How to Prepare Your Manuscript for an Editor

How much thought have you put in to the format of your manuscript? In my experience, manuscript formatting is often overlooked despite being an important part of the process.

For every stage of editing (other than proofreading), standard manuscript format should be applied. Why? Because standard manuscript format is easy to read. It’s that simple.

If an editor is presented with a clean, well formatted manuscript, it allows them to focus on their main task: reading every word, thinking about every piece of punctuation, and evaluating if it all works together properly.

A search of “standard manuscript format” will tell you pretty quickly what it entails, but not all of it is important for an editor’s purposes. Here are the parts you should address at this stage of the process:

  1. Use 12-point Times New Roman (my personal preference) or Courier font
  2. Align text to the left
  3. Double space your lines (no additional space between paragraphs is needed)
  4. Use three asterisks (or something of the sort) to separate scenes
  5. Use only a single space after a full stop
  6. Indent paragraphs and make those indents the following way: Open the paragraph tab. In the indentation section, select “First Line” from the drop-down box. Never use the tab key or space bar to create your paragraph indents

Adhering to the first four bullet points will ensure an editor can easily read and spot typographical errors in your document. Following the last two will save time (and therefore money) because fixing every indent and double space between sentences is time consuming.

I’m sure by now you’ve noticed my instructions are geared toward a manuscript written in Word. This is not a coincidence. Regardless of what program you have used to write your manuscript, send it as a Word file. I edit in Word, as do most editors.

There’s one final thing you should consider doing before you send along your manuscript: Self-edit.

I look forward to receiving your appropriately formatted manuscripts if you decide I am the editor for you.

If you have any questions about formatting, leave them in the comments.

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