What Did You Learn?

August 10, 2011

Getting Published: Formatting Your Manuscript

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 10:35 am

There is nothing more frustrating than reading a manuscript that is improperly formatted. Even worse, it is a nightmare for the design team to work with a manuscript that isn’t done right. It is also a mark of inexperience and lack of research, two qualities an agent/publisher never wants to see in a writer (not that no writers can be new to the publishing industry, but they should do their research if they are).

Margins:
• Margins should be the Microsoft Default (top and bottom 1 inch, left and right 1.25 inches). It should be formatted to look like the actual size of a book.

Font:
• Your manuscript should look as though you typed it. It should not be handwritten or use multiple fonts.
• Make the font 12 pt (Times New Roman or something equally legible with all the letters the same size.) You should not try funky fonts for “atmosphere” or to imitate handwriting.
• Keep the text black on a white background.
• Do not play around with the font for the first letter of new sections or chapters; leave it in the same font and size as the rest of the manuscript (those details are for the designer to do before sending the book to the printers not for the author to do while typing the manuscript).

Spacing:
• Double-space your manuscript. (do not manually create it–Word does not work as a type writer, if you reach the end of the line and have more to say in that paragraph, simply keep typing, Word automatically goes to the next line.) For double-spacing, you go into Format→Paragraph and change line spacing to double.
• Don’t insert extra lines between your paragraphs.

Header:
• Put your name and the title at the top right of every page.
• Include page numbers.

New Paragraphs, Scenes, and Chapters:
• The start of every paragraph should be indented (you can accomplish by pressing the tab button).
• New chapters should begin on a new page (you can accomplish this by going to Insert and then Page Break).
• Make sure it is clear when one section ends and a new scene begins. (Some people do this by simply making a few lines between the paragraphs. Others like to put three stars on a new line between sections or add a number symbol, which represents a blank line.)
• The chapter header can be anywhere from one to six double-spaced lines down from the top of the page, and can be centered or left justified. You can title your chapters, or just write Chapter One or Chapter 1.
• Keep chapter formatting and titling consistent throughout.

Pictures:
• The formatting for everything, including the notes for pictures, should be consistent. The numbering should be in numerical order (no 3a, 2b, 5c).

Cover Page:
• Put the title half-way down the page, centered, with “by Your Name” underneath.
• Include your name, contact information (make sure this includes an email address), and word count.

Printing:
• Only print on one side of the paper.
• Do not staple the pages together.
• Print on nice white standard sized paper.

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