Editing Guidelines

  1. One-inch margins on all sides. If you’re using a header and/or footer, those should be a half-inch from the edge.
  2. Use Times New Roman size 12 throughout the document.
  3. Line spacing should be double, with no extra spacing added before or after paragraphs.
  4. Use regular left alignment, not justified.
  5. Each paragraph should start with a half-inch indentation on the first line. Make this happen through your paragraph settings, not with actual tab characters or spaces.
  6. The first paragraph after a heading or section break should have no indentation. Also make sure your headings, section breaks, etc. don’t include any indentation.
  7. A section break should be a single centered hash mark with a blank line (unindented) before and after. Also include one of these at the end of the document (without a final blank line).
  8. Just include a single space between sentences, not two.
  9. No trailing spaces at the end of lines please.
  10. For ellipses, the sequence “. . .” is preferred over the triple-dot character or three periods in sequence. Include spaces before and after the ellipsis as needed (i.e., in most cases, but not at the start or end of a paragraph or quote). (If you want to be really on the ball, use non-breaking spaces to keep these sequences from breaking across multiple lines, but only do this if you can be 100% consistent with it.)
  11. For dashes, use an actual em-dash character (not a hyphen, double-hyphen, or en-dash) with no spaces around it.
  12. Use curly quotes and apostrophes. Base-level quotations should use double-quotes, and embedded quotations should use single-quotes.
  13. I hate to say it because I personally prefer the “logical quote style,” but keep final commas and periods inside the quote even if they don’t logically belong there. It’s just convention.
  14. Bold should be reserved for headings and rare occasions when special formatting is needed. Avoid it in regular paragraph text if possible.
  15. Don’t use caps or underlining for emphasis, just italics.
  16. If you have a word in a sentence that’s italicized, don’t also italicize the adjoining punctuation. However, if the entire sentence is italicized (as for a thought), then the punctuation should be included.
  17. Use the “Oxford comma” for sequences of three or more.
  18. Spell out the word “okay” instead of using the “OK” form. Both are in common use, but the former spelling is more convenient when the word is used as a verb, so it’s my preference.
  19. As a general rule, spell out all numbers up to a hundred, as well as any conveniently round numbers. However, consistency is key, so avoid mixing spelled-out numbers with numerals when you have two or more numbers in a list or parallel structure. Numerals can be used for both in this case. There are lots of rules on this topic, but this is the broad sweep.
  20. For initials in a name like “C. S. Lewis,” use periods and spaces between the initials. (This should really be a non-breaking thin space, but we can probably leave that up to the publisher.)
  21. Don’t forget to run a simple spelling/grammar check in your editor. Never follow the suggestions blindly, but they’re usually helpful. Try to stick to American spelling conventions.
  22. For anything not covered here, refer to William Shunn’s Modern Manuscript Format.