Welcome to this week’s Writing Tip Wednesday. Today I want to focus on proper manuscript formatting. Most publishers and agents and magazines will detail how they want you to format your manuscript in their guidelines, which you should find on their websites. I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow these guidelines – they are there for a reason and you need to follow them. You can be rejected for not following the guidelines, especially when it comes to word count, no matter how good your story is.
When you look around at various publishers/agents/magazines you will see that there is a general consensus about how a manuscript should be presented.
Here are some of the standard things you find:
*Courier or Times New Roman are the preferred fonts. I personally prefer Times New Roman.
*Pages should be numbered, and your name and title should be in the top right hand corner. Unless of course the publisher etc has asked that your name doesn’t appear on the manuscript, which you will find happens in competitions.
*It should be saved as .doc,.docx,.rtf It is best to check with whoever you are sending it to to see how they want it saved.
*Use wide margins around the whole of the text at least an inch (2 centimeters.)
*Indent paragraphs by 1/2 inch (one centimeter)
*If you have to send a hardcopy, do not bind it, use an elastic band or something similar to hold it together that can be easily removed.
*Your name and contact details should be in the top left hand corner on a short story, but should be on a cover sheet for a novel.
*The title and your name/pseudonym should be half way down the page and the start of your story a double space under that for short stories, and half way down the page on the cover sheet for a novel.
For an example of proper manuscript formatting for short stories you should check out http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html I submitted three short stories to anthologies lately who asked for standard manuscript formatting and then gave this link, so it is worth a look.
William also has an example of proper formatting for a novel: http://www.shunn.net/format/novel.html
Presentation means a lot, and it is worth taking the effort to do it right.