Giveaway Signup

<== Click to join my mailing list and receive a free copy of my short story Crystal Servants. Learn about some of the major players in my novel Crystal King.

Adrian, a spy for the King, sees a nobleman murder a servant. His desire for truth is pitted against the dangers of a high-stakes political game. When his friend Draken insists on pursuing justice, Adrian must protect those he cares about as the political games of powerful men alter the lives of everyone around him.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Clean Formatting

There are plenty of posts out there on content editing, and how to polish words. That won't stop me from doing my own post on that some other time, but this time it's all about the low level formatting and things that can mess up the text layout. Here are some rules which will make your editor happy because they will have less cleanup work. If you do your own print layout, you can be happy with yourself instead.

Double spaces

Perform a search and replace of two spaces with one space. The only tricky bit here is that you will need to repeat it until it gives you zero matches found. This will remove all those pesky double spaces after periods, as well as those you add by accident in the middle of a sentence. Don't think you have any? Try a search in one of your works in progress and see what happens.

Space at the end of a paragraph

If you use Microsoft Word, this is where things start to get fun. You can put special characters into your search and replace. Use ^p to represent the carriage return at the end of your paragraph. This means you will search for "^p " and replace it with just "^p".  <= Note that I purposely put the period outside the quotes, breaking convention, just for clarity. Sometimes I'm just a rebel like that.

If you use a different editor, you'll have to look up how to enter special characters into your search and replace dialog. One panel at the Life, the Universe and Everything symposium for 2015 did a quick survey and it looked like about 50/50 between Word and Scrivener, with one odd outlier who, if I remember right, liked notepad.

Space at the start of a paragraph

Just like the last one, but this will get rid of accidental spaces at the beginning of a paragraph. These usually creep into your text when you decide to break one long paragraph into two. Search for " ^p" and replace with "^p".


Word also has a special character for tabs since you can't type the tab inside your search and replace dialog, but those are pretty easy to add to the dialog with cut and paste as well. Just replace every tab "^t" with nothing.


When you add an ellipsis, you should make sure that the space before it is a nonbreaking space. If it isn't, then you could get text where the ellipsis flows down to the start of a new line of text, which will look really goofy. Entering an ellipsis search is trickier. The easiest way I've found is to copy the ellipsis, paste it in with regular spaces, then use ^s for nonbreaking spaces in the replace portion.

If you turn on inline formatting, this is the difference between regular spaces and nonbreaking spaces. The nonberaking spaces look like little circles as shown in the second line.

If you prefer the long format that looks like this , , , then just replace all five spaces. The only thing to look out for is that your word spacing may look better if you use a regular space after the ellipsis. You shouldn't be too concerned about that that unless you're doing your own printing layout.

In summary

So there you go. Now you can use a set of simple searches to clean up things that could end up throwing off the final formatting of your document in print form.

No comments:

Post a Comment