Writing

Text and Paragraph Styling in Atticus

There are many levels for formatting a book. Your theme creates the overall aesthetic, and the organization ensures everything appears in proper order. But the body of your chapters can also showcase your unique narrative style through text and paragraph styling.

Using Atticus, you can accentuate key points or dialogue, organize information, and/or add more visual elements to your chapters.

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how to creatively stylize your text, tailoring your formatting to your story’s unique needs and bringing your narrative vision to life. 

The Writing Toolbar

After importing or writing your book in Atticus, use the main toolbar’s diverse text styling options to enhance your pages and chapters.

The options are similar to standard word processing programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. The first three options, for example, are Bold, Italics, and Underline.

Hover over the arrow in the toolbar to find additional formatting options to apply to to selected sections of text. Your options include:

  • Monospace
  • Smallcaps
  • San serif
  • Subscript
  • Superscript
  • And Strikethrough

To apply any of these formatting options, highlight a section of text in your chapter, hover over the arrow in the toolbar menu, and click on the option you’d like to apply. 

Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Subheadings

Subheadings are crucial in non-fiction for organizing complex ideas, making content more accessible and understandable. They act as a roadmap, enabling readers to quickly find specific information. This is especially beneficial in how-to books, textbooks, and academic works where delivering clear, concise information is essential.

In fiction, while subheadings are less common, they can be used innovatively to enhance storytelling. They can signify shifts in time, location, or perspective, or title individual scenes or vignettes. This clarity is invaluable in complex or non-linear narratives. Authors may also use subheadings to build suspense or underscore thematic elements, enriching the narrative.

Atticus offers five different levels of subheadings, all customizable within your Theme settings. Our Create a Custom Theme tutorial shows you exactly how to choose your Heading Settings.

Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Alignment & Lists

You can find options to adjust the alignment of a particular section of text, or to add a bulleted or numbered list in the next dropdown menu. 

Ordered and unordered lists are most commonly used in non-fiction to present information in a clear, concise, and organized manner.

Unordered List

Unordered lists, or bullet-point lists, are ideal for grouping related items or ideas without implying a particular order. They’re commonly used in textbooks, self-help books, business books, and academic writing to break down complex ideas into digestible chunks, making the content more reader-friendly.

Ordered List

Ordered lists, or numbered lists, are particularly useful for showing a sequence or a set of steps, such as in a how-to guide or a recipe.

Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Formatting Features

There are features you can access from the Writing toolbar that help with the overall formatting and layout of your book as well, in addition to text and paragraph styling. 

We go in depth on layout features like scene breaks, page breaks, and splitting chapters in our formatting tutorial, have an entire post dedicated to creating hyperlinks and social profiles, one designed to guide you through creating and editing footnotes and endnotes, and another wholly devoted to adding images to your content

Callout Boxes

Draw attention to key information in your book with callout boxes in Atticus, enhancing both the visual appeal and readability. They are typically enclosed in a colored box or bordered section, making them stand out from the rest of the content.

How to add a callout box

To start a callout box:

  • You can highlight the text and click the icon in the toolbar.
  • Or click the text bubble in the toolbar and type your message directly into the box.
Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

To customize the callout box:

Click the cog at the top right of the box to select your style preferences.

You can save your unique design as a Preset for future use by simply entering a preset name and clicking save as preset. Preset configurations can be used across all books in your account.

Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Text Messaging

Create dynamic text message conversations between characters to engage readers, using Atticus’s text messaging feature.

Incorporating Text Messages in Your Narrative

  1. Starting a Text Message Dialogue: To add text message dialogue, select your desired text and click the text bubble icon in the toolbar. Alternatively, create a new message by clicking the text bubble icon and typing directly into the dialogue bubble that appears.
  2. Customizing Your Messages: In the text messaging editor, use the options on the left side of the bubble to mark messages as incoming or outgoing, and add the sender’s name for clarity. The sender’s name will appear next to the corresponding text bubble, aiding reader comprehension.
  3. Content and Formatting: Keep in mind, text messages are limited to text only, and formatting options are simplified to ensure a realistic appearance. This helps maintain the authenticity of the messaging format in your narrative.
  4. Choosing a Theme: For added realism, select a theme for the text message interface that mirrors popular operating systems. Whether your characters use iOS or Android-like devices, you can choose the appropriate theme. Click the cogwheel icon at the top right of the text messaging element to select your preferred theme.
Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Block Quote

Block quotes, which are indented and set apart from the main body of text, can serve a variety of functions.

In non-fiction, block quotes are often used to highlight lengthy quotes or excerpts from other sources. They visually separate the quoted material from the author’s own words, making it clear to the reader that this content comes from an external source. 

In fiction, block quotes can be used creatively to distinguish different narrative elements. They might be used for letters, song lyrics, poems, or extended thoughts within the narrative, providing a visual cue to the reader that this text serves a unique purpose. In dialogue-heavy scenes, block quotes can also be used to highlight a monologue or a particularly significant piece of dialogue.

Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Verse

Verse formatting, where text is broken into lines and stanzas, is indented even further from the main body of text, on both sides of the page.

Verse formatting is primarily used when quoting poetry or song lyrics, but it can also be used for religious or philosophical texts.

Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Hanging Indents

In a hanging indent the first line of a paragraph is flush with the left margin and all subsequent lines are indented inward.

They’re  commonly used in non-fiction, especially for reference pages or citations,where hanging indents help in clearly separating the author’s name from the publication details. 

In fiction, hanging indents may be used to set  apart long stretches of dialogue, making it easier for readers to follow conversations, or to add visual emphasis to poetry or song lyrics.

Applying Hanging Indents in Atticus

In Atticus, applying hanging indents is simple:

  1. Select the text you want to format.
  2. Click the Hanging Indent button in the toolbar
Right click to Open image in new tab for a larger image.

Conclusion: Unleash Your Creativity Text Styling

Using easy features to add style to your text and paragraphs gives you the options to bring your readers even deeper into the worlds and psyches of your character’s or topics. 

If you haven’t explored our tutorials to help you format the book layout or customize your theme, those would be great next steps to getting your manuscript publish-ready!

Last Updated: 02/14/2024

Was this tutorial helpful?