Every writer, every correspondent, every person has their own style when setting out their writing and punctuating their work.
This is especially so when work is submitted from across the globe. Pure Slush has so far (by November 2012) published work from writers living in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, India, Australia, France, the Philippines, Germany, the Netherlands Antilles, Finland, Vietnam, Slovenia, Ireland, and the UK (and that includes England, Scotland and Wales). Some of these are native speakers of English. Some speak and write English as their second or third or fourth language ... and brava (or bravo) to them too.
For work published online, other than changing the font style and size - we use Book Antiqua for everything, usually 12 point though sometimes 14 for text; 24 point for large headings and 18 point for smaller headings - we here at Pure Slush keep the punctuation used by the original author. If we believe the meaning is enhanced by changes to the punctuation, this is suggested and discussed with the author during the editing process.
And as for spelling, Matt Potter, founding editor of Pure Slush is Australian, and Australian spelling is very close to British spelling. (As for vocabulary, Australian English is still closer to British English than American English, but does sit somewhere between the two.) The point is, please use the English spelling that is native to you, whether you are British or American or Canadian or Australian or Samoan or whatever ...
If English is not your first language, please make sure your spelling is consistent. For example, many younger Indian writers use American spelling, while many older Indian writers use British spelling. Either is fine, as long as the spelling is consistent within the story, essay or poem.
What can cause problems is if the terms used are British but the spelling is American, or vice versa. This can make for odd reading.
We don't however, indent new paragraphs, as a matter of course ... unless there is a reason to. (For poetry, for example.)
But after a recent review of Notausgang: emergency exit Pure Slush Vol. 2 stated there were some errors and inconsistencies with punctuation (and we assume, spelling too), we've decided to review this practice, at least for Pure Slush's print books.
We would like you to submit for print in the following way:
• Book Antiqua or Bembo 12 point for the text. (We were using Book Antiqua for the inside of all Pure Slush books, but we now use Bembo.)
• any font size for the title and your name is fine
• at least 1.5 space between each line
• only one space between each sentence. Two spaces, which are preferred by many writers, can make spacing across each paragraph and the whole piece very difficult and cause large gaps when the text is justified.
In the interests of consistency, the following changes will be made if your work does not meet these standards.
italics - Italics will be used for film and TV show titles and book and album titles, but not for the names of (for example) airports or companies or brand names unless they are italicised for emphasis. Thus, the book Go Down, Moses will appear Go Down, Moses and not 'Go Down, Moses'.
capitals - Many writers have issues with names for parents and other family members. If you are referring to them by name - Dad, Mom, Father, Mum, Grandma, Papa, Aunt Mary - then they should have a capital for their title. If not - her dad, my grandma, his uncle, the mom - then they should not have a capital.
only one space between each sentence - Two spaces, which are preferred by many writers, can make spacing across each paragraph and the whole piece very difficult and cause large gaps when the text is justified. This doesn't happen with only one space between sentences. If the spacing is bad we will send it back. And three spaces, which some writers use ad hoc because they are a bit sloppy, just makes the writer look ... well, sloppy.
brackets and full stops / periods - If the whole sentence is bracketed, then the full stop or period should appear inside the brackets. (I told her she shouldn't do it.) If the bracketed words are part of a sentence, then the full stop or period should appear outside the brackets. I told her she was gorgeous (even though she didn't want me to).
ellipses and dashes - As sentences tail off or peter out, or when they are interrupted (and many writers use these with dialogue) you should add a space between the dash or the ellipsis and the word either side of it, at both ends. I couldn't do it ... I couldn't breathe ... I couldn't talk ... or I couldn't do it - I couldn't breathe - I couldn't talk -
Ellipses and dashes mean different things, but should be treated in the same way.
two dashes or one? - One, longer dash is better, and not two shorter dashes. We will change the two shorter dashes to one longer dash - unless it's code for something!
Oxford commas - These are used when listing things. This is entirely a personal preference, though some writers use them sometimes, and other times choose not to. Oxford commas are used after the second to last object or action in the list, and before and. Example with an Oxford comma (Oxford comma in red): He bought oranges, apples, bananas, and lemons. Example without an Oxford comma: He bought oranges, apples, bananas and lemons. The choice is yours, but be mindful of any inconsistencies in using them, if they are (or are not) important.
quotation marks for speech - “ ”for all speech should be used: “I could have sworn we’d met before,” and not, ‘I could have sworn we’d met before.’ If a character is quoting speech within speech, then this is the form we will use: “She didn’t say that,” Janet replied. “She said, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow if I have time.’”
If you have any questions about this, please email Matt Potter at email@example.com