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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How to Beautify Your Manuscript

As you type your manuscript, you have to format it. Knowing how to format a manuscript in the beginning will save you a lot of time and energy later. It’s not that difficult as long as you do it right.

Follow these simple instructions:

* Use a 12-point font. Whether you use Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New is your judgment call.

* Double-space   
* 1-inch margins

* Indent your paragraphs. I like to use .3 for my tabs.
TIP: You don’t have to hit “tab” on your keyboard, though. If you have Microsoft Office, right click your mouse. When a little screen pops up, go to “paragraph” and then click “tab.” You can set the tab to whatever size you prefer (no greater than .5, no less than .3), so whenever you hit the “enter” button to start a new paragraph, it’ll automatically indent for you. 
* Your title page should have your name and contact info in the left corner and in the right corner the word count for your manuscript.


Name                                                                                        Word Count
Phone Number

* 5-7 spaces down from the bottom of your contact info type the title of your book. Add another space and type “by”. Then add one more space and type your writing name. 3-5 spaces down from your name is where you type “CHAPTER ONE” or begin your story if you don’t have chapters.




Your Name

* Create a header for the top of each page. In the left corner type your last name/title of your book in all caps/manuscript, and to the right put the page number.

TIP: Microsoft lets you insert a header that’ll appear automatically on each page. You can also insert page numbers.

Last Name/TITLE/Manuscript                                                Page 1      

* When starting a new chapter go about 7 line spaces down from the header.

CHAPTER ONE -- CHAPTER TITLE (If you’re using chapter titles.)

* After you write the chapter number, go down 3-5 spaces, indent using tab, and start writing the first paragraph.

* When you start a new page, begin typing 2-3 line spaces below the header.

FYI: You don’t have to use these exact line spaces, but using spacing close to it would be wise.
* For words or sentences that need to be italic in a book (such as a character’s thoughts), underline it because it's easier for an editor/agent/publisher to see.

FYI: Sometimes editors/agents don’t think this is necessary, but I still do it this way until I know that specific editors/agents tastes.

* Indicate a scene break with the pound sign or 3-4 centered asterisks.



* At the end of the manuscript, go a few lines spaces under the last sentence (or half-way between the last line and the bottom of the page) and type in all caps:

                                                                 THE END     

*This is an updated version of an article previously posted on my blog, Write with Fey.


LD Masterson said...

Hmmm. I need to double check my formatting. Thanks.

Charity Bradford said...

This is always good to know. What are your thoughts on the automatic first line indent option? I love that because I don't have to remind myself to tab at the beginning of each paragraph when I'm writing fast.

Lux G. said...

Although I'm not into manuscript yet, your posts are helpful for future references. Thanks, Chrys!

Huntress said...

I respectfully disagree about tabs. Different software will turn those tabs into gigantic headaches and your submission will be gobble-de-gook.

Go with Charity's auto-indent. I had one agent scream at me for doing tabs. I'm still shaking.

Janie Junebug said...

Good info. Now, who will write my book for me?


Kristin Smith said...

This is such great information, Chrys! I always use tabs, I'm not familiar with the auto-indent. I guess I'll have to check that out.

Chrys Fey said...

@LD I'm glad to help.

@Charity, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by auto-indent. I do know you can set your tab to a specific size in Microsoft Office, so whenever you hit the "enter" button for a new paragraph it automatically indents. If that's what you mean, I love it!

@SuperLux You're welcome!

@Huntress That's okay. I didn't exactly mean to hit "tab" on the keyboard. I set my indents as .3 which I do in Microsoft Office by going to "paragraph" and then "tabs." But I know some people don't have that, or know how to do that. I'm still using tab when I do that though, so that's what that tip suggests. No indents in a manuscript would be a nightmare!

@Janie You will write your book! :D

@Kristin I'm glad you liked my post. :)

Liz A. said...

To set the automatic indent in Word, you can also go into the ruler at the top of the page and move the little triangle on the top to the spot you want to indent to. I find it easier to do it that way.

dolorah said...

Great formatting tips Chrys. Thanks :)

Nidhi Singh said...

You don’t want to overpower the scene with similes, but creating a couple can make all the difference to your details, Epic research.

Chrys Fey said...

@Liz Thanks for the tip! I've never used that ruler before. :P

@Dolorah Thanks and you're welcome!

@Nidhi That's a quote from my "So You Want to Write Romance" post. :D

Carrie-Anne said...

Ever since I started using 0.3" first indents last year, all my old 0.5" indents suddenly look so huge and wrong, all that wasted extra space. I also had to teach myself to create those automatic indents when setting up a document, since I started using word processing software without that feature. I was so used to just hitting the tab key.

I still have to go back onto my old computer and convert my Pages files into Word 2004 for final formatting, like a hyperlinked table of contents and header styles with space before and after. Pages is NOT the logical successor to MacWriteII, ClarisWorks, or AppleWorks! I downloaded OpenOffice and LibreOffice, but haven't used them yet.

Chrys Fey said...

@Carrie-Anne I agree! .5 for indents, while it's normal and used often, just looks too big. .3 looks much better to me. Oh, gosh! Converting those old files must be a pain.