Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Formatting a Manuscript

There's a section in the May/June edition of Writer's Digest on how to format your manuscript, and I was surprised (and embarrassed) at some of the guidelines! Brian A. Klems, the editor discussing manuscript formatting, pulls his information from Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, a book by Writer's Digest that, more embarrassingly, I own.

So, what are the rules of thumb?

  1. Use a title page.
  2. Begin numbering with the first page of the text of the book, usually the introduction, prologue, or chapter 1 (don't number the title page).
  3. On each page insert a header that includes your name, the title of your novel in all caps, and the page number.
  4. Start each new chapter on its own page, one-third of the way down the page.
  5. The chapter number and chapter title should be should be in all caps, separated by an em dash. For example: CHAPTER 1--THE BODY.
  6. Begin the body of the chapter four to six lines below the chapter title.
  7. Indent five spaces for each new paragraph.
  8. Double-space all text.
  9. Use standard font (such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier), 12-point type.
The ones in bold were the ones new to me!

Brian notes that guidelines may change for each agent or market, so hopefully I'm not as dense as this article makes me out to be!


  1. I'm trying to go by Scrivener's suggestions now. Before, I fit everything to smashword guidelines.

  2. I've always followed William Shunn's guidelines, though I've yet to format a novel. A few of these are new to me, too. Does the article weigh in on the double-versus-single-space after a period debate?

    1. It's single space per the Chicago Manual of Style. They changed it a few years back. :)

  3. I had this same revelation a couple months ago. Cassandra Marshall made a checklist and put it up on her blog. It's awesome and incredibly helpful:


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