Avoiding Formatting Pitfalls

Creating dialogue on a page is easy. Creating dialogue on a page that doesn't confuse the reader is a bit trickier.

There are several pitfalls when formatting the text for the page. Avoiding the following mistakes will make things easier for both you and the person reading your story:

is Placing balloons poorly: Make sure to place word balloons properly in a panel to give the proper flow to the dialogue. Remember that the reader is reading the balloons from left to right (unless you're formatting Japanese-style, in which case, it's right to left) and from top to bottom. So, you want to make sure that the dialogue balloons are placed in the right order in a panel, or the dialogue might inadvertently cease to make sense. See Figure 124 for an example.

v* Overcrowding a panel with too many balloons or balloons that are too large: Try not to overcrowd a panel with balloons, as shown in Figure 12-5. Dialogue can become confusing to the reader if the art and balloons become too cramped inside a panel, especially when if you're trying to have more than one person speaking. You should either try to limit the amount of dialogue in a panel, or if that's unavoidable, be sure to format the panels to accommodate. To save yourself headaches, check to see if you created enough room for the dialogue in the rough layout stage.

is Making balloons too small for the text: Give your text some breathing room. Much like overcrowding a panel with too much text, you can confuse the reader if you try to cram too much text in a small balloon, as shown in Figure 12-6. Make sure that the word balloon is large enough to fit the dialogue, but not so small that the text is butting up to the borders. How much space you want to place between the text and the balloon borders is subjective, but try to find a buffer in between too cramped and too much space (to the point it hides artwork). Basically find a happy medium that's comfortable enough for you to read on the page. Odds are, it will also feel comfortable for your readers, is Cramming too much text into one balloon: Try not to cram too many sentences into one balloon. It isn't much fun trying to read a large block of text in a comic. You can lose the pacing you're trying to convey if the character's speech is smooshed into one large balloon.

If you can, try to limit dialogue within a balloon to no more than two sentences. (Optimally, you should have only one sentence per balloon.) You can always daisy-chain balloons together so that the reader understands that the character is giving a long speech.

Figure 12-5:

Too much dialogue can crowd things in a small panel.

f Wyou try lo cram too mudi tent into a really I small space, it's going to get really cramped.

Really REALLY cramped. ^ And this is just ME!

vCould you imagine i if there were jJWO people in hete?

f Wyou try lo cram too mudi tent into a really I small space, it's going to get really cramped.

Figure 12-5:

Too much dialogue can crowd things in a small panel.

f* Placing line breaks in incorrect or awkward places: Avoid odd line breaks. This probably seems like an odd suggestion; it's only breaking the text up to fit the dialogue, right?

To a point, you'd be right. The problem is that when you throw those line breaks in odd places, they can result in a sentence reading awkwardly. That can throw your reader out of the story, and that's never a good thing.

Try to avoid the scenarios shown in Figure 12-7.

Taking the time to make sure your little cluster of text is easy to read can be just as important as providing enough padding within the word balloon. The key to all these suggestions and warnings is reader comfort. Readers should be focusing their energy on what's going on in the scene, not on trying to figure out how the text is supposed to be read. Otherwise, they're not going to care about the world you've spent months creating.

/The \


Figure 12-6:

is too


t small

buffer space

\for this

to a word





easier to


Extra padding around the text is easier on the

Figure 12-7:

Try to avoid line breaks in your text that result in these examples.

f Placing line breaks In \ ( odd places can make the ) \senterce read awkwardly/

Finally, avoid text Islands that can appear If you are not centering your text.

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