Your manuscript is complete in terms of content. I hope you've let that sink in, it is an amazing thing to behold. Now we've laid the ground work for marketing, and it's time to get that manuscript polished and ready. In this step we'll look at basic formatting. The basics apply to self publishing and traditional with only a few differences which will be covered. This may take a long time, anything worth doing is worth doing right, So open up your document (the examples given are using Microsoft 2010, my personal favorite), tune out distractions, and let's make this baby look professional.

Kinda like this, yes...we're starting with just the basics today


First off, select the ENTIRE text. Then JUSTIFY IT.

Simply hit CTRL+A to select all, then open your paragraph format, and from the alignment drop down select JUSTIFY.

Now, for the tedious shit. If you're going to send this to an agent you can skip this step here, but you still might want to do it to see an egregious errors. You can combine the next step with this, which I'll get to in a moment. For now you want to look through your manuscript. If you see any lines that are spaced out with tons of negative spaces because one word in it is too long, hyphenate the long one. Try to make sure each line has the same amount of negative space. It should all look like this:


If you are self publishing an eBook, I would say do that step by itself the first time you ever do this. Once you've done it, the next time you can combine it with the next step: formatting chapter headings and breaks. Those of you sending this to an agent can combine these two steps.

First up, for both of you: hit CTRL+A and select your paragraph drop down as before. This time we're going to LINE AND PAGE BREAKS to de-select WIDOW/ORPHAN CONTROL. Simply make sure the box next to WIDOW/ORPHAN CONTROL is NOT checked.


Now there will be no unsightly large gaps of negative space at the bottom of your pages. It's looking good!

Next up, chapter headings are formatted as ALL CAPS for both, say CHAPTER FOURTEEN for example. But where they are placed is different for self publishers and traditional.

Traditionals should begin every chapter on a new page, four lines down, with the paragraph two lines down from it, and they must be CENTERED with no indent. It will look like this (paragraph markings are shown here only to guide you, never make them visible in your manuscript):


If you're going to self publish, your chapters should begin just two lines down from the end of the previous and the next paragraph should be two more lines down. Where it falls on the page DOES NOT MATTER:


Next are paragraph breaks. Remember how in writing you marked them with three asterisks (***)? Well, now, for everyone they must be formatted the same. They must be CENTERED and occur two lines down from the previous paragraph, and two lines up from the next:


If you want to check and make sure your spacing is correct, to show the paragraph icons simple click the icon in your paragraph box at the top:


Next we have to make sure borders are correct. Hit CTRL+A again to select all and open up your paragraph dialog, and click on the INDENTS AND SPACING tab. Make sure it looks EXACTLY like this (selectr SINGLE line spacing for self-publishing, DOUBLE for traditional):


Indents should be 0, Line spacing should be SINGLE with 0 before and after. DO not select anything else, make sure all else is selected, and hit okay. However, if you're sending to an agent, do everything above but keep it DOUBLE SPACED (it's easier for them to read). So for traditional publishing it should look like this:




Before we get to the last step, let's recap the things that should have been done before this lesson, and what we just did:

1. Font is TIMES NEW ROMAN 12pt
2. Breaks are noted with *** as holders
3. Chapters are created where they need to be, in all caps, still Times New Roman 12pt
4. The document is justified
5. Spacing issues caused by justification are fixed
6. Widow/Orphan control is disabled
7. Titles are centered and spaced correctly according 
8. Paragraph breaks are centered and spaced accordingly
9. There are no indents or extra spacing and the manuscript is single lined for self publishers, double for traditional

Now we come to #10: Page Numbers and Headings.

For self publishing DELETE them. No page numbers! No headings! Get them gone by selecting them and deleting them. No converter can work with text boxes, which page numbers are, and the pages in MS Word do not correlate to any eReader or smartphone screen, so get them gone, hit save, and this step is done!

Traditionals, you have some work to do.You can be lazy and leave your page numbers at the top, set left or right, with your name and the book title as a heading. Most agents will accept that, but we want to wow them. If you present a more polished, professional image, they will be more interested in working with you.

So first, view your manuscript as two pages at a time. Got to VIEW and select TWO PAGES:



Now, click on the page number and the HEADER/FOOTER optrions automatically pops up. Select all options:


Different First Page means the very first page, right now CHAPTER ONE will have no header on it. Different Odd & Even pages means the page numbers can have different alignments, just as they do in paperback and hardcover books.

Now click on the page numbers and delete them. Just delete them. We're starting fresh. Now, click on the INSERT tab and then click on the header of Page 2. Select INSERT PAGE NUMBER and then select the option of a number on the RIGHT side (Option #3):


Now go to the Page three, and repeat, but select Option #1:



Now for a header just click in the space. Odd pages should have your name, even the title. Just type it in:



Now, you are all done, hit save! As a note for traditionals, at a later stage you will begin researching agents. Some may have their own formatting preferences. We'll cover that in the Writing 104: 2-A lesson but at least now you know how to do all the formatting tricks.

The next lesson will cover tailoring our summary and synopsis. If you are sending your work to an agent they will need both the summary and synopsis along with your manuscript and query. If you're self-publishing, you'll want to work on your synopsis since that is what you use to create your own back blurb.

Take a break, and great job so far! We're almost there, hang in my friends!