View Full Version : How to add print (for characters to read) to novels

01-20-2018, 12:40 AM
Of course this is for novel readers as well.

Rowling did a lot of this in Harry Potter. She added things like letters (using custom signatures), newspaper text, business cards, door engravings, notes pinned to things (e.g. cloak), voiced telegrams, erased blackboard messages, and such.

Each of these have different formats of style.


1. Does an online resource exist, with guidelines how to craft these?
2. What font should one use for cursive text (such as signatures, business cards, or writing on black/white boards)?
3. Must an author format the same types exactly the same (in different chapters or books, if he writes sequels)? For example, two letters are written by different people. If they are different people, should they use different letter styles (or should the author be consistent with these)?


01-20-2018, 02:43 AM
Are you looking to self-publish or trade publish? If self-publish, I don't know the answer beyond the fact that many word processors do have a scripty font or two. But I'm sure there are others. A beta found me a script that would write letters backwards, so I'm sure there's plenty of fancy handwriting scripts.

If trade publish, that's something the publisher would bring in. You could demonstrate it with a different word processor font (hopefully one the agents and editors would also have) or just save it until you get a publisher interested.

Marissa D
01-20-2018, 02:44 AM
How things like letters, business cards, signage, etc. etc. appear in a book is mostly up to the book's designer (presumably with input from the editor.) I usually just set them apart by single-spacing and narrowing the column of text in my manuscripts, and leave it up to the designer to worry about fonts and all that.

01-20-2018, 02:46 AM
If you're going via a publisher/agent, don't worry about formatting. For now I'd just be consistent in what you do (e.g., keep Times New Roman, 12 font etc, but just use italics and line spacing for all letters etc. If you're sending via snail mail, some publishers don't like italics and prefer underlining to show they need to be in italics. So just double check via their site or drop them a query on formatting if you have to send it through the post).

You don't need fancy fonts to show a different authors in the letters: character voice within the letters should be doing that. But if you do want that, it's something to be discussed with the publisher/agent etc. They'll have style sheets to go by, and that includes yours and how you'd like things to be formatted.

If you're self publishing, I'd just make sure that whatever style and font you choose is legible.

01-20-2018, 04:44 AM
Technical answer is "Make it a visual object, and embedded it in the text." MS-Word 2010 and beyond has a text-wrap feature that allows you to position visual objects within a document. If you don't know how to do this, and you need to, then you need to learn more about your word-processor.


01-20-2018, 07:03 AM
I'm going for the agent/publisher route, not self-publishing. Thanks to everyone who provided both solves!

blacbird: This is easy to do, but I'd be afraid doing something like this. I'd imagine the agent/editor/publisher would have issue, and may demand changing it to text. I appreciate the response!

Fallen: Fantastic info of snail mail submission and querying for preference; thank you.

Marissa D: I'm unsure what you meant. Did you mean single-space, block-quote-style text (without quotes), for these printed items?

Sage: You make a fantastic point to use default fonts installed with Windows. I'd be afraid to use non-standard effects, like backwards text. I think, if I wanted something like this, I'd describe it in the writing (if I could).

Thanks everyone! Anymore input is appreciated.

01-20-2018, 07:35 AM
blacbird: This is easy to do, but I'd be afraid doing something like this. I'd imagine the agent/editor/publisher would have issue, and may demand changing it to text. I appreciate the response!

You are welcome, but the response was framed in the absence of knowing what exactly you intended to do. Which makes a point about being specific in asking questions.

For a manuscript submission, you are over-worrying. Put in the quote you wish, with a clear indication of what it is, in standard manuscript format, nothing fancy. Any editor/agent with any degree of experience will know what it is. Should the story be accepted for publication, the issue becomes one of house style, which an editor will take care of.


01-20-2018, 08:20 AM
blacbird: Spot on; thanks!

Old Hack
01-21-2018, 02:33 PM
If you're looking for an agent then as others have said, you don't need any special formatting.

Separate the letter, etc., from the main text by inserting a blank line or two, and perhaps indenting it. That's all. Don't use fancy fonts, or try to make it look like handwriting. That will be taken care of at publication by the book's designer/typesetter.

All you have to do is get the words right, and make your ms clean, consistent and tidy.

01-21-2018, 10:08 PM
Thank you, Old Hack; appreciated!

I agree. I will use the character's styles of writing differently (if they have repeat written messages).