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Shunn / Format / 5
To emphasize a specific word or phrase in your manuscript, do so with italics. It used to be the practice to underline for emphasis, but that’s because there was no option for italics on most typewriters. Some publications may still prefer to see underlining since it stands out a little better on a screen, but those would be the minority. Consult submission guidelines if there’s any doubt, and choose italics in the absence of other instructions. If you want to indicate an em dash--the punctuation that sets off this phrase--simply type two hyphens. Most word processors will convert the two hyphens to a dash automatically. (Courier users might want to turn off this particular feature of autocorrect, since in monospaced fonts a dash is difficult to distinguish from a lone hyphen.) There’s no need to put spaces around the dash. “A lot of people ask me about dialog,” I told an editor friend of mine recently. “Do you have any suggestions?” “Dialog should be enclosed in quotation marks,” she said. “Some writers get away with doing it differently, but they’re rare exceptions.” “Isn’t it also the usual practice to start a new paragraph when the speaker changes?” I asked. “Yes, it is. That helps the reader keep track of who’s speaking even when speech tags are omitted.” Speaking of which, you should have the “smart quotes” feature turned on in your word processor. This converts double
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Last updated 17 March 2020


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