Here is how I formatted my manuscript, the state in which it now lies in preparation for an agent or publisher's perusal.
Always follow the guidelines of the agent or publisher you are sending your work to, but if they do not have specific guidelines, then use these:
- Twelve point, Times New Roman (or Courier New, if you must)
- One-inch margins on all four sides
- Half-inch paragraph indentations for the first line of each paragraph (that's striking the spacebar 5 times or using the tab key, but make sure it's set correctly if you do use tab)
- Double space - no extra spaces between paragraphs
- Align left (not justified). The right edges will not be uniform or even.
- Number pages beginning with the actual story (don’t count or put page numbers on the title page)
- Indicate scene breaks by inserting a blank line and centering the number sign # in the center of the line
- Include your last name, your title (or keywords from the title), and the page number in the page header of every page except for the title page. Align the header to the right, so the information doesn’t interfere with the text of the manuscript. (Deininger / Flesh / 1)
- Begin chapters on new pages (Insert that page break at the end! Ctrl-Enter!). Center the chapter title: Chapter One, or Chapter 1, or ONE, or whatever, about 1/3 of the way down the page. Skip a couple of spaces and begin the text of the chapter.
- Center three number signs ### one double-spaced blank line down at the end of the manuscript. Or just write The End. You want agents and editors to know when they're done, right?
- Use italics for italicized words.
- Single space rather than two spaces after periods between sentences. If you were taught the old-school way to type with two spaces between sentences and now have a completed manuscript with too many spaces, it is now time to go back and fix ever two-space to a one-space. Yes, that's right. You better get started...
- Aligned left and single spaced, near the top of the page, include contact information:
Albuquerque, NM 87544
- About 1/2 the way down the page, centered, enter the full manuscript title and your name:
THE NEW FLESH
a novel by
Word Count: ~56,000
- If you have an agent, include the agent’s contact name and information beneath your name
- Header information is not included on the title page. The title page is not included in page numbering.
- At the very end of the manuscript, centered, put the following:
©2013 by Keith Deininger
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The most important thing to remember is to always check the recommended formatting guidelines for each and every agent and publisher you submit to. Always.
This stuff is dry and boring, but must be adhered to. Be professional. And may the light of a thousand publishers shine bright and bountiful upon your most cherished of manuscripts!