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Nearly all the information I can find about Standard Manuscript Format for poetry is described in terms of the visual appearance of the page. For stanzas, a space equal to the size of one line of text should occur after each and before the next.

What's the standard for how to create that space, with a word processor? Is it still just two line returns, or is this now preferably done with paragraph styles?

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I'm finding your question disturbing. It's poetry for goodness sake! – SF. Oct 2 '13 at 7:17
Current industry standard is to use a Stanza Stretcher and winch them apart by 120% of the type size. (Brits use 134%, I forget why -- something to do with the metric conversion.) You can pick one up at any decent stationery shop. I like the Forsooth by Shakespeare brand; I've had one for about 20 years now and it's still accurate. – Lauren Ipsum Oct 2 '13 at 11:43
SF, Lauren, however poetic OP's poetry is, if he's submitting it professionally he quite correctly wants it to look perfect. You don't submit an MS in crayon, and if submitting a poetry MS could benefit from word-processing styles, that's useful information. – Standback Oct 2 '13 at 14:22
(That said, I think describing paragraph styles as a "standard" might be a slight exaggeration. You probably mean more on the lines of "what looks good, is correct, and is easy to work with?") – Standback Oct 2 '13 at 14:23
@Standback This is an "ask your publisher how they want the ms" question. In Graphic Design it's an "ask your printer" question. There's no "right" answer. – Lauren Ipsum Oct 2 '13 at 16:15
up vote 2 down vote accepted

As a general rule-of-thumb, "hitting the Enter key twice" is never the correct answer to any question about formatting text in a word processor.

That action does not add a line space after the current paragraph, it creates an additional (empty) paragraph. If your workflow (or that of your publisher) carries out any automated task on each paragraph, those extra paragraphs will create problems later. To avoid those problems, do not create empty paragraphs.

If you wish to change the visual appearance of a stanza, then the appropriate way is to modify its paragraph style.

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