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Manuscript Setup
by
Rebecca Sinclair

NOTE: I didn't have time to play around with coding . . . that said, while this article appears singled spaced, remember:
ALL MANUSCRIPT PAGES SHOULD BE DOUBLE SPACED!


(formatting notes appear in small red text, like this -- they should not be included in your manuscript!)


Page One
(the very beginning)



1 inch top margin


Your Real Name Goes Here
Street
City, State, Zip
Phone Number

Type of Book
Setting
App. Word Count

1 1/2
inch
marg.





[ ... space down about 10 lines ... ]



Title of Book
by
Your Pseudonym (if you use one) Goes Here

[ ... space down 3 lines ... ]

      Here is where you start Page #1, Chapter #1. You don't need to put a page number on this one; it's obviously the first page of your book and won't be confused with other pages.

      This first page is the only page without the header [see Page 2, Page 3, and Page 4] which will appear at the top of every subsequent page of your manuscript.

      Regarding the information you include for Page 1: In my case, where it says "Type of Book" in the upper right corner of this first page, I put Historical Romance. I also add a line beneath it stating the book's setting and/or time period; it's optional -- I like to include it because I want my editor to have all essential information about the manuscript as soon as possible.


1 1/2
inch
marg.

1 inch bottom margin


Page Two
(beginning a new chapter)



1 inch top margin


BOOK TITLE (Ch.#)
PSEUDONYM (Real Name) -- Page #.
[leave 2 spaces to separate header from manuscript text]

1 1/2
inch
marg.





[ ... space down to the middle of the page ... ]



Chapter Two

[ ... space down 3 lines ... ]

      This is the first page of Chapter Two. All subsequent chapters will start exactly the same way; halfway down the page on a new sheet of paper.

      Take a good look at the header up top since it will appear on every page of your manuscript except the very first. If the title of your book is long, abbreviate it in the upper left corner of your regular page header. Putting in the Chapter # -- [(Ch.#) above] -- is something I started doing for myself, however, I've had several editors say they also found it helpful. It's optional.

      The page number traditionally goes in the upper right corner. If you use a pseudonym, you can put it there (I use CAPS) then put your real name in parentheses beside it. Why? Well, imagine your editor lugging around five unbound manuscripts, bumping into someone, and dropping them. Without the appropriate header information on every page, putting those five manuscripts back together would be a nightmare.


1 1/2
inch
marg.

1 inch bottom margin


Page Three
(all the other pages)



1 inch top margin


BOOK TITLE (Ch.#)
PSEUDONYM (Real Name) -- Page #.
[leave 2 spaces to separate header from manuscript text]

1 1/2
inch
marg.
      This is what all pages except for chapter beginnings will look like (note the same header does appear at the top). This time I haven't dropped down more than a couple of lines from the header, just far enough so the header is nicely separated from the manuscript's text.

      All pages of the manuscript also have good-sized left and right margins. There's a reason for this. Margins are the perfect place for editors to jot down notes and corrections. Right and left margins should not be less than one inch wide.

      I still use Courier 10 pitch font, which is pretty much standard. You don't need fancy fonts, and you definitely don't need any colored fonts. Your font should always be a nice, dark black. As for size -- be careful. Fonts that are too large or too small will throw off your word count (250 words for one full page of text is the standard, not your word processor's word counter). Make sure the text is crisp and easy to read -- change your printer ribbon or cartridge if necessary. Editors and agents do a lot of reading, eye-strain is a very real job hazard. If you make them squint over type that's too small, or print that's faded and barely legible, you risk predisposing them to not liking you or your manuscript. Why start off on the wrong foot if it can be avoided?

      For italics, the traditional way to emphasize words in your manuscript is by underlining the word or phrase to be italicized, like this. I have seen manuscripts recently that simply put italics in italics, like this, however it makes it more difficult for editors and typesetters to distinguish (you don't want them to miss any). Underlining words to be italicized is the standard format.

      When setting up a transition (extra spaces designating a new scene within the same chapter), drop down two double lines. Like this:

[2 double lines]

      The next scene in your chapter will start here.

      Some authors prefer to designate a change in scene even more strongly by putting a # centered in the middle of the extra lines above. This is especially handy when your next scene will start on your next manuscript page.

#
1 1/2
inch
marg.

1 inch bottom margin


Page Four
(the end)



1 inch top margin


BOOK TITLE (Ch.#)
PSEUDONYM (Real Name) -- Page #.
[leave 2 spaces to separate header from manuscript text]

1 1/2
inch
marg.
      As you can see, having designated on the previous page that you've ended a scene within the current chapter and plan to start a new scene, your editor expects the next scene to start here, on the top of your next manuscript page. If you haven't designated the change of scene at the bottom of the last page (or at the top of this one if there was no room on the preceding page), you'll confuse your editor by such the sudden switch in focus -- something you do not want to do!

      Here are a few last-minute tips:

      Justification should always be to the left, never full. Even if a word is long and looks awkward to you starting on the next line, let it; proper hyphenation (for words not normally hyphenated, of course) is the typesetter's job.

      Tab in 5 spaces to start each paragraph.

      Always put two spaces after the punctuation at the end of all sentences. [Because of html coding, two spaces between sentences does not appear in this article.]

      Color of paper should be white. 20 pound paper is fine. I use 20 pound copier paper for my laster printer, and it gives very little "show through". (Show through: Take a couple sheets of paper with printing on them, lay them down one on top of the other, then notice how much of the second page's printing shows through the top page.) You want as little show through as possible to keep your editor's eye-strain to a minimum. I probably don't have to add this, but . . . Please, your manuscript should be printed on one side of the paper only!

      Time to end this article, and to end your manuscript. The last bit of formatting needed is to alert the editor that the manuscript has indeed ended. This is done simply by dropping down three spaces (minimum) and typing THE END in caps. Alternately, you can type simply END, either way is acceptable.

[drop down three lines, then center]


THE END
[In Caps]



1 1/2
inch
marg.



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