How to Format your Final Manuscript

I just had the pleasure of formatting my final complete manuscript, so I would like to share how it should be done with other authors. I had to use multiple different sites to obtain concurrence about how something should be formatted as well as just to find ALL the information. Too many websites left out important details so I will ensure that this one is comprehensive.

Title Page

In the top left corner, you should have: Your real name, address, phone number, email address. Top right corner should say: Approx. XX,XXX words. Then centered in the center of the page, it should say TITLE OF BOOK <press enter> by <press enter> Your Name or Pen Name.

NOTE: As much as I wanted to include the cover art for my novel, it has no place here. That is why I believe authors (even unpublished ones) should have a webpage. The agent/publisher should have been given a link to your website during the Query process, which is how you can get them to see it. I will Blog about this later.

Manuscript Header in Microsoft Word

Insert Header, pick Blank. In the top left hand corner type “Your Last Name/TITLE OF YOUR BOOK”. Under the Design tab, check the box for “Different First Page”… this will let you NOT have a Header on your Title Page (which is what you want).

After done entering the info in the left corner, Hit Tab twice. Select Insert Page Number, Current Position, Plain Number. You should edit it so that the page number count starts at 0… this will take into account the title page (and since no header will be displayed on that page) the first page of your manuscript will start with 1.

Entire Manuscript Format

Within Microsoft Word, hit Ctrl + A to select all your text. BE CAREFUL NOT TO DELETE ANYTHING WHILE EVERYTHING IS SELECTED.

Make everything 12 point Font.

Make everything either Times New Roman, Courier, or Courier New Font.

Make everything Double Spaced. Instead of choosing “Double Spaced” as your Line spacing selection, choose “Exactly” and set it to 25 pt.

Make everything have 1″ margins on every side of the page.

At the end of your manuscript, center the word “End” on a page.

All new paragraphs should be indented (TAB over).

Chapters

When you start a chapter, the word “Chapter” should be 1/3 or 1/2 the way down the page. Make sure the way you capitalize Chapter, and/or the way you use the numeric portion is consistent throughout. For example, CHAPTER 1, or CHAPTER ONE, or Chapter 1, or Chapter One.

The first sentence of your chapter should always be indented half an inch (or one TAB over). This is exactly how every new paragraph should start.

In order to keep Chapters starting on their own new page, you should always enter in a Page Break. This can be done by inserting a Page Break through the buttons in Microsoft Word or simply hitting Ctrl + Enter at the end of every Chapter.

Little Things

If your manuscript ever changes POV, use a # in-between the paragraphs to signify it, make sure it is centered on the page.

If there is a break in time, use *** between paragraphs, make sure it is centered.

Some Agents/Publishers are picky about how you format it. Just follow their instructions. If they don’t provide instructions, then follow what I have outlined above. If you are submitting it via e-mail, then you should probably send as a .pdf (unless they request different). If you are printing it out, do NOT print front and back… just do 1 sided printing. And if you print it out, ONLY use plain white paper.

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