I have seen a whole lot of manuscripts in my day, and no two manuscripts have ever been formatted the same way. This means I have seen everything from 10 point font single spaced with half inch margins to 24 point double-spaced.
So how should you format your manuscript? Here’s the “Author Standard” template for submitting to literary agents and book publishers:
- Double Spaced
- 1″ margins
- 1/2 inch indent for a new paragraph
- Pages numbered (and make sure page numbers don’t start over every chapter)
- Page break after the end of a chapter
- No fiddling at all with anything else — no messing with the spacing between paragraphs, no fiddling with the width of the type, no full justification, no hyphenation. Basically just open up Word, hit double spacing, make sure the pages are numbered, and start typing.
- And most importantly — don’t try and make it look like the layout of a book.
If you want to get more granular, for chapter titles I hit the return button twice, center the chapter title, hit return twice again, and then start with the first paragraph. This provides a bit of a visual break without needlessly padding the page count with a ton of space at the top. One space after periods.
What font? Well, I know there is an ongoing battle between the Times New Roman camp and the Courier camp. (I personally prefer Times New Roman).
But do not choose anything other than one of these two fonts. Seriously. No matter how much Gill Sans Ultra Bold Condensed is calling your name, and believe me I know how tempting you can be, Gill Sans Ultra Bold Condensed, you wily devil you…… just resist.
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Mailänder Dom, Schnitt by Walther Hermann Ryff