Stylize Text in Atticus

The art of storytelling doesn’t stop at the words you choose; it extends to how those words are presented on the page. Whether you’re looking to accentuate key points, organize information, or add an aesthetic touch to your chapters, a variety of text options are at your disposal.

From creating clear hierarchies with subheadings and emphasizing unique elements, to organizing your thoughts with lists, or setting the right tone with different alignments and special formatting options – mastering these tools can bring your words to life in a whole new way.

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. No matter where you are in your writing journey, these skills will equip you to craft a manuscript that’s not only beautifully written but beautifully presented.

The Writing Toolbar

Once your book is imported or written in Atticus, the main toolbar offers you a variety of options to stylize the text within your pages and chapters. 

You’re likely already familiar with many of the options, as they’re similar to what you would see in a standard word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. The first three options, for example, are Bold, Italics, and Underline.

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Next, if you hover over the arrow in the toolbar, you will find additional formatting options that can be applied 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. 

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Monospaced Text

Monospaced text, where each character occupies the same amount of horizontal space, can serve various purposes in both fiction and non-fiction books, providing both functional and aesthetic benefits.

In non-fiction, monospaced text is often used when presenting code, equations, or tabular data. Because each character in monospaced fonts takes up the same amount of space, they ensure proper alignment and easy readability of such information. It’s common in textbooks, technical manuals, and academic papers that deal with computer science, mathematics, or any field where precise alignment of text is required.

In fiction, monospaced text can be used creatively to evoke a specific atmosphere or mimic certain types of communication. For instance, it can be used to represent typewritten letters, telegrams, or computer code, providing a visual cue to the reader and adding depth to the narrative. Some authors may also use monospaced text to set apart certain sections of the narrative, like flashbacks or dream sequences, creating a distinct visual style that distinguishes these sections from the rest of the narrative.

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Small Caps

Small caps, a typographic option where lowercase letters appear as smaller versions of uppercase letters, can add a layer of sophistication and readability to both fiction and non-fiction books.

In non-fiction works, small caps are often used for stylistic emphasis or for creating a clear, visual distinction without the stark contrast of full uppercase letters. They can be used in subheadings or for key terms, ensuring that these elements stand out without disrupting the flow of the text. In academic or professional texts, small caps are frequently used for certain abbreviations or acronyms.

In fiction, small caps can be used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your text and to emphasize or distinguish certain elements of your narrative. For instance, they might be used for the first few words of a chapter, for certain character’s speech, or to represent certain sounds or noises within the story. 

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Sans Serif Fonts

Incorporating sans serif text excerpts within a book predominantly set in a serif font can add visual interest and help to highlight specific elements of your content.

In non-fiction books, stylizing a passage with sans serif font can contrast with the main serif font, to draw the reader’s attention to this section, similar to a pull quote.

In fiction, sans serif text can be used creatively to distinguish different narrative elements. For instance, it might be used for diary entries, letters, or text messages within the story to visually differentiate these from the main narrative. This can help the reader quickly understand that the format or perspective of the narrative has changed, enhancing the clarity and immersive quality of the story.

Regardless of the genre, when used strategically, sans serif text in a predominantly serif font book can guide the reader’s attention and create a more engaging and dynamic layout that enhances the reading experience.

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NOTE: Depending on the font you are using for your Writing preferences, it may be difficult to see the subtle differences in sans serif font, but if you change to a font like Open Dyslexic, for example, you will see the clear difference in font types. How it shows up in your book will depend on the font you have chosen for printed version of your book.

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Subscript, Superscript, And Strikethrough

Subscript and superscript text, where characters are smaller and either slightly below or above the line of type, are often utilized in both fiction and non-fiction books, each serving specific purposes.

In non-fiction, particularly in academic or technical writing, subscript and superscript are essential. In scientific and mathematical contexts, both subscript and superscript are vital for notations, for example. Chemical formulas often use subscript to indicate the number of atoms (e.g., H2O), while mathematical exponents are typically in superscript (e.g., E=mc^2).

In fiction, the use of subscript and superscript is less common but can be used creatively. Superscript could be used for a character’s thoughts or whispered words, visually distinguishing these from the main narrative. Subscript could be used in a similar way, or perhaps to indicate smaller, background noises or actions. These tools can add depth to the narrative and offer a creative way to guide the reader’s attention, as long as you’re careful not to remove them from the flow of your narrative by being too gimmicky or artsy.

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Strikethrough text, where a horizontal line runs through the center of the text, can serve as a unique and powerful tool.

In non-fiction, strikethrough is often used to indicate corrections or updates, demonstrating the progression of thought or the resolution of errors. It can provide transparency in academic or professional texts, allowing readers to see the evolution of an idea or data. It can also be used for a more stylistic or humorous purpose, suggesting a thought was initially considered but then dismissed.

In fiction, strikethrough can be used creatively to provide insight into a character’s thought process. It might represent self-censorship, second thoughts, or internal conflict. For example, an author might use strikethrough to show a character drafting a letter, revealing their hesitations and revisions. This technique can add depth to characterization and contribute to the narrative in a unique way.

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In non-fiction books, subheadings are a powerful organizational tool. They break down complex ideas into manageable sections, making it easier for readers to follow your argument or understand your subject matter. Subheadings also provide a roadmap of your content, allowing readers to scan your work and quickly locate the information they’re interested in. They are particularly useful in how-to books, textbooks, and academic writing, where clear, concise information delivery is key.

In fiction, subheadings are less common but can be used creatively to enhance storytelling. They can indicate shifts in time, location or point of view, or provide titles to individual scenes or vignettes. This can add a level of clarity for readers, preventing confusion when narratives are complex or non-linear. Some authors use subheadings to build suspense or highlight a thematic element, adding depth to the narrative.

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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.

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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.

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Left, centered, and right aligned text each serve specific purposes and can greatly impact the readability and aesthetic appeal of your book. 

When left aligned, the left side of the text will be flush with the left margin of the page and the right side will be jagged. Right aligned will be the opposite, with the right side of the text aligned with the right margin and the left side jagged. Center aligned text is centered to the page, within the margins, with both sides of the text being jagged.

In non-fiction books, left alignment is the most common as it provides a consistent starting point for each line, making the content easy to read. Right alignment is less common but may be used for captions, sidebars, or for aesthetic purposes in more design-focused books. Centered alignment is often used for titles, subheadings, or to highlight specific pieces of information, such as quotes or data in infographics.

In fiction, left alignment is standard for the main body of text for the same readability reasons. However, centered text might be used for chapter titles, section breaks, or for stylistic emphasis within the narrative. Right alignment is rare in fiction but could be used creatively to indicate a shift in perspective or to represent a particular form of communication, such as a letter or diary entry.

NOTE: If you’ve enabled Justification, both sides of left and right aligned text will be flush with the margins.

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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. This can be especially valuable in academic or professional writing, where citing other works is common. Block quotes can also be used to emphasize a particularly powerful or meaningful statement, drawing the reader’s attention and reinforcing your argument or theme.

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.

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Verse formatting, where text is broken into lines and stanzas, plays a significant role in both fiction and non-fiction works, enhancing the reading experience and serving a variety of purposes.

In non-fiction, verse formatting is primarily used when quoting poetry or song lyrics. It respects the original line breaks and stanzaic structure of the quoted material, which is essential for maintaining the rhythm, flow, and meaning of the original work. Also, religious or philosophical texts often use verse formatting to separate complex ideas, making them more digestible and contemplative for the reader.

In fiction, verse formatting can be used in a multitude of creative ways. It might be used when a character is reading, writing, or reciting poetry, or for song lyrics within the narrative. Verse formatting can also be used to convey a dream-like state, a flashback, or to represent the fragmented thoughts of a character. In these cases, it can create a certain mood or rhythm, setting these passages apart from the rest of the narrative and adding depth to the storytelling.

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Hanging Indents

A hanging indent is a formatting style where the first line of a paragraph is flush with the left margin, while all subsequent lines are indented. It’s a subtle yet powerful way to organize text, making it easier to read and visually appealing.

Hanging indents are more common in non-fiction, particularly for reference pages. When listing references or citations, a hanging indent helps in clearly separating the author’s name from the publication details, making it easier for the reader to scan and locate information.

In fiction, hanging indents can be used to set apart long stretches of dialogue, making it easier for the reader to follow the conversation. It’s also very useful when incorporating poetry or songs within the narrative—a hanging indent can help these elements stand out, emphasizing their importance or artistic nature and often follows more traditional poetic line spacing.

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Example: Style a Text Message

One of the most important things to remember is that you can mix and match the styling of your choice for even greater effect. For example, imagine we wanted to convert an exchange of conversation to appear as a text message between the two characters. 

By changing the text to sans serif or monospace, you separate it from the main body content, showing readers it looks like a mobile response. 

To further separate the text, you could also apply Block Quote formatting to the messages and alternate between left and right alignment for each character’s response.

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Mastering the use of text formatting options in Atticus can transform your manuscript into a visually appealing, easy-to-navigate, and engaging work of art. With a variety of tools at your fingertips, you have the ability to stylize your text in ways that not only enhance readability but also deepen the reader’s engagement with your narrative.

From utilizing monospaced fonts and small caps, to employing subscript, superscript, and strikethrough, to implementing creative use of alignment, lists, block quotes, and verse formatting, you can truly bring your storytelling to life. Remember, these tools aren’t just for functional purposes—they’re also artistic choices that can amplify your voice as a writer, enrich your narrative, and elevate your reader’s experience.

So, don’t be afraid to experiment with these formatting options, and see how they can best serve your unique story. Whether you’re writing a comprehensive non-fiction book or an immersive fiction novel, these tools are here to help you craft a beautifully presented manuscript. Happy writing!

Last Updated: 08/28/2023

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