How To Format A Manuscript Submission

Last night, during our writing group meeting, a few of our newer members submitted work without proper manuscript formatting. I know you can search the internet and find proper submission formatting guidelines, but I thought it might be worthwhile to go over the HOW of formatting instead of the WHAT.

Why? When one of our members said something about incorrect line spacing, the writer said he had used double spacing between the paragraphs. From the appearance of both writers' work, I believe they used the default line spacing of 1.08 and hit ENTER twice after each paragraph. Unfortunately, that is not double spacing a document.

The Basic Guidelines

When submitting to an agent, publisher, or writing contest, you should always read their formatting guidelines. Most require the following:
  • Font: Times New Roman or Courier 
  • Font Size: 12 point 
  • Margins: 1 inch top, bottom, left, and right 
  • Spacing: Double 
  • Alignment: Left with First Line Indent 


Since the issue last night involved paragraph formatting, I'll focus on line spacing and alignment and add in font formatting for good measure.
: If you are formatting an existing document, use the keyboard short-cut, CTRL+A, to select the entire document before performing the steps below.

To double-space your document ( Instruction step numbers correspond to the numbered arrows in the image below.)
  1.  Select the Home tab on the ribbon
  2. Click the launch button in the Paragraph group (small box with arrow in bottom right corner of Paragraph group)
  3. Locate the Spacing section of the dialogue box
    1. Click on the Line Spacing dropdown arrow and select Double
    2. Make sure that Before and After Spacing are set to 0 
  4. Select OK 

To set a First Line Indent for your paragraph (Step numbers correspond to the numbered arrows in the image above.)
  1. Select the Home tab on the ribbon
  2. Click the launch button in the Paragraph group
  3. Locate the Indentation section of the dialogue box
    1. Select the Special drop down arrow
    2. Choose First line from the list
  4. Select OK
To set Font and Font Size
  1. Locate the Font group on the Home tab of the ribbon (this is just to the right of the red arrow marked 1 in the image above)
  2. Select the dropdown in the Font list (currently Calibri (Body) in the image above)
  3. Scroll down and select Times New Roman
  4. Select the dropdown in the Font Size list (currently shows 11)
  5. Select 12

These three tips should get you on the right track for formatting.  If done properly, your document should look like this:

(Text from a previous post)

Do you have a formatting or WORD functionality question? I've been teaching Microsoft Office applications for over 20 years and will be glad to help with your questions. Please leave them in the comments of this blog so others can see your question and my response.


Phil Arnold said…
Thanks for spelling this out. Maybe we should print out a couple of copies to take to the meetings for new memners.

One point. In your illustration there is a box titled "Don't add space between paragraphs of the same style." I think you should mention this. The text illustration you show must have had this box checked, because there is no extra space added. I'm pretty sure this is the correct way to do it.

For what it's worth, I published my novel with the box unchecked. My book seemed so skinny, I used the extra spacing between paragraphs to get me a few more pages. Perhaps you know another reason why a writer would want the extra space between paragraphs.
Phil, the checkbox should remain unchecked. If it's checked, only the first paragraph of the highlight will receive the formatting.

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