BelleBooks Style Sheet

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Bell Bridge Books and BelleBooks Style Sheet

To Authors:

We strive to produce the cleanest, most professionally copy-edited books possible. But we need your help to make sure your manuscript conforms to all the general grammar and punctuation rules.

Once you've signed a contract with us we'd like for you to immediately update your manuscript to meet these basic styles. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. By and large, we use The Chicago Manual of Style as our copyediting bible. Get yourself a copy or visit their website for information.


Deb Smith, Editorial

1. Ellipses

While there's some debate over three dots versus the occasional four dots, etc. we go by this simple, consistent rule:

Three dots. Spaced evenly, also with a space in front of the first and last dot.

Example: She walked to the door . . . and halted.

He carried the coat quickly then . . . . (this isn't a fourth dot. it's a period.)

2. Long dashes, short dashes, hyphens

The "em dash," which is the longest one, is the main one you use in dialogue and narration.

The shorter "en dash"is reserved for linking two elements as in a list.

The hyphen is used for linking two words.

Em dashes are notoriously quirky to type.Most systems will turn two hyphens into an em dash if you hit the return key. Whatever it takes, please fix your em dashes.

Em dashes are used without any spaces on either side.


Em dash: It was a good job—albeit a quick one—that she appreciated.

"Get away from me, and—" she gasped at the thought—"don't darken my doorstep again.”

3. Contractions in front of words

A contraction replaces the missing letter. So if you write "them” as "em” or "because” as "cause” you need a contraction in front. Be sure your system uses a contraction symbol instead of a single quote. You may have to install the contraction manually. Contraction symbols curve the opposite way from a single quote mark.

4. Commas in serial use

This one is debatable, and "Chicago” says otherwise, but we go with this rule:

When writing a list, don't put a comma in front of "and.”

Example: She bought apples, oranges, mangoes and bananas.

Not: She bought apples, oranges, mangoes, and bananas.

5. Commas between independent clauses

We take a relaxed view of commas in general. We give authors some artistic license, as long as the sentence makes sense.

However, there is one basic rule that we always apply:

Commas are always needed between two independent clauses.

Example: He walked the dog, and she groomed the cat.

The ant flew off the branch, but the roach stayed on the ground.

6. Italics

Italics are a spice, not a side dish. Use them sparingly for emotional emphasis.

Titles of songs, TV shows, books, magazines, and newspapers are italicized.

Brand names (Kleenex, Toyota) are not italicized. Brand names are only capitalized.

We italicize quotes from song lyrics and quotes from literature.

We italicize the characters' internal thoughts. Example: What the heck am I going to do? she thought.

We italicize sound effects. Example: They heard a loud boom followed by hissing pfffft.

Latin scientific terms are italicized.

Foreign words are italicized but only if they're not in common use. So "Ciao!” is in italics, but "tortilla'” is not.

7. Writing numbers

Spell out numbers up to ninety-nine. After that, use numerals instead, unless you're quoting a simple, round figure.

Example: The nine of us were each fifteen years old, but there were a thousand, or maybe just 999, reasons we were friends.