Originally Posted by cybmole
thanks for input - what about the "make handwritten notes look handwritten" issue - do you / your clients have a view on that ?
I originally asked
....And if the blockquote is supposed to be a diary entry, storywise, or a handwritten letter, then surely it would be more authentic to have no paragraph indents , no justification, and more space between paragraphs
LOL, many of my (younger-as-authors) clients certainly
have a view on it, and it's not one I generally share. (My personal crusade against handwriting-font "abuse.")
I don't think I understand why you think no paragraph indents would be appropriate? Most people still write with indented paragraphs, rather than block-style, so I don't think I follow why you think it would be "more authentic?" Or, for that matter, more space between paragraphs?
Personally, I like whitespace, above and below, and enclosing quotation marks, above the date or salutation and after the closing. Iif needed--if the entry/element extends past the average screensize--then I'll usually think about an indent, so that when the reader comes to the end, the change, coupled with the whitespace, makes the return to the narrative obvious. This is particularly true with very long "letters." Obviously, font-sizes affect this, and we can't control all things, as we all know well.
We just did a book that was an absolute horror--I don't know how on earth the book was originally created, but it was a series of letters "on" a particular person, so "about" John Doe. Somehow, they'd been concatenated into a imaged, not searchable, PDF file--some were xeroxes, some were typed from the originals, etc. These letters are on a modern person, so the image-only part boggles me. To get it done, the book was scanned by Golden Images, with a manual proof, so that part was okay, but the layout was egregiously bad (in the original, not blaming Stan at GI). We did everything we could, as it was also a super-RUSH gig, but crappity, it was just unreadable.
I would have vastly preferred to have a specific style for each letter, but the publisher was unwilling, insisting on a variety of styles (the original "formats" of the original letters, even if they'd been retyped for the book), and for the life of me, nothing I said penetrated. The only way to 'recognize' one letter from the next is by scrolling up-down, to find the salutation or closing, or date.
In reviewing that book, I'd have to say that it was a classic case of two opposing goals--visually, the book would have benefited greatly by indentation for the letters, so you always knew that you were reading one; but as the entire book was mostly letters, you'd have wasted a boatload of space, thus risking pissing off the readers thereof. That particular publisher also had a cow about the idea of the footnotes not being "with" the letters--despite repeated explanations--so we ended up having to put the footnotes beneath each letter, essentially in the body of the "chapter." I still don't think that s/he understood that screens are small.
I certainly don't think that losing the indents, or adding more whitespace between paragraphs would have helped that book. I think it would have made it even more confusing, and harder to scroll up/down to see where you were, or what letter you were reading. I also believe, when I contemplate the small screens of the average devices, that the visual "cue" of adding whitespace between the paragraphs of a "letter" or diary entry, etc., could easily
be confused with a scenebreak, particularly if you used bock paragraph style, as the current layout trends are whitespace and a block paragraph for scene changes or POV changes.
Just my $.02. I think that as long as the book conveys the story without confusing the reader, the formatter or layout person has done his or her job; I think we can reasonably expect that the Layout Police won't come knockin' as long as the book makes sense.