It’s Now a Single-Spaced World

Show of hands. Who learned to type on a typewriter?

TypewriterNow keep your hand up if you double space between sentences.

Wow. Quite a few of you!

I hope this news isn’t a surprise, but double spacing is virtually no more when writing for publication. A single space is all that is needed / required between sentences for most style guides and a majority of publishers.

If you’re publishing your own blog and your own e-books you may retain the double spacing between sentences as a personal preference. But if you’re submitting for publication, a single space is all that’s needed in most cases.

*I’m saying most cases because the American Press (AP) Stylebook did call for the single space, but have gone back to the double space.

Programmers and anyone coding in HTML (for instance) on their blogs, know that it’s an effort to make a double space. Everything defaults to single space unless the special   is entered to add an additional space.

It took me a while to get in the habit of single spacing and I still find old documents that are double spaced. When I first transitioned to single spacing, it was through the find and replace feature in Word. Now it’s just habit to only use one space.

No bad things will happen if you continue to double space between sentences; however if submitting for publication (as is always the case) read the guidelines carefully and if there is a style guide handy, double-check the rule for spacing between sentences. If you can make the best first impression with a publisher, even if it’s single spacing between sentences, you should do it. Right?

I’ve had this conversation a few times over the last couple of months. Some folks are adamant about the double space; others are surprised to hear single spacing is an option; and then there are a few, like me, who have converted to single spacing and can’t imagine double spacing any more.

Where are you in the single vs double space conversation? A convert? Not ever going to single space? Single space on special occasions?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, technology, and realty businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Grammar-ease: When to write out numbers

Welcome to a new grammar post, lovely readers. This topic came from one of you, thank you!

When do you write out numbers?

Some consistent rules include:

  • Write out small, whole numbers that are less than 10: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine
  • Write out centuries and decades: twenty-first century, the Seventies
  • Write out a number if it starts a sentence: Six hundred men stormed the castle. (An exception is if the sentence starts with a year: 1965 was a great year.)
  • Estimated and rounded numbers over a million are a mix:
    2 million, 47 billion, 598 trillion (exact numbers are written out: 1,734,683,925; 1,985; 99,234, and so on)
  • Similar to the above point, percentages, when a whole number, spell out; with decimal or fraction, use the number: thirty-seven percent (or 37 percent); 2.75%, 3 3/4%, ten percent (or 10 percent).
  • When two numbers are next to each other, spell one of them out: I had a party for 4 ten-year-old children; ten 4-year-old children(spell out the number with the fewest letters)
  • Multiple numbers in a sentence — your choice to spell out or not, but be consistent with the method you choose: There were 11 horses, 6 chickens, and 2 ducks on the farm. OR There were eleven horses, six chickens, and two ducks on the farm. (Not, for instance: There were 11 horses, six chickens, and two ducks.)

Rules that vary:

  • Spelling out a number in a quote. If something is a direct quote, I prefer to spell out numbers as words; but it is okay to use numbers: Robert said, “I found 57 pieces of glass on the beach.” OR Robert said, “I found fifty-seven pieces of glass on the beach.”
  • Unless following a specific style guide, it’s generally a personal preference whether to write out single-word numbers (thirteen, thirty, forty, and so on) or use figures for two-word numbers (25, 31, 46, 99 and so on). Numbers containing three or more words fall into the category about about estimated/rounded numbers versus exact numbers.
  • Time of day is a personal preference: 4:30AM versus four-thirty in the morning; The alarm goes off at five sharp. versus The alarm goes off at 5 sharp.

Here’s a way to keep it simple:

The overall rule of thumb: consistency is key.

Of course this doesn’t cover every rule or possibility, just an overview and place to start. Publishers and many companies have style guides that spell out their preferences, and you’ll (probably) seldom find any two alike!

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, technology, and realty businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

What Do You Want from a Writer’s Retreat?

I’d like to talk with you about retreats for writers. The immediate answer to any of these questions can easily be ‘well, it depends’, but overall, I’m curious to learn what type of writing retreat you’d benefit from most within the next 12 months.

View from kitchen table of Maine cabin for retreat - many seating options!

View from kitchen table of Maine cabin for retreat – many seating options!

When you hear “writer’s retreat” what time frame leaps to mind? A few hours, an overnight somewhere, two or three nights, a week or more…

  • If your answer is ‘a few hours’, there are “write ins” popping up now where space is reserved for up to half a day, and you can show up for as much of that time as you like — it’s more for camaraderie in being with other writers at the same time than anything else — I like doing these during November (National Novel Writing Month)

How do you feel when you think about a writer’s retreat? Calm, happy, anxious, dread, excited, bummed, inspired, scared…

  • my feelings can run the gamut depending on what type of project leaps to mind — most generally, though, thinking about being around other writers makes me smile and outweighs any anxiety — if I had to pick 1 word, it would be ‘bliss’

Where do you search for information on writer’s retreats? Social media, ShawGuides, writing groups/organizations you belong to, libraries, book stores, general Internet searches…

  • sometimes too many choices result in choosing to not even look around at options — my favorite type of writing retreat is one combined with an adventure vacation (like rafting down the Colorado River [did it], or spending a week at a Wyoming dude ranch [did it], or learning to cook in Italy [on my bucket list], or camping in New Zealand [not sure if that one exists yet!]

What is important to you in a retreat? time alone to write, a group setting, critiques/feedback, sharing your work, instruction, mentorship, everyone working in same or multiple genres…

  •  All of the above, please! When working on fiction, a mix of genres works well for me. But when I’m focused on non-fiction I prefer everyone to be the same — there’s something different for me when crafting imaginative stories than truth-based stories/articles/essays/manuscripts.
Water view seating for same Maine cabin getaway. Variety is good!

Water view seating for same Maine cabin getaway. Variety is good!

If you’re new to writing, is it a feature to have experienced writers in the group, or a deterrent? And likewise, if you’re multipublished, does a retreat with newbie writers attract you?

  • As long as expectations for the group are stated and agreed to up front, a mix of experience levels can benefit all attendees.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on writer’s retreats.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Grammar-ease: When to Capitalize a Season

So, here in New Hampshire, we had one of the coldest winters (or is it Winters) on record, weeks of single-digit and below zero temps.

Then we had April, definitely labeled spring (or is it Spring) on the calendar. It was filled with temps averaging in the 40s.

daffodils_april_10_03_editedNow it’s May 4th and temps are in the 80s.

To say we had a short spring (or is it Spring) is crazy, but, honestly, 80 degrees after weeks in the 40s? I’d say summer (or is it Summer) is here! It’s definitely shorts and t-shirt weather!

To the topic of this post — it’s a common question: Do you capitalize the seasons when writing about spring, summer, winter, or fall?

The short and simple answer is: no.

You only capitalize the season of spring, summer, winter, or fall when it’s part of a title or the name of an event.

You wouldn’t capitalize “spring break,” but you would if it was in reference to, for instance, the event known as”Spring Break 2015: Bermuda Bound.”

Correct examples:

  • signs of spring are everywhere
  • ushering in spring
  • shake off the winter blues and celebrate spring
  • fall foliage is a few months away
  • 2016 Winter Cruise: Sail Away to Hawaii
  • Mayberry’s Fall Festival

It’s been a while since I posted a grammar article.

Would you like to see grammar tips again?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Need Help with Social Media or WordPress? Meet Barb Drozdowich

If you’re in need of help getting started with promotion through social media, and/or help in setting up a WordPress author page, I’d like you to meet Barb Drozdowich, a social media and WordPress consultant who *loves* working with and helping writers at whatever stage they are at in creating their writer’s platform.

You can meet her at a free online event this Sunday night.

Barb has taught at colleges and universities, trained technical personnel in the banking industry and, most recently, used her expertise to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world.

Barb owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular romance book blog, Sugarbeat’s Books.

Her Building Blocks to Author Success series, currently containing 6 books, was born out of her work with authors once she realized there weren’t a lot of non-technical how-to books slanted towards the needs of authors.

AuthorsGuidetoWorkingwithBookBloggers BookBlogTours FacebookForAuthors GoodReadsGuideforAuthors WhatsYourAuthorPlatform

 

 

 

 

 

BookBloggerPlatform

She also has several free WordPress and blogger-related tutorials on her Website you can check out.

 

You are quite welcome to stop in for the live chat and conversation with Barb this Sunday night, April 26, from 7-9pm EST at The Writer’s Chatroom: http://writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm. No password or registration is needed. I’ll be moderating. We’ll even have virtual drinks of all kinds, chocolate, and other goodies.

–>During the chat, Barb will be raffling off a free 1-hour consultation on any of the topics covered by her books or her blogs.

If you have questions for Barb in advance of the chat, feel free to send them to me at lisa@writerschatroom.com, and I’ll make sure they get asked and answered!

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Maintaining healthy habits while working from home

Working from home is great, isn’t it?

You can roll out of bed, get to your desk and work in your pajamas or yoga pants without any stress or strain. Heck, you could even skip brushing your teeth, showering, or eating breakfast if you wanted.

And sleeping in? Well, without any commute or the need to get up and get ready for work, you’ve at least gained an hour every morning from the past daily commuter traffic drama, haven’t you?

Working from home is convenient. And for some, myself included, maybe too convenient at times.

It’s so easy to wake up and walk a few steps to the office chair — and sit… for hours, easily absorbed by our work and not being interrupted.

GetUpAndMove

With no one to tell us how we look, it’s easy to even stop worrying about appearance. We can work longer hours when we work from home, too. There’s always one more thing to get done, and we might as well tackle it sooner rather than later, right? Heck, there aren’t any dark parking lots to deal with or traffic to contend with – working from home gives us so much MORE time to work!

Event though these things sound like they might be benefits, without discipline, working from home can become unhealthy. We can get out of eating regularly, not drink enough water, forget to get up and move, and even sacrifice must-needed sleep.

When I worked in a corporate office I made sure to drink a lot so I had to get up several times during the day. Working from home, I got out of that habit, so now set a timer for an hour so that I’ll remember to drink something.

Exercise is definitely easier during the warm weather months. This winter was difficult in terms of getting outside to exercise, or even drive to the gym. But it’s necessary to find ways to stand (standing desk, anyone? I know Lee has talked about the benefits at least twice) and move around to get the blood flowing and the slouched back straightened out.

I gained several pounds over the winter due to not moving enough and grabbing junk food out of the pantry instead of taking the time to prepare healthy meals. Convenience isn’t always a good thing!

Have you come upon any health concerns or challenges since you started working from home? How have you dealt with them? What do you do to make working from home a healthier option than the typical office job?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with Lisa on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Creating images for blogs and other social media sites

033015_imageOver the weekend I learned a new skill: creating a header image for an organization’s website.

I was intimidated, nervous, and wondered if there was enough time left in that day to actually accomplish the task at hand.

Canva.com has been mentioned as a resource on this blog in the past few months. Deborah’s post lists several resources for culling free images, and Julie’s post mentions canva in passing as something she uses quite a bit.

As I was in need of the image for the mystery writer’s group I belong to with Julie, she’d mentioned canva.com to me a few times and said it was easy to use.

I couldn’t put the task off any longer, so I clicked on over to canva.com and found I could log in with a Google account. I liked not having to create an account. Ahh!

And then I was ready to go.

First up is to select the type of image to create – one for a Facebook post, Facebook cover, presentation, poster, and so on. I needed one to use as a website header, so chose Use custom dimensions, entered the dimensions and entered a new screen.

I was ready to create my header image. There is a keyword search box to get you started, and also a super short but informational tutorial to get the not-yet-designer up to speed.

I played around with layouts, different text, and backgrounds. It really was easy to move back and forth and play with colors, styles, and images.

I personally like playing with different text layouts and fonts – those are word-related. Visuals are challenging, but this site gives me hope that I can create images when I need them.

Once done creating an image there are options to download, share through social media, and save.

The image included above isn’t going to win any awards, but I created it in less than 3 minutes. It’s two images in one — and I needed some color today. Winter may be over, but spring colors have yet to start appearing outside my window yet! Browns and dirty white isn’t all that appealing.

This is the first image I created:

Heroes, Villians, and Sidekicks

*Not all images are free on the site, but if there’s a fee ($1), it’s noted on the image.

I’m not endorsing this site, simply sharing my experience. It was worthwhile to me to use, and I plan to continue using it (I bet I can create something without green in it, too!) — as it keeps the process of designing images simple and gives me what I need.

What do you use to create visuals for you social media accounts?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with Lisa on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.