Thursday, January 20, 2011

Manuscript Formatting---Aacckkk!

(Picture copied from an email-unknown creator)


A writer friend and I were having a discussion/disagreement on proper format for a manuscript. She and I have different ways of formatting based on what we were told at conferences and at critique group meetings. So we decided to do a search. It was mind boggling how many bloggers and how-to sites differ in the way it should be done.

Contact information on the cover sheet only, contact information also on the first page, put the chapter title close to the heading area and start the text way down on the page, put the chapter title way down on the page and double space before starting the text.

Page numbers on the top left, page numbers on the top right, page numbers only at the bottom, put the author's name, title, and page number together, put the author's name and title together on the left, separate the page number on the right.

I could go on but since I think all of you have experienced this on your own, I won't. The two of us decided that we would stick to our own way of formatting but first we would check with the editor, agent, or publisher website for particular preferences before submitting.

The best piece of advice that one website gave, and I'm sorry I cannot give credit because I didn't make a note of it, was that the most important thing in formatting a manuscript is making it easy to read by the person receiving the submission.

I think that says it all.

20 comments:

  1. There are so many rules and what one likes another doesn't. Hopefully, these MS will get into the right hands! :O)

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  2. Easy to read is great advice. And if the particular publisher has guidelines, follow those so you're giving them what they want.

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  3. I always follow the format set out by SCBWI at http://www.scbwi.org/Resources/Documents/04_FromKeyboardtoPrinted09.pdf.
    Hope it helps!

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  4. I don't stress about format anymore. I do follow certain guidelines, but you're right--as long as someone can easily read your story, it's fine. Good writing trumps all.

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  5. I totally agree with that advice!

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  6. Kathryn, thanks for the link. I'm going to check it out right away.

    Diane, Andrea, Jess, Ann, and Kimberly, thanks for visiting!

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  7. Easy to read...I'll go with that!

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  8. As long as it's not totally funky, and it's easy to read, it's okay. i've heard info that differs from how I do it, but oh, well. Not worth arguing about, really.

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  9. Liza, that's what we decided!

    Laura, you're right about not worth arguing about. We both thought we were right doing it different ways and come to find out, we were!

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  10. I always tell myself that I can't go wrong if I follow the agent's/publisher's instructions. :D

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  11. J.L., it would be nice if all of the agents and publishers would post specific preferences so we could send them exactly what they wanted :)

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  12. I agree - there's a lot of conflicting information out there! I figure that means there's more than one right way (unless the agent/publisher provides their own guidelines, of course).

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  13. I follow Janet Reid (query shark) because I don't want her to be mad at me. Great tips.

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  14. By the way, I'm having a 400 Follower Fiesta if you'd like to enter:
    http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com

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  15. The most common way my publishers have had me list name, title, page number is on the top, far right: Oakleigh(The Bridge)-2.

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  16. I'd like to pass the Stylish Blogger Award to you. You may pick it up at: http://chergreen.blogspot.com/2011/01/stylish-blogger-award.html
    Keep up the great blogging!

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  17. Thanks, Cher, on my way over to pick it up!

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