Formatting tips

We’re only a couple of days into the Campaign for Real Fear and we’ve already received a number of strong contenders for the top ten positions. Keep the submissions coming!

Just a note on formatting. Thus far the submissions have been sticking to our required format as detailed in the FAQ: copy and paste the text of the story into the body of your email submission, and indicate italics _like this_ and bold *in this fashion*. Thank you all!

Smart quotes = failExcept… a reminder that most word processing software use smart quotes (curly quotes) as the default option. They also use special characters to indicate ellipses and em dashes. So, when you copy those characters into an email, and they are sent to us via your email programm, they can turn up in our inbox as text with strange characters in them. It doesn’t render the story incomprehensible, but it makes it much harder to read.

The solution is to go into your word processor options (it’s usually under AutoCorrect) and disable the feature that exchanges straight quotes for smart quotes, renders a double hyphen as an em dash, and replaces three full stops with an ellipsis. These flourishes might look good on the page, but special characters are the bane of anyone who has to deal with copying and pasting text.

Most writers would be well advised to stop using these features. The first thing I do when I have to reinstall a word processor program is uncheck those functions.

You’ll certainly make our life easier if you could avoid sending us those hidden typographic mines.

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  1. It’s a shame that the solution to broken email clients is to hamstring your word processor, but I suppose pragmatism has to take precedence over idealism.

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