How To Format Your Manuscript Professionally

by Aug 8, 2021books, ebooks

What is the Manuscript Format?

 A manuscript is a piece of writing in the form of a literary work to be submitted for publication. With the advent of computers and desktop publishing, manuscripts currently take the popular form of .docx files from Word processors such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Manuscript formatting includes the style and aesthetics of your written work such as how it looks and how it appeals to your readers. Such quality is achieved through having the proper typeface, font size, page color, word count, page number, line spacing, and paragraph styling. Simply put, formatting your manuscript means making sure that your manuscript will look professional for publishing in print and/or digital media.  

Formatting your manuscript properly can be just as important as creating its content since in the field of professional publishing, a poorly formatted manuscript may result in one of these three outcomes: 

  • Editors and publishers may think you are unprofessional 
  • Improper formatting of your manuscript may lead to misunderstandings with your editor 
  • You may be charged higher fees by editors as an improperly formatted manuscript will make their work more time consuming

On the brighter side, there is always room for improvement for the open-minded. Through this guide, we’ll be teaching you how to meet the professional and industrial standards of manuscript formatting to make the process easy for you and for anyone you will work with.

1.) Using a standard Font

Arial or Times New Roman is most commonly used when it comes to proper manuscript formatting wherein Arial is used for digital or e-copies for being non-serif, thus, making it easier to read on the screen while Times New Roman is a serif font, which makes it easier to read on printed versions.  

2.) Using Black Text & White Background

Though this is pretty obvious, always remember that you should submit your manuscript with a black text and white background unless font colors are necessary in conveying your written message.

3.) Font Size: 12

 “12” is considered to be the best font size for your manuscript due to it being the most readable for most editors and publishers.

4.) 8.5 x 11 Page Size

This is considered to be the default page size for most word processors that is also accepted by most editors and publishers so it is best to use it or do not alter the default settings. 

5.) One Inch Margins

Using a 1-inch margin for every side of the page is considered to be one of the standards of manuscript formatting for easy reading and editing.

6.) Left Justified Alignment

You might have heard of it, but do not confuse it for “full justified alignment”, where each line has the same length. Though it is common for books to be formatted in a fully justified alignment, do not do that to your manuscript. 

7.) One Space after every period

Always remember that it should only be one space and not two spaces after every period. 

8.) Double-Spaced Text Lines

It is common for editors to prefer editing manuscripts that have double line spacing. This is because it is much easier for editors to read and evaluate your work. 

9.) A paragraph in a classic manner

The classic style of paragraph styling consists of having an indention at the beginning, and having no spaces in between the new paragraphs. They are commonly used for novel and short story manuscripts.  

10.) A paragraph in a modern style

The opposite of the classic style, having no indent at the beginning and has a space between paragraphs that is usually used in non-fiction manuscripts. 

11.) Breaking the page between chapters

Instead of pressing “Enter” multiple times to start a new chapter, use the “Page Break” function to automatically add a new page thus separating your chapters more efficiently. 

12.) Numbering your pages

Page numbers serve as the best way to reference sections of your manuscript when being edited and evaluated by editors. Though there is a search function, nothing beats conventional page numbers for easy navigation. 

13.) Sending your Manuscript in a single document

Feel free to write various sections of your manuscript in different document files if that suits you best but make sure to compile it into one document in the correct sequence before submitting to editors, formatters or publishers.

14.) The power of style function in formatting headings

Do you want to have a chapter title or subheading that stands out? Authors usually make the font size bigger and set it in bold text one by one which could be time consuming, error prone and inconsistent. 

Luckily, there is a better way of doing it more systematically. Through the paragraph style function found in all Word processors, not only can we make it aesthetically pleasing, but also as consistent as it should be. 

15.) Having the proper title page layout

The title page is the first page of your manuscript; thus, it is important to have it properly labeled for your editor. Such labels include the book title, subtitle, author name and publisher name, if applicable.  

These are the most common guidelines that apply to most authors and book genres but remember that as author and mastermind, you are the boss and have the final say as to how you would like your message to be conveyed to your target audience.


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