Friday, 30 July 2010

Editing 101: Formatting your manuscript

So you've finished writing and have edited for style and mechanics as discussed in previous posts, not it's time to format your manuscript before sending it off to agents and publishers. Formatting requests can vary from publisher to publisher so it's always worth checking submission guidelines. Follow the points below and you can't go wrong:

  • use paragraph styles (not spaces or tabs) to indent your paragraphs; every word processor will have paragraph styles so establishing your required settings once will apply to the entire manuscript
  • don't use fancy fonts; most publishing houses will prefer Times New Roman size 12
  • use italics only to place emphasis on a particular word to give that word or sentence a certain meaning. In some books, italics are used for thoughts, but if you have plenty of thoughts you may want to reconsider using italics as it may distract the reader
  • use ellipses or the em dash when trailing off or when there's a pause in speech such as someone interrupting
  • make sure there's only one space between words and after end punctuation
  • use quotation marks for direct speech
  • generally, manuscripts should be double-spaced with every new chapter starting on a new page. Don't forget to include your surname and the name of the book in the header and page numbers in the footer
To your publishing success!

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