Books Writing

Top 10 Points Your Editor Expects You to Know about Formatting a Book

Wondering how to format a book before submitting it to the editor? Read this article on formatting a book that your editor expects you to know beforehand!

Editors anticipate that the writers should have some knowledge of book formatting before submitting the writings to them. The main purpose is to make it easy to read, engaging, or likely to keep people on the page.

Many fiction and non-fiction writers spend hours together writing their manuscripts having limited formatting knowledge. Proper formatting is essential to get your editor and readers to take interest in your work. Below are the 10 tips which you can follow in formatting a book to meet your editor’s requirements.

 1.   Select the Industry Standard Font, Font Size, and Color

Though Arial or Courier New are some editors’ preferences, fonts like Times New Roman with 12 point font size are the industry standard. You should refrain from using fancy fonts like Centeria Script, Risotto Script, etc.

Multicolor fonts may distract readers from the main points. It is better to use black font color throughout the manuscript.

2.   Select a Uniform Margin

For book formatting, margins should be uniform, which means the top, bottom, left, and right margins of your pages must consist of a one-inch gap. For customizing your margins in MS Word, select Layout > Margins> Custom Margins>(set your margins)>(see the preview)>Set as Default >Confirm your selection. That’s it! You are good to go!

3. Indent vs Pressing the Tab Key 

For the first line of a new paragraph, you should indent (i.e. start the sentence with a blank space between it and the margin) a half-inch. For indenting, hitting the tab key may be every editor’s pet peeve. Setting tabs and hitting tab aren’t the same things. To ‘set’ tabs for indentation, select all (Ctrl+A) of the file in MS Word, then select home>’ arrow’ on the right of Paragraph>Indents and Spacing>Indentation>Before Text>(type 0.5)>Special>choose ‘First line’ from the drop-down menu of ‘Special.’

Avoid indentation in the first paragraph of any chapter, after a subhead, and especially when you are following a bulleted or numbered text.

4. Make Sure to Double-space All Lines and Separate Sentences      

Lines should be double-spaced to make the content more readable. Adding extra space between paragraphs is not usually accepted. In the case of writing prose manuscripts, you should be careful about margins, which should be double-spaced at one inch to an inch and a quarter. Poetry can be single-spaced.

5. Sentences Should be Left-aligned

Your sentences should be aligned on the left-hand side of your page (Ctrl+L), but not justified (Ctrl+J). Keep in mind that uniformity will not exist on the right-hand side of your written document.

6. Make Sure to Number Your Pages

Page numbers should be continuous from the first page. Roman numerals are written in table of contents, copyright page, or ISBN info. Never number the first page of the manuscript; the numbering starts from pages where your story begins.

For numbering pages go to Insert>Page Numbers on the menu bar and select your preferred option for page numbering. The location of the page number is your choice, but it will also depend on the format and content of headers and footers.

7. Use Standard Page Size and Page Breaks

By default, the standard page size of an MS Word document is 8.5 by 11 inches, but you can always change it by going to the Layout tab>Size>More Paper Sizes>Page Setup. A dialogue box will appear.

To ensure a certain space between pages, the Page Break option in MS Word is very useful. Place the cursor at the end of a chapter, then click Layout>Breaks>Page. 

8. Know How to Format Your Chapters and Paragraphs

It is a good practice to center the chapter title at the middle of the page or one-third down the page. The first chapter title should be written below the chapter number. Continue the same chapter heading format for all other chapters. Always start new chapters on a blank page. 

This can be done by inserting a page break. You can write the chapter number in words or numerals. A general guideline is to keep the paragraphs concise to make them reader-friendly. In non-fiction writings, use headings, subheadings and graphics as desired.

9. Send Complete Formatted Book as a Word Document to the Editor

It is not customary or good practice to send individual chapters as separate files to your editor. Send the entire manuscript as one single document. Editors usually appreciate manuscripts in MS Word files because of the feature Track Changes, which is an editing tool of choice.

 10. Conclusion of the Formatted Book

You may think of concluding the manuscript by writing “END” centered after the last line. A concluding sentence is a good idea to bring closure to a paragraph. A properly written concluding sentence can help readers to identify the key points of the manuscript. Usually, the concluding paragraph starts with words like ‘In conclusion, ‘Thus,’ ‘For this reason,’ etc.

Concluding Thoughts

Writing a book or manuscript is a process that starts with bits and pieces, which means first writing a sentence, then a paragraph, and after that, an entire chapter. After completing your manuscript, you should then concentrate on formatting it. While writing books on games or comic books, you may add graphical elements to your content. Who knows? Your book might turn into a movie later on!

Last but not the least, some publishers or editors have their formatting preferences. The author should carefully read the guidelines, if provided, from the editors or publishers before submitting their books. You can usually find their preferences listed on their websites

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