Manuscript Format

Some people find it’s not writing a novel or short story that’s the hard part. It’s finding the proper manuscript format.

Truth is, there isn’t one universal standard. While editors may have their own individual preferences, your manuscript’s not going to be thrown into the slush pile just because your margins are 1/4 inch more than someone expected.

However, there is a basic formula publishers usually follow. Use these guidelines to prepare your manuscript:

  • Quality Paper
    Don’t get fancy by using letterhead, but do use a 20 lb. bond paper. Always use plain white paper but don’t be tempted to use typing paper or any other type of erasable paper.
  • One-Inch Margins
    Make sure your margins are one-inch all the way around. Don’t muddy up your manuscript with anything less than one. Your words will become cluttered and even tedious to a busy editor’s eyes.
  • Double-Spaced
    Your entire manuscript should be double-spaced. If you’ve single-spaced your writing in a word processing program, you can easily change your manuscript from single- to double-spaced.
    Select the entire text of your manuscript and then change the line spacing. All of your highlighted text will automatically be converted into a double-spaced format. Be sure to consult the help section in your word processing program for proper instruction.
  • Indented Paragraphs
    Don’t break your paragraphs up by hitting the ENTER key a couple of extra times. New paragraphs should be indicated by indents.
    You can use the TAB function in your word processing program to set these indents. When you’re done with a paragraph, hit ENTER once, indent and begin your new paragraph.