I am working on a book that is a collection of short science fiction stories for adults. Typesetting in InDesign.

What is the convention or industry standard for the formatting/typesetting of written elements from within the plot of a story, both within one story and across multiple stories in a book? Things like signs, graffiti, documents. In one story there is a sign on the wall and signs on doors, consisting of short phrases (eg. Entrance, The Principal's Office). Later in the story there is a wall covered with graffiti. In another story, I quote several paragraphs from a manual for a machine used by a character. In yet another story there is another sign on a wall that is one paragraph long.

What is the style convention for all this? I know not to use a graffiti font for the graffiti, of course. But specifically, should it be encased in quotes within the sentence?

eg. The old sign on the door said, "Beware of the dog."

Or should it have it's own line with no quotes but set in bold or small caps or something else?


The old sign on the door said:


Should there be a difference in the quoting of different types of written elements in the plot?

eg. An official printed sign on a door is formatted in bold serif font on its own line, and graffiti on a wall in the same story is formatted on its own line in a bold sans serif variation of the same font?

Or should it be kept consistent regardless of the type of words being "quoted"?

Should there be consistency across the stories? Or can each story use a different font for a quoted piece since they quote different things? (In one story a sign is quoted, in another a different kind of sign is quoted.)

And what to do when the item being "quoted" is more than a phrase, but several paragraphs from a manual, for example? Or a whole paragraph on a sign on the wall? Is it a good idea to use a different font that would give the feeling of the manual (it is a very technical type of document, so like a techno font) or is that a bad idea? To give it its own lines, centered, or keep it aligned to and in the paragraph before it?

Thanks in advance!

  • Hi Hamsterball1. Welcome! I don't think there is a "Standard". It all depends upon the designer's / author's / publisher's style or what style the wish to convey. This is kind of like asking what color a book jacket should be... there's no "right" or "wrong" answer, and certainly no "standard" which one can cite. – Scott Jul 9 '19 at 23:47
  • I get what you are saying, but is there not a "best practice" of sorts? eg. it should all be consistent, or not. – Hamsterball1 Jul 10 '19 at 1:03
  • I think this depents on the audience. For youth and children's books publishers tend to play around more with fonts and visual effects but in adult's literature it's usually just plain text. The question is: is it really that important of an information? You wrote it's for adults so I would usually always stick to just letting it be a regular sentence in quotes. Giving it a different font style or weight at most. Sure, if you want to give it a playful look you could let it stand out more by using your exhamples but be aware that it then needs to be consistent. Also it impairs reading fluency. – SabineR Jul 10 '19 at 8:11

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