Congratulations, you’ve finished your manuscript and you’re ready to send it to an agent, a publisher, or even your editor. However, have you formatted it appropriately? If you haven’t, I suggest you do, as this will impress the agents and publishers, and even your editor, as they won’t have to do it for you (and then charge you for it!).

  1. Ensure your manuscript has a footer/header with your name and the title of your manuscript.
  2. Create a cover page for your manuscript. So the first page of your manuscript should only have the title, your name, the word length, your contact details (address, phone number).
  3. Your manuscript should be 1.5-line space.
  4. Font should be 12 points, and generally use Calibri, Ariel, or Helvetica, as these are easier to read.
  5. There should be only one space between sentences (not two).
  6. Chapter headers should be centred and bold, and they should follow on from a page break (always finish a chapter and add a page break so that the new chapter starts on a new page). Don’t use any creative, colourful, different fonts for the chapter headers – keep them styled in the same font as the body text, and just bold and perhaps make them a size 14 or 16 font.
  7. Left align the first paragraph of each chapter, as well as after a paragraph break.
  8. All following paragraphs of the same style should start slightly indented.
  9. Keep paragraphs of the same style together. (Don’t have line spaces between them.)
  10. All dialogue should be indented and there should be a paragraph return between different character dialogues, not a paragraph ‘break’ (or line break).
  11. Only use one paragraph break between different scenes/time lapses etc. (Don’t use asterisks/other designs etc. as well.) Best to keep your manuscript clean and easy to read.
  12. And if your character is expressing a ‘direct thought’ put it in italics. For example: I hope that doesn’t happen to me, I thought.

Here’s an example of paragraph styling:

presentation manuscript

An example of how your manuscript should be presented and styled.

So there you have it, some simple tips to make your manuscript look like a printed book. This is how it will look when it is typeset, so it’s best to get it looking like it’s ready for the world as early in the process as you can!

Happy writing!

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