Today’s blog is in response to a couple of requests from fellow authors and editors. Today we shine the candle in a new direction: formatting.
Now, there are multiple ways to do many of the things I am going to address, but, for simplicity’s sake, I will focus on one way each.
When setting up your document, check the requirements of the place you intend to send this work. If you have no particular place in mind yet, start by adjusting your font to Times New Roman. When using Microsoft Word (I know that it sucks like a starving vampire, but we’re stuck with it. I am a Linux-lover myself, but you do what you must.) there is a bar across the top. Toward the left-hand corner, but not all the way to the left, is a small box with a font name in it. Click on the tiny arrow in that box, and a whole selection of fonts will appear. Scroll through as necessary, and set it to Times New Roman. Next to the font type box is another, smaller box with a number in it. Click that box, and set that number to 12.
It'd be easier to write your manuscript if you took that stupid mask off.
And if you're lucky, your editor won't execute you.
The margins should usually be set to 1 inch on all sides. To do this, look once more at the bar at the top of the screen. This time, don’t look at all the little gadgets on it. Look at the line of text across the top. Third in from the left, you should see “Page Layout”. Click that. The whole toolbar will change, and you should see a button labeled “Margins”. Click it. “Custom Margins” should drop down when you do. Click that. A pop-up should appear in the center of the screen, and on it you should see all the margins listed out. Simply click the appropriate arrows until they are set to 1 inch. Don’t forget to click the “OK” button at the bottom when you have finished setting the margins.
Click this. Always. Your computer is insecure and needs the reassurance.
At the end of a chapter, do not press “Enter” until you hit the next page. Just … don’t do that. Instead, press Ctrl + Enter. The “Ctrl” button is usually in the lower left-hand corner of the keyboard. Pressing this in conjunction with the “Enter” button will create a page break.
As for the spacing in your work, please make sure that the whole manuscript is evenly spaced. On Microsoft Word, there is a section in the toolbar labeled “Paragraph”. This contains the justification options (in order, left, center, right, and justified), and then a button with lines and an up and down arrow on it. Click this button. It will pull up a pop-up with “Line Spacing Options” on it. There is a list of numbers, and it often appears to default to 1.15. Usually publishing houses or agents will prefer 1.5 or 2. Click on the number of your choice (again, I recommend 2). There are also, at the bottom of the line-spacing pop-up, two options. “Add/Remove Space Before Paragraph” and “Add/Remove Space After Paragraph”. It will have “Add” if you have it set to no paragraph, and “Remove” if you have it set to paragraph. Generally, it is preferable to have it set to no paragraphs. Choose the “Remove” option when possible.
If you type your manuscript on this, you get bonus points.
Do not do fancy things. Do not give your manuscript fancy borders. It will not make an acquisitions editor think your work stands out; it will merely irritate.
That is all for this week, but if there are further questions or requests, I will do another special formatting spot. Keep those grammar candles burning!