Formatting Your Manuscript

I was asked this question over on my blog, and to be honest, I’m clueless.

I did a blog on formatting and mentioned putting the author’s name, copyright symbol, and the year on the right at the top. That’s what I’ve always been taught to do, then someone said they’d been taught to never use the copyright symbol and wanted to know if the rule has changed. Help?

I read your post. THE most important formatting rule is your manuscript must be easy to read and to mark up–12 pt Times, double-spaced, 1″ margins, white paper, single-sided, page headers with name & page numbers. Everything else is a matter of preference.

The second most important formatting rule is to follow the preferences of your publisher/agent. These are usually listed on their website.

The copyright mark and All Rights Reserved are unnecessary. You have copyright protection from the moment you put your first word in tangible form. It is understood that all rights are reserved until you sell them. I’m a professional. I know this. You don’t need to remind me. However, if it makes you feel more comfortable you are welcome to include this. I won’t make fun of you, not even in my mind.

Everything else in your post is fine. I have a personal peeve with using style sheets in Word instead of the hard indent. I prefer the hard indent because Word can go all skeewampus when we convert it to our typesetting program and we sometimes end up with some paragraphs converting to a hard indent and some converting to a first line indent and then we have to go through and fix it manually. (If you’re using WordPerfect, don’t.)

6 thoughts on “Formatting Your Manuscript”

  1. Thanks for this clarification, LDSP — I’m going to link to this in my post, okay?

    You know, in thinking about it, I learned how to format in a class on freelance writing. I wonder if putting the copyright is more important in a case like that. Hmmmm.

    At any rate, I appreciate it.

  2. I realize MS Word has become the industry standard, and you publishers probably prefer to have everything in that format, but I still maintain that WordPerfect is the vastly superior word processing program. It’s too bad Microsoft, with their vastly superior advertizing budget, has been allowed to dominate.

    Just commenting and ranting. Not trying to change things.

  3. Trying to convert WordPerfect from a PC (which most people use) to a usable file that will go into a layout program on the Mac (what most professional typesetters use) is…well, let me just say I’m almost bald from the frustrated hair pulling.

  4. Make your author give you their Word Perfect file saved as a RTF file. Every layout program on the planet will import RTF files just fine. (Or you can open them in Word or OpenOffice if you want to do any tweaking before importing it.) It shouldn’t make any difference what program an author uses as long as they save it as RTF to give to their publisher/typesetter.

    Marny Parkin
    ParkinCat Typography

  5. I think most authors prefer to use WP — I know I do and was forced into Word because no one could read my files. I still do everything I don’t have to e-mail as WP. Especially if it’s going to have columns. I hate Word columns.

  6. I hate just about everything in MSWord. You have to run a stupid set-up routine everytime you want to change something. In WordPerfect, you just do it. So much simpler.

    But saving something as a RTF file, is easy to do, if that will work.

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