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Craft: Formatting a Letter in Your Manuscript

Written by Vicki Hinze

On December 28, 2010

Vicki Hinze © 2003

In my next novel, I would like to transcribe/describe the contents of a letter. What do you suggest is the best way to do this?

I’ve done this two ways and neither was altered in the published version. Here are the specifics:

1. Double-space twice from the last line of regular text. Indent an additional 5 spaces on the left and right margins, then type in the letter. After the last line of the letter, double-space twice, then resume your regular text.

2. Double-space twice from the last line of regular text. Change Font. (Some use italics, some use just a different font. Example: if your book is typed in Courier, then switch to Times New Roman for the letter.) Double-space, return to the regular font, then resume regular text. I didn’t increase the left and right margin indent, though I have seen manuscripts that did and frankly it did make the offset more easily identifiable. I’ve seen experts reference doing it both ways, which said to me that either was acceptable.

As for the layout of the letter. Use the typical double-spacing and paragraph indention. For other formatting, use what is normal for the type of letter, whether it is a business letter, or personal correspondence.


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