences long, but the exact number will depend on your writing style. Longer sentences typically mean fewer sentences per paragraph, and shorter sentences sometimes mean you can fit seven or eight in a paragraph. To figure out which paragraphs are too long, read over your piece for flow and watch for the places where you grow tired or confused. That’s usually where you need to break things up a bit more.

Start a new paragraph with each piece of dialogue. You should start a new paragraph each time a different character speaks. It makes the conversation flow naturally, as if it were being heard. It also creates extra white space on the page, which makes the eye move quickly down the page and increases the readability of the piece.

Use a single space after a period or colon. Once upon a time, two spaces after a period or colon was de rigueur, but now they only distract the reader from the story. (They also go against most formal stylebooks.) Use single spaces only.

Use single space formatting unless otherwise specified. Most publications prefer single spaced paragraphs. The only time you should double space your paragraphs is if the publication’s formatting specifications require you to do so.

Check margin requirements. If you’re submitting your piece to a particular magazine or publisher, such as Absolute Love Publishing, double check the manuscript formatting requirements to make sure your margins are set accordingly. Failure to do so may get your piece tossed before it’s given a chance. (For the record, we prefer one-inch margins.)

When you are ready to share your message with the world, submit your writing to Absolute Love Publishing.