WHAT IS PROPER MANUSCRIPT FORMAT?
Please submit your manuscript as one or more e-mailed Microsoft Word files to: firstname.lastname@example.org. I do not type manuscripts from hard copies into electronic files or transcribe from audio files.
Manuscript Format for Traditional Book Publishers
As part of the editing process, I’ll put your book into proper manuscript format, which most agents and publishers require.
1. Double-spaced 12-point font, either Courier or Times New Roman. Courier used to be the standard, but many agents and publishers now prefer TNR. I personally like TNR because the em dashes appear longer than in Courier, and the overall text more resembles that of a printed book.
2. Em dashes are typed as two hyphens. In date and number ranges, hyphens are changed to en dashes.
3. Ellipses that are formed by the Autoformat MS Word function will be broken apart as either three or four periods divided by letter spaces (rules determine which to use).
4. Line spaces are indicated by [line space].
5. The entire book is separated into chapters, with each chapter a separate file.
6. One-inch margins all around.
7. Numerous style decisions are made based on the Chicago Manual of Style. I follow the two “bibles” of the book-publishing world: Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, and Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition. Regarding Webster’s, I use the first-choice spelling when several are given for a word. I also change British spellings to American: “toward,” not “towards”; “gray,” not “grey”; "judgment," not "judgement"; and so on.
After your manuscript is edited, you can print out a hard copy to submit to agents or publishers. The manuscript should be double-spaced, to allow agents or in-house editors to scribble in between the lines on the hard copy. If an agent requests your manuscript, however, ask whether he or she prefers a hard copy (on paper), unbound, or e-files. Some literary agencies are going "paperless" nowadays.
Manuscript Format for Self-Published Books
If you are self-publishing and you plan to use a printing company that doesn’t offer book layout services, instead of Courier I’ll put your book in a font of your choice, single-spaced, with actual em dashes and en dashes, and with no instructions to the compositor typed into the text (such as “[line space]”); instead, I’ll use the actual formatting. I will separate your book into chapters and, of course, will still follow the guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style. I'll also standardize the font sizes and styles (bold, italic) of chapter titles, subheads, and other elements, along with other simple formatting. This might be enough for some self-publishing companies, but others will either want you to put your book into a pdf file or their book designer will do it. Note that I don't do book design, don't use Quark, and don't have the software to put your book into pdf format (which is a more advanced version of Adobe Reader than I own). However, my Adobe Reader does allow me to edit pdf files as a final stage before publishing.