Manuscript: Do’s and Don’ts

Manuscript’s Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some quick pros and cons to help you with your manuscript. It can feel overwhelming but these simple guidelines will help.

Some Manuscript DO’s for you to follow:

1. Use an easy-to-read font that everyone has, like Times New Roman, in 12 pt, black.

2. Double-space the text (line spacing) and remove extra space before and after paragraphs.

3. Use left justification.

4. Use tab stops (rather than tabs). If you use actual tabs, we will have to remove the tabs themselves before formatting your book and replacing the tabs with tab stops.

5. Use Center Alignment to move chapter headings to the center (do not use tabs or spaces).

6. Any word you want to be italicized should be italicized even if it’s a formatting choice (for example, if you’re going to italicize any dreams or thoughts).

And of course, the dreaded Manuscript Don’ts:

1. Don’t get fancy with fonts. Stick to that one readable font face and size in the manuscript phase.

2. Don’t use multiple hard returns to start a new page for each chapter. Instead, insert a page break.

3. Don’t use multiple hard returns to make text after chapter titles appear lower on the page. Use the “space after” option in your layout program.

4. Don’t use Word paragraph styles in your manuscript. Unless you’re using Word as the final program to format your books, these styles introduce all sorts of junk when they are imported into different layout programs.

5. If you want your chapter titles to be all caps, don’t manually write them out as all caps. Just use a “paragraph style” in Microsoft Word, either with the all caps option or with a font that only has all caps characters. In fonts like this, the actual capital letters are slightly more significant than the other letters, and you mess up that effect by capitalizing your titles manually.

6. Don’t use tabs to line up any columns.


Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about how you should format your manuscript. Or check out a more detailed description and how-to HERE.

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