Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Formatting

Got that manuscript hot off the printer and ready to go? Can’t wait to start showing it to agents and editors? But…how the heck did you format the thing?

You may have a great story, but if it’s formatted wrong, it can be as big a turn off to agents as a manuscript laced with misspellings. I’m more guilty than most regarding formatting, but thankfully some fellow bloggers have emailed me with some great tips while they were critiquing my opening chapters. Some basics include: double-spacing, including a title page, page numbers, and a header that lists your last name followed by a slash and the first keyword of your title.

So what’s on your formatting checklist when prepping a manuscript for someone else’s eyes? How many spaces do you leave between chapter headings? What in your experience has proved worthwhile when submitting to agents and editors? 


  1. Most publishers and agents have a prefered formatting style. They usually have these guidelines available on their websites. If they mention it in their guidelines - follow it. If they don't they are probably flexible and you can do whatever.

    Some sites just say industry standard. Their are a lot of good resources on the web for that. Here is one of may favs:

  2. With how well she knows the industry and is respected in it, I follow Janet Reid's template. It's matched a great deal of what I've seen elsewhere.

    The best bet is go with what the agent/editor lists as their preference (if they do).

  3. Yep, I'm pretty clueless beyond double spacing and one space after a full stop instead of two. I'll look it all up when I, you know, actually finish something :-)

  4. Six double spaces in between the chapter heading, "chapter 1" and the body of your text. Double spaced throughout. Don't forget to number your pages. Agents have their own sumbission guidelines but they pretty much follow the same rules. And TNR is so far considered to be the favorite font. :)

  5. Hi formatting is bad, but I am learning along the way and getting better. I got most of my formatting tips from this site. Here is the link.

  6. Agent Vickie Motter actually did a great blogpost on how to format so that it is the easiest for agents reading on e-readers. You should check it out.

  7. Wow. I am book-marking this. It will be very helpful in the future.

  8. I'll have to remember this post if I ever get to the point where I have to format anything. I usually single-space when I'm typing a draft; I guess that's one thing I'd have to change!

  9. i missed the pay it forward hop, so stopping by fashionably late! nice to meet u :)

    and 12 pt Roman, double space, page number, title, name in header, each chapter 5 enters down

  10. I'm still Paying It Forwrard--I really appreciate this post!
    Formatting can be a *big sigh*

  11. I agree that most agents and publishers let you know the format they are expecting. I changed my font for recent queries, since Times New Roman seems to be a favorite.

  12. There's lots of resources out there (as already evidenced in the comments). But I will say always check the agents/publishers guidelines because sometimes they want a specific format.

  13. Krista – Wow, thanks for the super informative tidbits:) Most appreciated:)

    Steph – Cool templates, thanks a ton!

    Alex – Indeed;)

    Sarah – I feel ya…mostly in the same boat myself.

    Laila – I know you’re supposed to put that much space between chapters, but what if you’ve got really short chapters, i.e. one every few pages…that wouldn’t be distracting for the reader? Forgive my ignorance:)

    Rachna – Thanks for the tip!

    Christa – Will do, sounds like a resource I must check out.

    McKenzie – I hope so;)

    Shannon – Thanks, nice to meet you!

    Eagle – I do the same thing when drafting (I actually prefer single spacing) and then adjust it later when submitting.

    Munk – Yup;)

    Jeremy – Thanks for visiting and already providing some great insight:)

    Kristen – Sigh indeed, hopefully it gets better:)

    Elizabeth – I prefer Times New Roman as do many, however it’s interesting that most online docs are written in other fonts.

    Lynda – True that…it’s always best to check each publisher’s guidelines for specific differences.