Quick and easy guide to manuscript formatting.You probably already know this, but it comes up a lot so I wanted a central depository to send people to.
Rule 1: If your agent, editor, or competition submission has a specified format to use… USE IT. No exceptions.
Otherwise, you basically can’t go wrong with these for maximum acceptance.
Page Size & Colour
- A4 is standard.
- Do not use colorful paper when submitting.
- If you are submitting a hard-copy, make sure you only print on one side of the paper.
Font: & Size
Standard is black, 12 point, Times New Roman. Ariel and Courier are also widely accepted. Basically a mono-spaced serif font.
- Lines should be double spaced with no additional spacing between paragraphs.
- Single space between sentences after periods. Double space does not mean between words/sentences, that went out with typewriters.
Indent & Margins
- Margins 3cm on all sides (or .5 inches)
- Do not indent the opening paragraph of your chapter, or the paragraph commencing after a scene break.
- Do indent each new paragraphs and each new section of dialogue.Indentation should be set in your software to 1.25cm.
- DO NOT use the Tab key.
American or UK English
Write to your market. If you publish locally, just write what comes naturally, but be aware that it is a largely global market now. While UK (see also Canadian & Australian) readers can handle US English easily enough the opposite isn’t always true. If you do write in UK, Canadian, or Australian English be prepared for a lot of ‘helpful’ US readers pointing out your spelling mistakes.
- Enclose spoken words in quotation marks.
- If you use US English use the double quote “
- If you use UK English you can (but not necessarily required to) use the single quote ‘
- If a character is quoting someone else as they speak, use the alternate version.