New speaker, new line

If your text is to flow naturally, the typographical conventions need to be observed as well. It’s not just about getting the wording right.

Starting a new speaker on a new line is definitely the norm. Even on websites and in brochures and other places where space is tight.

  • when the speaker changes: “Hi!” said John. “How’s life?” Pete replied. “Great.”
    => I’m losing track of who’s said what.
  • when someone starts speaking (even if you introduce it with “Gerben adds” or something like that)

I’ve yet to see it done in a Dutch novel, though. But it’s not simply a question of space not being at a premium in a book. Quotes and interviews in quite lengthy articles where space doesn’t matter are prone to run lines together too.

Prevalence: high. Strangely, given that it’s not really good form in Dutch either.
Frequency: high. Generally turns up consistently throughout a document.
Native: no. Although if you’re using CAT (software to assist human translation), you often can’t control and change the line ends and other layout.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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