Formatting A Manuscript in Microsoft Word

Formatting A ManuscriptA common error for inexperienced writers is formatting a manuscript improperly (at least according to the publisher’s guidelines). Left Hand Publishers use a slight variation of the Shunn format, which most agents and publishers use. On our Manuscript Formatting page, we give you the guidelines we want you to follow in order to format your story correctly. Here we will give you some step-by-step instructions, including a video tutorial.

  1. Change all your text to Times New Roman (or Times Roman) 12 pt. Select all your text by left clicking on it and pressing CTRL A (on a PC) and CMD A (on a Mac). Use the Format menu > Font… to change all your text to Times 12pt.
  2. View Invisible Formatting. In Word Preferences, turn ON Views and View All to see all the invisible paragraph marks, spaces, hidden text, tab marks, etc.
    1. Do NOT use tabs or spaces to indent paragraphs. Your Style should dictate that the first line of your paragraphs are indented .5″.
      1. To Remove spaces to allow for proper indents, go to Edit>Find>Replace and then chose Advanced Find & Replace. in the ‘Replace’ field, type in “^P          ” (and ten spaces, no quotation marks). In the ‘Replace With’ field type in “^P”. Click Replace All. Click OK. This should replace all your paragraph marks, then 10 spaces, with just paragraph marks. Your text may all be over to the left, but that’s okay, we will fix it in a minute.
      2. Click OK and Apply.To Remove tabs to allow for proper indents, go to Edit>Find>Replace and then chose Advanced Find & Replace. in the ‘Replace’ field, type in “^p^t” (no quotation marks). In the ‘Replace With’ field type in “^p”. Click Replace All. Click OK. This should replace all your paragraph marks, then tabs, with just paragraph marks.
    2. Style Formatting A Manuscript in WordFormat Your Text Double Spaced.
      1. Highlight all your body text with your mouse.
      2. Select menu item Format>Style…
      3. Click the New button.
      4. Name your format anything you want, as long as you remember what it is. Easier is better.
      5. Make sure it is Times New Roman, 12 pt., double spaced, left justified.
      6. Paragraph Formatting A ManuscriptClick on Format button in the bottom left-hand corner of the dialog box. Select the Paragraph drop-down.
      7. When the Paragraph dialog box comes up, make sure your body text style is Left justified, Body text, with 0 in the indents and before and after fields, Double spacing and the first line indented by .25″ to .5″.
      8. Click OK and Apply.
    3. Create a Style for your Author Block
      1. Make it single spaced
      2. Make a single tab right justified so when you tab the Word Count, it moves it over to the right of the page.
      3. Click on menu item Insert, scroll down to Field, when the dialog box pops up…
      4. Select Document information in the left-hand window, and NUMWORDS in the right-hand window. This inserts the number of words automatically in the page. When you add more words, the number gets larger.
      5. Click OK.
    4. Create a Style for your Title – centered, bold, no indents
    5. Create a Style for your byline – centered, no indents
    6. Style Organizer formatting a manuscriptSave Styles to your Normal.DOTM template so you can use them in all future Word docs.
      1. Click menu item Format>Style.
      2. When the Dialog box comes up, click on Organizer… in the bottom left.
      3. Highlight all your new styles and click Copy to duplicate them in the Normal.DOTM window.
    7. Insert a Header
      1. Formatting a manuscript headerGo to View menu > Header and Footer. It will take you to the top part of the page.
      2. Scroll down the page till you get to the header of the second page (the first-page header should be blank).
      3. Formatting a Manuscript inserting word countType in your Last name, space, a forward slash, space, a forward slash, space, “Pg., space, [insert word count with #4 below].
      4. Click on menu item Insert, scroll down to Field, when the dialog box pops up…
      5. Select All from the left-hand window in the dialog box.
      6. Scroll down in the right-hand window and select PAGE.
      7. Click OK.
      8. Click Header menu at top of window and click Close.

Left Hand Publishers is NOT a vanity press. We will never ask the writer for an investment or to pay any part of the cost of being published. We provide our publishing services as a percentage of revenue which we participate in, once the work sells. Optional Services are available to writers who need assistance in getting their manuscripts and/or their marketing tools honed for a successful and profitable publishing experience. For various consulting services, outside of publishing, we will provide an estimate in advance at no charge. For more information, contact us at .

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