FICTION typesetting/layout question

This one stumped me. I wanted to see if anyone could cite an unspoken but “official” rule.


I have a fairly long passage (4,600 words) intended to be a character’s journal entry. It needs to appear as one section (it’s not convenient or practical to intersperse chunks in the rest of the narrative). I’m separating it off into its own chapter, but I was wondering what the conventions for offset margins/paragraphs and italics are in this situation.


It currently has normal indents, margins, and paragraphs but is italicized and in quote marks (as if being read aloud).


If there’s a way to make this section look tidy(ish) on paper, I’d love to know.


(And yes, I fully expect someone to do the "just trim it down to size" joke Smiley Wink)


  • I am not fully sure what you mean.


    You can of course create a Word Section just for that and format it how you see fit.

  • True. I'm probably splitting hairs anyway.


    Rough example (sorry if this sounds incredibly patronizing, because I'm sure you know this): several research/nonfiction formatting styles (MLA, Chicago, etc.) have clear procedures for indenting/offsetting block quotes within essays/articles. I was just wondering if there was some equivalent universal guideline for fiction (probably not!), or even if a certain stylebook (and therefore a certain rule) is more standard than others among publishers. Either way, it seemed a little sticky in the case of a whole chapter consisting of the fiction version of a giant block quote. (This is a pure typography/formatting issue)


  • Just look in many random books. I am still not sure what you mean unless you want it to look handwritten or something.

  • Just indent .3, margins .5 all around, gutter .3. justified left and right.

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  • Will do. As usual, I'm probably overthinking small details and should just go with the gut.

    Nope, I didn't mean a font choice/handwriting trick. I just wanted to make it absolutely clear to readers that although the content is important to the plot, it's a different style/mode and doesn't push the plot along in the same ways that immediate character interactions do (translation: no exciting action bits). You can always argue that context alone should be enough for that if it's done halfway decently, but I wondered if changing the formatting on the page would make it even clearer at a glance.

    I don't know about the rest of the world, but this kind of distinction does actually matter to *me* when I'm reading books because such breakaway passages often mean a different writing style or level of depth and therefore call for a different amount of concentration. If it's a more cerebral chunk (and I can have an easy visual hint at the outset, such as different page formatting), I might leave it for another day when I can fully commit to it and actually glean whatever details are important to glean from it. Switching fonts is an easy way out, but it seems rather showy to do that outside of the YA world.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Possibly one way would be to create a new Section and set the text only for that one to Left Justify.

  • Ah! Interesting choice (and not something I'd considered). Thanks, I'll keep that one in mind.

  • If you are presenting the text in its own chapter, you could just make its nature clear with a simple heading. Something like "Excerpt from Albert Character's Journal" for instance. 



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