It seems like every time I send off a submission, it never fails that I’ll have to reformat some part of the manuscript to fit the editor or agent’s guidelines. I write in what most would consider the norm, with double spacing, indented paragraphs, in 12 point Times New Roman, with page numbers in the header.
Always take the time to jump through whatever hoops they’re asking for. Yep, it can be a pain, but I’ve heard many an editor say that if an author can’t be bothered to send their submission in the requested format, they won’t read it. It sends up a red flag that you can’t follow simple instructions and probably wouldn’t be that easy to work with when it came to edits and such.
Here are some tips I use a lot when I need to reformat my Word documents. These are some of the most common hoops I see people trying to figure out how to jump through.
One or two spaces after punctuation
Neither of those are an always, so take note of this easy trick. You do NOT want to have to go through your whole manuscript manually adding and taking out spaces. (Yes, I did that once and am still emotionally scarred from the experience. ) 🙂
With the document open, click on ‘replace’ to open the Find and Replace box. If you need to replace two spaces with one, type two spaces in the Find box and hit the space bar once in the Replace box. Hit Replace All and you’ll be good to go. Just do all that in reverse if you need to change one space for two.
My stuff is set to indent a new paragraph by a half inch, but no telling what the next editor will want it to be. No problem, just click Select All, open the Paragraph box, click the Indents and Spacing tab, select ‘First line’ under the Indentation section where it says ‘Special’. To the right of that, work the up and down arrows until you come to the indent you need.
Every damn body asks for something different on this. Some want a ‘*’, others a ‘#’, or in any grouping from one to five ***** or #####. That’s easy to fix with the Find and Replace option like I explained above. These thingies will need to be centered but if you have paragraphs set up to indent the first line, your page breaks and chapter heading won’t be in the true center, which drives me crazy. Seriously, it does. Put your cursor in front of the first symbol or the word ‘Chapter’, whichever needs fixing, open the Paragraph box to the Indents and Spacing tab, select ‘(none)’ under special, and the line should then be centered. You’ll have to do that for each line that needs tweaking.
What formatting hoops do you jump through most often?