Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reading competition rules

Update on yesterday's post on reading competition rules correctly.

I have contacted the organisers of the competition in question for clarification.

I asked:

I am a writer, poet and creative writing teacher and I maintain a blog (linked to Facebook and Twitter) for writers on which I often promote current writing and poetry competitions. I have a query about your rules I hope you can clarify for me.

Specifically, Apostrophes and quotation marks are not interchangeable; and titles such as Dr. and Mrs. should have periods.

With the first part of this rule are you saying your preference is for double quotation marks around dialogue – as against the single more commonly used in Britain and Australia?

The Oxford Style Manual, Oxford University Press, 2003.

Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th ed., John Wiley & Sons Australia, 2002.
We generally allow submissions to conform to their country of origin regarding spelling (recognize vs. recognise).'

Periods are no longer used after Mr Mrs Dr abbreviations in Australian or British English and I believe this applies to most countries within the British Commonwealth.

In British English, single quotation marks are used around dialogue and all punctuation marks go outside the quotation marks. Canadian English uses both American and British styles, while writers from Australia use the British, most would not think twice about entering a story in their accustomed style – immediately disqualifying their entry through non conformity.

As this is an international competition, where the entries are to be submitted in English, I wonder if it is not to the disadvantage to those whose normal practice is in accordance with recognised style manuals of their country.

I am not questioning the rules per se, as it is the organiser’s right to determine these, however, clarification of this section would be helpful so entrants would know whether they must convert their entries to comply with American style.

The reply I received makes perfect sense to me and I thank them for their timely and clear response.

'We do not automatically disqualify writers for not following our preferred style of punctuation. In fact, many winning authors each year have grammatical and spelling issues with their entries. However, we do prefer and enjoy receiving entries which are written properly to begin with. The very fact that single quotation marks are called inverted commas or apostrophes, and not quotation marks, to me shows how they should be used. And when I speak of them being interchangeable, we are referring not just to conventional usage in dialogue, but the fact that so many writers (predominantly those from the UK) submit to us using single quotations around dialogue and double quotations in contractions (ie: don"t.) We find this quite irksome and felt it worth noting in the submission guidelines.

The message here is to read the rules carefully and comply with these and, if in doubt, ask the questions before submitting.

~ Merlene Fawdry


  1. Thanks for posting these questions and the reply. When I read your initial post I was unsure that you would receive a reply. I'm please that they have clarified the issue.
    Good Work

  2. Thanks for this information, Merlene. I think the important point you have made here, is we need to ask if we are not sure.


For some reason I'm yet to fathom I'm unable to reply to comments left by others so thank you for dropping by and taking the time to read and comment. Merlene