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Need formatting tips


Myth Weaver
Okay, I got a lot of the general stuff out of the way with the links y'all referred me to. A few specific questions (I realize that the answers to these questions are quite subjective):

1. Most books have "Chapter Whatever" nearer the middle than the top. How many enters do you feel is appropriate to get it where you want it?

2. I've noticed a lot of ebooks separate scene by using blank lines. I don't like this because that blank line oft falls at the bottom of the page where it's unnoticeable. Anyone feel that the 3 asterisks are unprofessional in any way?

3. I've also noticed that most books do not indent the first line after a new scene and the one that starts a chapter. Any reason not to do it that way?




Article Team
1. There may be a standard for this, but I don't believe it is necessary as long as the blank space is the same across all chapters of your book. It doesn't have to be the same as in other books - the reader will get used to it soon enough.

2. I like that there's a bit of a blank after a scene. Usually if it falls at the bottom of a page there's a kind of scene break of some sort (the three asterisks) to indicate a scene ends and then I'm fine with it. If there were no indication of the break I'd find it annoying.

3. Can't think of any.


Felis amatus
For ebooks, I've read not to mine chapters titles or other text down with more than four hard returns, as it can make things look screwy on the readers. I prefer the blank line for scene shifts. As for indentations, I indent them both.


It seems that the non-indented-first-line is more widespread than an indented-first-line. My logic is that the first paragraph is that, the first paragraph, and all the following paragraphs are new paragraphs and the the indentation is used to mark it as new, so is technically it's not needed in the first paragraph, as it's not a new paragraph.

Personally I prefer the non-indented-first paragraph.

One more tip... I think you may need to untick the 'widow and orphan' box in word.


I don't like plain blank spaces as well, I like asterisms better. I also like flourished section breaks, heh, but I don't think it's a good idea for ebooks.

It's funny what you said about not indenting after a scene break, I didn't notice it before. Now, checking my books, some do this, some don't, using asterisms or not.

Unless it's some rule we missed, I would keep indenting if asterisms are being used, for I see no gain in doing otherwise. But if I would be using blank spaces, the lack of indenting will help to identify the scene transition.

Caged Maiden

Article Team
According to several "To submit your professional work to us..." sites, a single asterisk is very professional to differentiate scenes, (or the empty line), whereas two of those sources specifically asked to not do three. Weird, I WAS doing three before, because I recall seeing it in books.. but I've since, adopted the single asterisk... just in case.

Also, to get the titles into the middle of the page, I typically leave five spaces. I learned this on several "How to format your novel to submit" sites too. The title page, the chapter in the middle... it was all very interesting stuff I hadn't considered. But after a couple days of research, I realized there were some apparent industry standards, because they all ask for the same things. So yea, it's supposed to be (and I use) five blank lines, double-spaced for submission, but I don't know whether you're double-spacing for the text of the book.


Myth Weaver
OK, to summarize:

1. Steerpike says no more than 4 returns while Caged Maiden says the standard is 5. The 5, however, seems to be a standard for submitting manuscripts. Since I'm working on a finished product to be self published, maybe 4 makes sense?

2. I like some form of actual scene break rather than just a line. Even with the lack of indentation, I often miss it with just the spacing. Most ebooks seem to go with just the space, though, so it's hard to figure what the standard is if you want to use one. I think I've seen the three asterisks (straight instead of in the triangle formation) more commonly than a single one. I'm still leaning toward that method.

3. I have no idea where the "rule" came from. A couple of people have pointed out that I should be doing it, but, at the time, I didn't ask why. I do notice that it seems to be very common practice.