October 17, 2016

Formatting Your Manuscript: Page Numbers and Margins

Last week, I showed you how to double space your manuscript and set up automatic paragraph indents. Today, we'll cover some of the page formatting elements you will need to know, such as:

  • Margins
  • Headers & Footers
  • Page Numbers


Most agents, editors, and publishers request that you use 1 inch top, bottom, left, and right margins. This is simple to do, and these settings are usually the default settings for Word.

  1. Select the Layout tab on the ribbon
  2. Click the dropdown arrow for Margins (appears on the far left of the ribbon)
  3. Choose the Normal setting

Headers and Footers

Page numbers help reviewers keep track of your document. Make sure you check their guidelines for page number placement.  Some people prefer them in the top right corner of the page, others prefer the bottom right corner.  Make sure you do what they ask for.  Don't give them an excuse to reject your submission.

Accessing the Header

  1. Place your mouse in the top margin area of your document page
  2. Double-click your mouse to open the Header section of the page
  3. Select the Header & Footer Tools tab that appears in the ribbon (this tab is only visible when the cursor is in the header or footer)
Note:  Double-clicking in the bottom margin opens the footer.  You can switch between the header and footer by selecting the Go to Header or Go to Footer buttons on the Header & Footer Tools tab.

Page Numbers

Once your cursor is in the header or footer, you can type any information that you want into these sections.  Word automatically sets three tabs in these sections:  a left aligned tab on the left margin, a centered tab in the center of the section, and a right aligned tab on the right margin.  Press tab to navigate between these areas.

The Header dropdown in the Header & Footer Tools tab provides several automated options.  You can use one of them or create your own header or footer.  For instance, besides the page number, you might want to type your manuscript title in this section.

Setting Page Numbers

  1. Place your cursor in the header or footer
  2. Access the Header & Footer Toolbox tab on the ribbon
  3. Select the Page Number dropdown in the Header & Footer group
  4. Choose the desired position and style of the page numbers

Word offers a variety of page numbering features, but this information should help you set up the basics.  If you have further questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments on this post.

October 11, 2016

How To Format A Manuscript Submission

Last night, during our writing group meeting, a few of our newer members submitted work without proper manuscript formatting. I know you can search the internet and find proper submission formatting guidelines, but I thought it might be worthwhile to go over the HOW of formatting instead of the WHAT.

Why? When one of our members said something about incorrect line spacing, the writer said he had used double spacing between the paragraphs. From the appearance of both writers' work, I believe they used the default line spacing of 1.08 and hit ENTER twice after each paragraph. Unfortunately, that is not double spacing a document.

The Basic Guidelines

When submitting to an agent, publisher, or writing contest, you should always read their formatting guidelines. Most require the following:
  • Font: Times New Roman or Courier 
  • Font Size: 12 point 
  • Margins: 1 inch top, bottom, left, and right 
  • Spacing: Double 
  • Alignment: Left with First Line Indent 


Since the issue last night involved paragraph formatting, I'll focus on line spacing and alignment and add in font formatting for good measure.
: If you are formatting an existing document, use the keyboard short-cut, CTRL+A, to select the entire document before performing the steps below.

To double-space your document ( Instruction step numbers correspond to the numbered arrows in the image below.)
  1.  Select the Home tab on the ribbon
  2. Click the launch button in the Paragraph group (small box with arrow in bottom right corner of Paragraph group)
  3. Locate the Spacing section of the dialogue box
    1. Click on the Line Spacing dropdown arrow and select Double
    2. Make sure that Before and After Spacing are set to 0 
  4. Select OK 

To set a First Line Indent for your paragraph (Step numbers correspond to the numbered arrows in the image above.)
  1. Select the Home tab on the ribbon
  2. Click the launch button in the Paragraph group
  3. Locate the Indentation section of the dialogue box
    1. Select the Special drop down arrow
    2. Choose First line from the list
  4. Select OK
To set Font and Font Size
  1. Locate the Font group on the Home tab of the ribbon (this is just to the right of the red arrow marked 1 in the image above)
  2. Select the dropdown in the Font list (currently Calibri (Body) in the image above)
  3. Scroll down and select Times New Roman
  4. Select the dropdown in the Font Size list (currently shows 11)
  5. Select 12

These three tips should get you on the right track for formatting.  If done properly, your document should look like this:

(Text from a previous post)

Do you have a formatting or WORD functionality question? I've been teaching Microsoft Office applications for over 20 years and will be glad to help with your questions. Please leave them in the comments of this blog so others can see your question and my response.