Formatting dialogue and everything else. Just a mishap or I screwed it all?

That sounds really understandable, imo. If you’re going to adjust the formatting, beta readers will probably help you keep everything consistent before publication, so don’t sweat it too much.


Yeah, I mean, it’s a hassle, but I haven’t published anything about my book yet, is not that I realized I screwed it after publication, so it’s just a matter of fixing it the right way once and be done with it. I have to review the whole book no matter what, I know I have to polish and correct other things also, so anyways I’ll have to do it one way or the other. I’m trying to reach the most decent level I can do on my own before beta test for several reasons, so yeah, no big deal.

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@chloeab1 has it right.

Discourse supports a custom flavor of Markdown. Markdown is a group of languages (or refers to any language) which uses plain-text special syntax to produce formatting when parsed. Discourse’s flavor of Markdown supports all of the basic syntax like *italic* italic, **bold** bold, ~~strikethrough~~ strikethrough, etc.

If you want to include a separator line you can use *** or --- after an empty line. Like below:

Take a look at this post for advanced formatting:


@cup_half_empty Yes, thank you very much.

I created a poll regarding the issue, if anyone would like to vote on the subject you can do it here.

Thanks again for all the support and great feedback. I’m looking forward to correct my book once and for all.


Never in my life seen dialogue tagged with an M dash. Sounds like you did it because you were mistaken about convention, not because it was a deliberate stylistic choice.

In that case, here’s how you fix it.

Find: —"
Replace: "

Do that for all your files and you’re sorted. Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Remember to go through and double check it all, however.

As for internal monologue, I don’t use any formatting. I just wrote what the character is thinking in plain text like I would any other paragraph. And for telepathic communication, just for fun, I use <pointy brackets> because if it was good enough for Animorphs it’s good enough for me.


I wish it were so easy, but the spaces won’t match.

—What are you talking about? —she says.

"What are you talking about? "she says.

So I have to do it manually.

Afaik the em dash is used on some places for dialogue, but not here, so I did it all wrong. I probably mixed some spanish rules and who knows what, so yeah, tedious work ahead…

Can’t you add the space to the find-replace, though? :thinking: Something like:




Granted, you’d have to run two different find-replace searches for each file, one to catch the em dashes that had a space and another to get those that didn’t, but it’s still heaps easier than going over the whole thing manually.

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Yes, I could, but em dashes aren’t used to close the dialogue.

—How’s that possible?

—I don’t know —he looked with his mouth open.

"How’s that possible?

“I don’t know” he looked with his mouth open.

I’ve already thought of the replace option, but I don’t see it fully working…

Thanks for the suggestion though.

Do that and then fill in the quotes that are missing manually. Will still save you a lot of time.

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@Myrtle @will I’m sorry, I forgot to say that some of those conversations are “telepathic” so they’ll use ‘ ’ instead of “ ”, so that creates more unsolvable problems by the replace function. Anyways, thanks for the help.

edit: in resume, I’ve formatted the whole thing wrong, there’s no way to solve it quickly with a shortcut.

Then put on a podcast and start cracking.

Totally, though I’m more of a folk metal / epic music while writing :metal:t2: :metal:t2:.

You can do a double pass, one for the one without space and another one for the ones with spaces.

Alternayively, you can try using regex. I’m not sure, but I think Notepad++ allows you to use regex in find/replace. Or maybe you need a plugin for that. :thinking:

By the way, this is the regex you want:


Still, I’ll have to add the close " to a lot of places, so it’ll be like do it all by hand. I don’t have the slightest idea of what’s regex, or how to use it in case there’s nothing to replace.

As for now, I’m having a more (I’m just burned down by all that’s happening) problem of which " “ ‘ I have to use, I can’t find a consensus opinion on which symbol is the right one to use for dialogue, telepathy dialogue and such.

Just do you.


Just replace the for ". If there’s nothing to replace it won’t replace anything.

Yes, but that’s the problem.

—Hi, how are you?

—I'm fine, just hanging around —he says with a smile.

that would translate to

"Hi, how are you?

"I'm fine, just hanging around "he says with a smile.

the → Hi how are you ← would lack a " at the end, and I’ll have to add it by hand.

I don’t want to do me because the last time I did I wrote 250k words the wrong way because apparently symbols for writing are not universal, I just want to know which symbols are the correct ones so I can start doing it right once and for all.

You’re absolutely right.

Then there’s only one way, you’ll have to go through your text manually. Which you already know.

No, they are not. French uses « and » (and em-dashes) for dialogue. :joy:

« Salut! Ça va? »

Honestly, a quick search on Google should answer most of your questions. But here’s a quick primer on punctuation in English:

:exclamation: Note that different style guides might differ on some of these. But the following is the most accepted to my knowledge.


  • Ellipsis (Alt + 0133) is not three periods, they just look like it. CoG’s guideline requests authors to use ellipsis and not three dots. Here’s the difference: .... Also, an ellipsis looks like three dots, not four, not five, just three.

:exclamation: This is not just a whim. If you write consecutive periods, it might screw up screen-readers. An Ellipsis is a single character.

  • There’s no space between an ellipsis and the preceding word if it indicates interrupted speech.
    :white_check_mark: "Wait… so, you're saying they knew already?" she said.
    :x: "Wait … so, you're saying they knew already?" she said.
    :x: "Wait…so, you're saying they knew already?" she said.
    :x: "Wait …so, you're saying they knew already?" she said.
  • There’s no space after if the following character is a punctuation mark.
    :white_check_mark: "Wait…!" she said.
  • If the ellipsis comes at the end of a sentence, you do include a period.
    :white_check_mark: "Wait…."


  • Comes between double quotation marks ". CoG’s guideline requests the use of “dumb” or straight quotation marks, as opposed to curly “smart” quotation marks. So, " "“ ”. Your keyboard always outputs straight quotation marks, but depending on your text editor, it might automatically convert them to curly.
  • Even if the dialogue quote ends in an exclamation or interrogation mark, the following dialogue tag will be in lowercase.
    :white_check_mark: "That's it!" she said.
    :x: "That's it!" She said.
  • Quotes never end with a period if there are trailing dialogue tags. Instead, it continues with a coma.
    :white_check_mark: "Stay," was the single word I could muster.
    :x: "Stay." was the single word I could muster.
    :x: "Stay" was the single word I could muster.
  • But it ends in a period if there’s no tag.
    :white_check_mark: "Stay."
  • Also, the period comes inside the quote, except if you’re quoting the quote.
    :exclamation: British English allows the period to come outside of the quote.
    :white_check_mark: "I love you."
    :white_check_mark: "I said 'I love you'."
    :white_check_mark: "I said 'I love you.'"
    :x: "I love you". (American Standard)
    :white_check_mark: "I love you". (British Standard)
  • Single quotation marks are used for quotes inside quotes, like in the previous example.
  • Generally, thoughts, inner monologue, or telepathy conversation don’t have any special punctuation. Instead, italics are used. However, this is more of a convention than a rule.

Kara patted the front of her jacket, then her back pockets, her front pockets, and her jacket again. Horror growing on her face. Where are the keys?!


  • You could probably fill a whole book on the proper uses of comma alone. But there also many rules for parenthesis, colon, semi-colon, hyphens, en-dashes, and em-dashes. But I think, generally, you can get away with it, even you break them a little.
  • In novels, there’s no space between the words preceding or succeeding a dash. But in other kinds of publications, like newspapers, they might include spaces.
    :white_check_mark: They waited for months—three to be precise. (Literary convention)
    :x: They waited for months — three to be precise.
    :white_check_mark: They waited for months — three to be precise. (Newspaper convention)
  • It is actually accepted to use two hyphens in place of an em-dash. Most text editors will automatically convert it, though.
    :white_check_mark: They waited for months--three to be precise.
  • The interrogation mark always comes first when combined with an exclamation mark (interrobang).
    :white_check_mark: ?!
    :x: !?

Don’t fret too much about punctuation. But these are the basics to make your punctuation “invisible”—as it should be. You probably already use some of it intuitively.


Yes, yes, I know, I can do that, it’s easy, but the hard part is to know which symbol to use, seriously, it got me on the edge a lot more than to know I have to change all the dialog tags in 250k words, I mean, it’s just a stupid symbol, how hard can be to get 2 opinions that don’t contradict with each other about something that everyone here must be using?

Well, I don’t know anything about french, but afaik the em dash is used a lot in spanish dialogue and some others (though I’m not really sure of anything at this point)

That I’ll have to correct, besides all the other things.

This is just what I needed. :pray:t2:

Right, that’s what the CoG guideline says, but I’m really used to have some tag for the telepathic dialogue, italics alone are too subtle for me I think, and it might make the telepathic dialogue somewhat confusing, so I wanted to use the most “approved” symbol for it, which is one that I may have to pick for myself as the ‘ ’ (ALT + 0145 / 0146 ) don’t work with the notepad++ highlight. And it doesn’t seem to be a unified opinion about any symbol for “telepathic” dialogue.

I think I’ll use ~~ for the telepathic voice that doesn’t come from the MC. It’ll be only used there, and it works with the syntax highlight.

Well, thank you, a lot, I didn’t want to search in google because last time I did I made it all wrong, so that’s why I came here to have the opinion of someone who’ve already worked with the same structure I should have followed since the beginning. Thanks again, I’ll sleep a lot more relaxed now.

Yas! Folk metal! Any opinion on the latest Finntroll album? lol

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I didn’t have the chance yet, I’ll se if I can get my ears on it.

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