Manuscript Format

  • Skip the Fancy Fonts

Don’t mix and match fonts within your manuscript. Choose an easy to read font like Arial or Times New Roman

and stick to it throughout the length of your manuscript.

A 12-point font size is the best for manuscripts. This size keeps most letters from being cramped together.

Special Rules for Short Stories

  • Type your name, address, phone, fax and Email (single-spaced) in the upper left-hand corner of your first page. Your approximate word count should be typed in the upper right-hand corner. Center the title of your short story halfway down the page in a larger font (14- or 16-point font size). You can even use bold if you like.After you’ve typed your title, skip two lines – still centered – type your name in a smaller font than that of your title. Take off your centering function, skip two lines after your name and begin your short story on the same page.

Special Rules for Books

  • You must include a cover page with your manuscript. Make sure all of the following information is centered on the page. Halfway down the page, type the title of your book. Skip two lines and type your name or pseudonym. Skip another two lines and type your real name, address, phone, fax and Email. Skip about three lines and type the approximate word count.The first page of each chapter should begin halfway down the page with the title or number of the chapter placed before your text. The remaining pages of each chapter can take up the full page.Each page only requires a running header (see below). You don’t need to list your complete contact information on every page.
  • Running Headers
    Short stories and books all require running headers. They should be placed in the upper left hand corner of every page.A running header simply contains three items:

    1. Your Last Name
    2. Title of Your Project*
    3. Page Number

    * If the title of your project is too long, then you can choose a keyword from that title to identify your work.

    Let’s look at Michael Connelly’s A Darkness More Than Night as an example of a running header. If we truncated his long title, we might use the word “Darkness” to describe his novel.

    The running header on page 143 of his manuscript would read:

    Connelly/Darkness/143

  • Page Numbers
    If you’re preparing your book’s manuscript, then you’ll want all of your page numbers to be in order. Don’t number your pages according to the chapter.For instance, you wouldn’t use 4-9 to indicate Chapter 4, Page 9 on your manuscript. If this is the 85th page, then it’s the 85th page of your entire manuscript. Don’t label each chapter’s page numbers at all.

Preparing your manuscript can be as frustrating as searching for that perfect word to include in your story. Using these simple guidelines will help you get to the next step of the process: waiting by the mailbox.

Debate of the Arial Font
Many writers argue Arial is an unacceptable font in your manuscript. But some publishers are now saying they prefer the Arial font. In the days of typewriters, publishers had no choice but to read manuscripts in the typical font format. That’s all changing and many publishers have specified their desire to see manuscripts in Arial. When in doubt, check the publisher’s specifications.