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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1666647
by Jeff
Rated: E · Article · How-To/Advice · #1666647
A comparison of good and poor WDC formatting.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The formatting of this article is intentional. If you find it difficult or cumbersome to read, there is a re-formatted version provided below.


--- < ^ > ---



         Let's talk a little bit about formatting, shall we? I know, it's a terribly exciting subject. *Rolleyes*
         The thing is, the way you present your work can have just as much as an impact on your reader as your characters, dialogue, story, and writing style. Presentation is the first thing that catches a reader's attention and while good formatting is often quickly dismissed, bad formatting is not. Bad formatting can ruin your audience's reading experience by drawing attention away from the content of the work and refocusing it on the context which it's being presented. To be clear, I'm not talking about proper spelling, grammar and punctuation; I'm talking about the way the work looks on the page (or the screen, in the case of Writing.Com). The great thing about Writing.Com is that there are an abundance of tools - mostly in the form of WritingML coding - that can help you create a piece of writing with a successful presentation that enhances your audience's reading experience. Some things to consider:
         Paragraph spacing. Since WDC doesn't have the ability to automatically double-space a document, there really needs to be a space between the paragraphs themselves, to break the text up a little bit. White space on the page is just as important as the text; you need a certain amount of it to avoid reader fatigue. If you write your stories inside a WDC text box, there's really no reason to not hit "Enter" an extra time after every paragraph. If you write your stories on a word processor, you can write like you'd want it to appear on WDC: single spaced with a blank line between paragraphs. If you write your stories on a word processor in double-spaced manuscript format, there's even a handy check box at the bottom of the Static Item edit page that says, "Double Space Paragraphs" and will translate those single-carriage returns in your word processor document into WDC-friendly double-spacing between paragraphs. Even if you have to go into your document and manually add an extra space between each paragraph, it's a quick fix that improves the visual appeal of your items by leaps and bounds. *Smile*
         Paragraph size. Nobody likes to read long, drawn out blocks of text. When a reader is looking at an imposing, homogeneous column of text, it becomes very easy for a reader to lose their place. Big blocks of text create a strain on the eyes and fatigue the reader, and overall just look clunky and ugly on the page. The same "white space" rule that applies to paragraph spacing applies here. You want some white space in your document, to contrast with the text. If it's all text everywhere, it will be hard to read ... and hard to read means less enjoyment of the story and more focus on the (poor) formatting.
         Text Effects. Don't be afraid of enhancing your text. Bold, italics, and underline were created to draw attention to the words they modify. Like most things, these effects should be used in moderation, but enhancing text with these effects can draw attention or add emphasis to important parts of your writing without being as blatant as using all caps (which is usually considered to be the equivalent of shouting). All you need to do is surround the desired text with {b} and {/b} for bold, {i} and {/i} for italics, and {u} and {/u} for underline. Thus {b}BOLD!{/b} will result in: BOLD! {i}ITALICS!{/i} will result in ITALICS!
         Font & Font Size. Depending on the situation, sometimes a different font or font size is appropriate. Font sizes can be particularly effective when used in titles and other important headers, and the font itself can sometimes be used to enhance a document if there is more than one source of information. For example, you may use the default WDC font (Arial) to write your story, but then have a letter your character reads in the narrative show up in Comic Sans font, to give the impression of handwriting or, at the very least, that this writing is from a different source than the main narrative. To change the font, use the tag {font:X}, where X is the name of the desired font. Your choices of font include: arial, comic, courier, impact, and verdana. To change the font size, use the tag {size:X}, where X equals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. In order of smallest to largest, they look like this: Size 1, Size 2, Size 3, Size 4, Size 5.
         Text Color. I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of using text colors when writing stories. They're great for forum design and keeping things lively on WDC, but I tend to avoid them in my fictional writing because, if I'm ever published, I know the publisher isn't going to deviate from the black-and-white printing just to accommodate the fact that I want the word "bloody" to appear in red. That said, when it's specifically for WDC, text colors are a great way to draw the reader's attention and give your work some visual flair. *Smile* To include a text color, surround the desired text with {c:X} and {/c}, where X is the name of the color. Thus, {c:red}Red{/c} will appear like this: Red. Your choices of text color include: red, rose,pink, orange, yellow, light green (lgreen), green, light teal (lteal), teal, light blue (lblue), blue, indigo, violet, plum, light khaki (lkhaki), khaki, brown, grey, and black.
         Emoticons. While most emoticons don't have a lot of reference to writing serious pieces (honestly, who puts a smiley face at the end of a paragraph in their novel?), there are several that can be used when writing something where you're making a list, highlighting specific points, etc. In that case, a check mark, or an asterisk, or even a star, arrow, or thumbsup can help break up the text on the screen and give your work a visually interesting cue that attracts your reader naturally to the main points you're trying to make. To include an emoticon, simply include the tag {e:X}, where X is the name of the emoticon. A list of emoticons can be found here: http://www.writing.com/main/tools/action/emoticons. Thus, {e:cool} looks like this: *Cool*, and {e:moon} looks like this: *Moon*.
         Line Spacing. One of the newer WritingML features allows you to modify the line spacing of your item (the white space between each line of text). The default setting is 1.2, but you can change this setting to 1 (for less space), or any other numerical value between 1.0 and 3.0. All you have to do is use the {linespace:X} tag, where X equals the line spacing. This paragraph is set to {linespace:1.5}, which creates a pleasant, visually appealing look to a paragraph.
         The next time that you're writing something for WDC, give formatting the same thought and consideration as you would give it when submitting your work to a publisher with manuscript formatting guidelines for submissions. Presentation is important; it's one of those things that is barely noticeable when done well, but stands out like a sore thumb when it's done poorly. Give yourself every opportunity for success (and your work every opportunity to be appreciated!) by making sure the formatting enhances your words rather than detracting from them. *Smile*


--- < ^ > ---



         Let's talk a little bit about formatting, shall we? I know, it's a terribly exciting subject. *Rolleyes*

         The thing is, the way you present your work can have just as much as an impact on your reader as your characters, dialogue, story, and writing style. Presentation is the first thing that catches a reader's attention and while good formatting is often quickly dismissed, bad formatting is not. Bad formatting can ruin your audience's reading experience by drawing attention away from the content of the work and refocusing it on the context which it's being presented.

         To be clear, I'm not talking about proper spelling, grammar and punctuation; I'm talking about the way the work looks on the page (or the screen, in the case of Writing.Com). The great thing about Writing.Com is that there are an abundance of tools - mostly in the form of WritingML coding - that can help you create a piece of writing with a successful presentation that enhances your audience's reading experience. Some things to consider:

*Note6* Paragraph spacing. Since WDC doesn't have the ability to automatically double-space a document, there really needs to be a space between the paragraphs themselves, to break the text up a little bit. White space on the page is just as important as the text; you need a certain amount of it to avoid reader fatigue. If you write your stories inside a WDC text box, there's really no reason to not hit "Enter" an extra time after every paragraph. If you write your stories on a word processor, you can write like you'd want it to appear on WDC: single spaced with a blank line between paragraphs. If you write your stories on a word processor in double-spaced manuscript format, there's even a handy check box at the bottom of the Static Item edit page that says, "Double Space Paragraphs" and will translate those single-carriage returns in your word processor document into WDC-friendly double-spacing between paragraphs. Even if you have to go into your document and manually add an extra space between each paragraph, it's a quick fix that improves the visual appeal of your items by leaps and bounds. *Smile*

*Note6* Paragraph size. Nobody likes to read long, drawn out blocks of text. When a reader is looking at an imposing, homogeneous column of text, it becomes very easy for a reader to lose their place. Big blocks of text create a strain on the eyes and fatigue the reader, and overall just look clunky and ugly on the page. The same "white space" rule that applies to paragraph spacing applies here. You want some white space in your document, to contrast with the text. If it's all text everywhere, it will be hard to read ... and hard to read means less enjoyment of the story and more focus on the (poor) formatting.

*Note6* Text Effects. Don't be afraid of enhancing your text. Bold, italics, and underline were created to draw attention to the words they modify. Like most things, these effects should be used in moderation, but enhancing text with these effects can draw attention or add emphasis to important parts of your writing without being as blatant as using ALL CAPS (which is usually considered to be the equivalent of shouting). All you need to do is surround the desired text with {b} and {/b} for bold, {i} and {/i} for italics, and {u} and {/u} for underline. Thus {b}BOLD!{/b} will result in: BOLD! {i}ITALICS!{/i} will result in ITALICS!

*Note6* Font & Font Size. Depending on the situation, sometimes a different font or font size is appropriate. Font sizes can be particularly effective when used in titles and other important headers, and the font itself can sometimes be used to enhance a document if there is more than one source of information. For example, you may use the default WDC font (Arial) to write your story, but then have a letter your character reads in the narrative show up in Comic Sans font, to give the impression of handwriting or, at the very least, that this writing is from a different source than the main narrative. To change the font, use the tag {font:X}, where X is the name of the desired font. Your choices of font include: arial, comic, courier, impact, and verdana. To change the font size, use the tag {size:X}, where X equals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. In order of smallest to largest, they look like this: Size 1, Size 2, Size 3, Size 4, Size 5.

*Note6* Text Color. I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of using text colors when writing stories. They're great for forum design and keeping things lively on WDC, but I tend to avoid them in my fictional writing because, if I'm ever published, I know the publisher isn't going to deviate from the black-and-white printing just to accommodate the fact that I want the word "bloody" to appear in red. That said, when it's specifically for WDC, text colors are a great way to draw the reader's attention and give your work some visual flair. *Smile* To include a text color, surround the desired text with {c:X} and {/c}, where X is the name of the color. Thus, {c:red}Red{/c} will appear like this: Red. Your choices of text color include: red, rose,pink, orange, yellow, light green (lgreen), green, light teal (lteal), teal, light blue (lblue), blue, indigo, violet, plum, light khaki (lkhaki), khaki, brown, grey, and black.

*Note6* Emoticons. While most emoticons don't have a lot of reference to writing serious pieces (honestly, who puts a smiley face at the end of a paragraph in their novel?), there are several that can be used when writing something where you're making a list, highlighting specific points, etc. In that case, a check mark, or an asterisk, or even a star, arrow, or thumbsup can help break up the text o1n the screen and give your work a visually interesting cue that attracts your reader naturally to the main points you're trying to make. To include an emoticon, simply include the tag {e:X}, where X is the name of the emoticon. A list of emoticons can be found here: http://www.writing.com/main/tools/action/emoticons. Thus, {e:cool} looks like this: *Cool*, and {e:moon} looks like this: *Moon*.

*Note6* Line Spacing. One of the newer WritingML features allows you to modify the line spacing of your item (the white space between each line of text). The default setting is 1.2, but you can change this setting to 1 (for less space), or any other numerical value between 1.0 and 3.0. All you have to do is use the {linespace:X} tag, where X equals the line spacing. This paragraph is set to {linespace:1.5}, which creates a pleasant, visually appealing look to a paragraph.

         The next time that you're writing something for WDC, give formatting the same thought and consideration as you would give it when submitting your work to a publisher with manuscript formatting guidelines for submissions. Presentation is important; it's one of those things that is barely noticeable when done well, but stands out like a sore thumb when it's done poorly. Give yourself every opportunity for success (and your work every opportunity to be appreciated!) by making sure the formatting enhances your words rather than detracting from them. *Smile*


--- < ^ > ---



AUTHOR'S NOTE #2: Okay, time for a quick test. After looking at both versions of the article (or skipping over the first one and proving my point *Laugh*), doesn't the second one seem ... better? The words in each article are exactly the same, but with a few minutes' worth of formatting work, I was able to create something that was more interesting, easier to read, and more visually appealing the second time around. All it took was a few extra minutes. Isn't giving your work the best possible environment in which to succeed worth a few extra minutes? *Bigsmile*

© Copyright 2010 Jeff (socalscribe at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1666647