detailed editing

Manuscript Spacing Style

I recently came across a post insisting that authors submitting manuscripts should use one space between sentences.   The post incorrectly stated that APA style uses the one-space rule.  APA-style has returned to the two-space rule, citing readability. 

As a publisher and an APA-style editor, I insist on following APA’s two-space guideline. However, editors and publishers do not always edit in APA-style.  I have edited for other publishing houses.  When publishing houses employ a specific style rule, it is helpful when their style guidelines are accessible so that the rules are clear so that they can be adhered to at the beginning of the editing process. Style consistency throughout a publication is the imperative editor’s rule.  I have yet to see a submitted manuscript without spacing consistency errors.  Some of the spacing differences are a result of accidental employment of fixed spacing instead of proportional spacing and it is not on a writer’s radar to notice the difference.  My first actions as an editor is to fix all types of spacing inconsistencies in a manuscript.    

Without knowing a publication’s sentence style preference, I always employ the two-space rule.  It is a simple global-change editing process to modify a two-space styled document so that it adheres to the one-space rule and this process can be easily accomplished in either editing or layup software. 

I strongly feel that discussion of either one or two spaces between sentences is mute.  A good story will not come down to either a pro or con about too much space following certain punctuations.

As an editor, I wish authors were more aware about appropriate use of headings, tabs, and manual line breaks.  Accurate use of headings organizes a manuscript to ease the task of manuscript content editing; the use of tabs instead of spaces saves an author time; and the use of manual line breaks (shift+enter) for stanza lines is particularly important for poetry writers so they can control stanza breaks over pages.

Submitted poetry manuscripts rarely have consistent stanza breaks that layup editors are after.  Hence, running scripts to ensure that type of spacing consistency is another first-line action that I take as an editor.

Worrying about spacing issues instead of content accuracy and clarity is not something that I want any author to be burdened with.  A good layup editor will check and easily adjust any submitted manuscript to suit the publisher’s style.  A good publisher will outline their style preferences and inform their editors.  If a publisher does their own editing, it is a case of documenting style choice so that there is style consistency throughout their publication line enhancing the marketing of their publishing brand.  I simply do not believe that it is the task of an author to make layup style adjustments to suit each publisher.  Writing style, word choices, accurate research, and attending to sentence, paragraph, and chapter structures should remain the focus of the author.  




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