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Tips for Formatting Your Book

Welcome back, HoneyScribblers, hope you all had a great week! Today's post is all about formatting a manuscript the way an editor wants you to and the way a reader expects you to! Formatting isn't the easiest thing, so I'm here to give you some tips that won't lose you readers or make people not take you seriously (yes, sadly, that happens). It can also seem confusing at times (or with a quick google search), but we'll go over the basics and move forward from there! Let me know if you want a part 2 and without further ado, read on and enjoy!

  1. Times New Roman may be boring, but it is the font for standard manuscripts. Another tip: Keep it black and 12-point. After the editing process comes the interior design, where you can add the prettiest and coolest fonts you've ever seen.

  2. Margins should be 1 inch on all sides. A Word document will already have these perimeters on default, but when exporting to another software, be sure that the page size (8.5 by 11 inches) and margins are correct.

  3. Now this one is a common error I've been doing for the longest time. I only learned about this recently, and it made such a difference. The biggest tip I can give you is: don't. hit. tab. I know you're probably thinking, why is it there then? Well, fiction manuscripts are super critical (don't even get me started on non-fiction—block paragraphs instead of indents are something I STILL haven't figured out yet). Instead of hitting tab or space to indent, set indentation to 0.5 inches using Format > Paragraph. Another thing—wonder why in fiction you see the first line after a chapter break or scene break not indented? Well, I honestly don't have a clue who made that rule, but it is one apparently, and in order to use this type of formatting, all you have to do is go to "Indentation". By "Left" you need to type 0.5, and under "Special", you choose "First Line". Now this is how to set it in Word, but Google Docs has very similar options like this (I would know, I use the software).

  4. Another important thing you should know about: Page Breaks. When beginning a new chapter, you can't just hit return until you get a new page (please don't do that, it will SERIOUSLY mess up your formatting). All you have to do to change this is go to "Insert > Break > Page Break" and you got yourself some great page formatting.

  5. Send your manuscript as a .doc or .docx. This may seem odd, but Word has a "Track Changes" feature that is still the editing tool of choice, whether you write your story in Word or not. That being said, your editor will appreciate receiving the manuscript in this file format. Just remember—whatever you do, DO NOT send your editor individual chapters as separate files. Include everything in one.

  6. Last tip of the day: Number your pages. Now this is also important—don't number your title page; begin numbering your pages when your story begins. To add page numbers, simply click "Insert > Page Numbers" and select your preferred options. Then you just choose to place the numbers at the top left of the page (not top right).


Alright, that's all for now, HoneyScribblers! If you enjoyed this post or thought it was helpful, let me know so I can make a part 2 of it! There are so many things that go into consideration when formatting your book, and if you have any questions at all, send me a message on my Instagram, @hxneyscribbles, or here! I look forward to talking to you all in the next post, until then xx

credit goes to The Write Life! Go check them out :)

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