Getting ready to send your book to the publisher? Great, but DO THIS FIRST!
Whether you start formatting from the first word or when you’re done writing, the rules are the same.
When you format is up to you; How you format matters much more.
These standard formatting practices and common submission guidelines apply to fiction and non-fiction so follow them closely.
1. Font: Your font should generally be Times New Roman 12 point; that is the industry standard. There are some agents and editors who prefer different serif or sans serif fonts like Arial or Courier New, but your safest bet is Times New Roman 12 point.
2. Margins: Your pages should have a one-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right). These should be the default margins in MS Word and other word processors. If not, set them manually.
3. Indentations: The first line of a new paragraph, should be indented half an inch. For most word processors, you can do this by hitting the tab key once. Do not hit the space bar five times.
4. Line spacing: The entire manuscript should be double spaced. Set that early so you don’t forget. Double-spacing your lines makes the manuscript easier to read and mark up. Do not add an extra space between paragraphs.
5. Alignment: Use left align. Do not justify or y o u w i l l g e t t h i s, and that looks silly.
6. Page numbers: Page numbers are sequential and begin on the first new page after the title page. Pages in the front matter, such as the table of contents, copyright page, or ISBN info are numbered with Roman numerals.
7. Scene breaks: For scene breaks, add a blank line with a hash mark or three asterisks in the center to indicate a new scene.
8. Italics: In the past, writers used to underline words that they intended to italicize. Nowadays, writers simply use italics.
9. Sentence separation: Use one space between sentences after a period. Though many writers still hit the space bar twice to put two spaces between sentences, this is no longer accepted practice.
10. Ending: To indicate the end of your manuscript, write the word “END” and center it after the last line.
11. Page size: You should use the standard page size of 8.5 by 11 inches.
Whew! That seems like a lot, doesn’t it? However, it’s necessary and you’ll be so glad you did it!
I hope you enjoyed this post and tune in again soon for more great, useful stuff!
Christine – Guest blogger and editor