Style Guidelines

Below is the preliminary outline of 'rules' we use to edit our publications. We encourage our authors to prepare their work with these guidelines in mind to save us time as we move from submissions to publication.

Watch for an expansion of this page into a style guide WIKI.

  1. Chicago Manual of Style – In the absence of a HAL 9000, we primarily rely on the CMOS to resolve typographical, spelling, abbreviations, punctuation and grammar questions. There are a few exceptions and the decision of PGWI editors is final.
    Below are some notable exceptions and bug-a-boos:
    1. Use of Hyphen, EN Dash and EM Dash – Use these guidelines where they vary from CMOS:
      1. A standard hyphen '-' is used between hyphenated words, no spaces. Example: Non-starter.
        1. We always hyphenate "e" words such as 'e-mail' and write out other techie words such as 'voice mail'.
      2. An EM Dash used to set off an appositive phrase or aside is always padded with a space on either side. Example: Marky — who loves to show off — dropped his pants for a laugh in the second act.
      3. Otherwise, an EM Dash does not have surrounding spaces, such as when indicating a numerical or date range or when indicating an interruption in dialog.
        The magic pearl was lost sometime between 1220—1230 (although most often, in prose, our editors would suggest replacing the EM dash with "to" or "and" depending on context).
        "But I'm not sure—" "Shut up!" he yelled.
      4. We only use multiple dashes to denote missing information (see chart below).
      5. IF YOUR TEXT EDITOR DOES NOT SUPPORT EN or EM DASHES you may replace use multiple hyphens and we will search/replace them for you:  EN DASH = "--" or EM DASH = "---"
      6. See chart below for more details.
    2. Dialog Quotation – We subscribe to standard, old-fashioned double quotes without spaces to both open and close the dialog passage.
      1. Some new writers and non-USA writers use a padding space inside the quotes or don't close the quotation at all. Please follow these examples: 
        "Let me recharge your phaser," Spock offered.
        Kirk replied, "No, I'm good."
      2. There is ALWAYS a punctuation mark before the end quote of dialog. An ordinary sentence is ended with a comma/close-quote if there is a tag, unless the quote needs a question or exclamation mark. Example: 
        "Can you please leave me alone?" she asked.
        "No," he countered, "I won't."
    3. Parentheses – For the most part our editors will remove parentheses, preferring to set the aside or appositive text in commas or EM dashes.
      Davin winked at me — I'm a total sucker for winking men! — as he left the room.
      1. We follow the APA Style for punctuation with parentheses. This page explains it well:
      2. Braces and brackets should not be used in creative writing, except perhaps in the context of quoting a scientific document.
    4. When to use italics, underline and bold
      1. All foreign words should be in italic, including the punctuation marks.
        Example:  Bien sûr!
      2. When you wish to emphasize a word in dialog. Do NOT use bold or underline for this.
        Example: "I will never stop loving you!"
      3. When quoting dialog that is unspoken. Do not use quotes in this case.
        Example: Just go away, she thought.
      4. Occasionally italics might be used for an entire section when a paragraph or more is a flash-back in the context of the character is remembering.
      5. Only use underline in the context of referencing a titled work within the prose as per CMOS. Do not use it for emphasis. (sic irony)
      6. Bold should only be used in a title, as per the editor's typographical style. Do not use bold in the text!
    5. Punctuation – Here are several sticky punctuation tips we enforce:
  2. American Spelling – In most cases, American spelling of certain words is preferred over Canadian or British spelling.
    1. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis dependent upon the story's locale or historical context.
    2. Minimal usage of alliterated dialect and slang is encouraged. However, "y'all" is real word and may be used anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.
    3. Foreign words — used for 'color' — from Western European languages such as Spanish, French, German, etc. will be rendered properly in their language as the special characters are available in the typeset software. Otherwise they will be transliterated as close as is reasonable. Asian, Arabic, Greek or other non-western typesets are not be supported — please use a transliteration for such words.
    4. Elven, Dwarfish, or speech from Planet-X-sector-5 must be rendered with the standard English character set.







As a bullet in a list.


No space on left, space on right.

— First thing

— Second thing

A preferred alternative to parentheses around a phrase (such as an aside or appositive) in the middle of a sentence, especially in dialog.


The dash is used in place of parentheses with a single space on either side of the dash. This follows AP style.


*The typesetter may replace the EM dash with the shorter EN dash to improve the look, depending upon the type-font and style of the layout.

Johnny — the boy from the drug store — gritted his teeth and swore.

Replace a parentheses or comma at the end of a sentence — depending upon amount of pause needed in the thought.


The dash is placed only at the beginning of the phrase — a single space on either side — with the sentence's punctuation at the end.

She avoided my eyes (as usual).

She avoided my eyes, as usual.

She avoided my eyes — as usual.

Option to replace a semi-colon to separate independent clauses. Preferred in dialog.


A single dash replaces the semi-colon with a space on either side.

The view was incredible; I will never forget it.

The view was incredible — I will never forget it.

Replace a colon (before a list or logical conclusion) — typically preferred in narrative works.


The dash is placed as above.

Everything depended on a roll of the dice — my fortune, freedom, and even my life.

To denote an interruption in dialog, with or without an incomplete word. Also used if the speaker interrupts himself to start a new thought in the middle of a sentence.


The dash is placed after the last word or partial word, followed by the close-quote with no spaces.

"But I was just
"Don't think, do!"

To indicate a pause in dialog, see ellipsis below.




To designate intentionally omitted (redacted) information.


For a missing part of a word use TWO dashes — no space on the left or between with one space on the right.

For missing whole word or words, use THREE dashes together, with a space at the beginning and end.

Sir J—— was in attendance.


"I only heard on the tape, 'Meet me at ——— bar on Tues——' "





In dialog, to represent a pause between thoughts, while speaker is thinking, or perhaps action.


At the point of pausing (with a full word) place three dots with spaces between and on either side.

If a new sentence follows the pause, start it with a capital letter.

"I was wondering . . . why you say that."

"I can't believe . . . Did you mean Frank Jones?"

In quoted text, to represent missing words.


If the missing text is at the beginning or end of a quote, there should not be a space between the ellipsis and the quote mark.

In the middle of the quote, the ellipsis should have spaces at both ends.

Doesn't the Bible say "Love they neighbor . . ."?


"To be . . . that is the question!"






Below are resources PGWI editors use that they hope will be of help to our authors. Note that PGWI does not officially 'endorse' these sites and has not recieved any compensation for listing them here.