Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 2, 2017

Formatting Your Manuscript

I don’t think these two little girls created by illustrator Priscilla Burris are ready to learn how to format their manuscripts, but many of you do. Please make sure you follow these guidelines.

How should you format your manuscript?

Here’s the “Author Standard” template:

  • Put a header on each page with your name and title of your work and the number of words in the manuscript. (If you are using Word, go to “View” and chose “Headers.”  This will place your info on all pages. May be in a different place if you are using 2016 Word.)
  • You don’t need a cover page.  Put your name, address, phone number, e-mail, etc. at the top left hand side and then skip down some spaces and list your title.  You don’t need to put “by blah, blah, since your name is already at the top and on each page.
  • Always Double Space your text.
  • 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 – if you see a bigger space between paragraphs – make sure your spacing settings are set to Zero, 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.

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.

If you are writing a novel, you will need to add a synopsis with your manuscript when you submit.  Please keep the synopsis short and not longer than two pages.  Single space synopsis if it is one page.  Double space if it is longer.

Hope this helps!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This kind of critical info is ALways useful, Kathy. Thank you 😀


  2. After taking an ICL course in 2010, I’ve always put my contact information in the header and didn’t put “By: Author’s name” under the title. Then, last summer at a retreat, an agent “fixed” those two things to how she said was standard for submitting. (She put the contact information at the top of the page, but not in the header; and she put By: my name under the title.So, have things changed or is it just different depending on who you are submitting to?


  3. This is very useful, Kathy! As an editor who is reading tons of submissions all the time, I will put in a plea for people NOT to use 12 Pt Times New Roman, as it’s a font that squeezes more words on a page and it makes it harder to read. It was originally designed for the Times of London as a space-saving font. I prefer 12 Pt Verdana or Ariel for my submissions, but 12 Pt Courier is fine. (And 12 Pt type always!) Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emma,

      Thanks for weighing in. You are the first person to point this out. Though I do know there are a few words like worn that can look like wom because the r and the n are too close in Times New Roman. I would never have been brave enough to use a different font, but now I can quote Emma Dryden when I do.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Kathy. A lot of publishers still request Times New Roman for submissions, so authors need to look carefully at submission guidelines. A lot of editors don’t realize how tightly TNR squeezes letters. 🙂


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