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Format a Manuscript for Publishing

Whether you are self-publishing or querying agents and publishing houses, you need to apply industry standard formatting to manuscript prior to sending it out.

It is best to format your manuscript prior to sending to beta readers, agents, publishing houses, or e-book conversion and distribution service providers.

Industry Standards

General Setup

  • Use Times New Roman, 12pt, font. Note: Arial and Courier can be used as substitutes, and chapter headers and titles may use a larger font, such as 14pt

  • Set your page margins to 1 inch on each side. Note: Text should be aligned with the left margin, and show as jagged on the right

  • Paragraphs should be double spaced. Note: There should be no extra spacing needed between paragraphs

  • Paragraphs should have a .25 inch indent. Note: The first paragraph of a new chapter or scene break should be left aligned

  • Header information should be in the top right corner and include last name, title, and pagination

Cover page

Centered 1/4 way down the page:


  • "by" on the next line by itself

  • Your name/pen name

  • Word count

Right aligned 3/4 way down the page:

  • Author's Name

  • Address

  • Phone number

  • Email

  • Website, if you have one. If you don't have one, you should probably look into that

Paragraph Text

  • New chapters should begin about 1/3 way down the page

  • Begin a new chapter by inserting a page break. Note: do not just hit Enter until you have correct placement – it makes e-book conversion really tough

  • Leave spaces between a centered

Chapter Header

And your first paragraph. And remember to keep the first line of this first paragraph left aligned, not indented.

  • Use single spacing after periods. Period.

  • Use an em dash to elaborate, add an aside, or if you wish to convey someone who is speaking and gets interup–

  • Use ellipses to indicate a lost or trailing thought, or. . .

  • Indicate scene breaks by a space, then centered hash mark(s), then another space before adding your next paragraph. Note: Some authors like to get fancy with their scene break markers

# or ** or §§§ are all fine

  • Indicate the end of your book by either centering a hash mark or writing

The End


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