A brief manuscript formatting checklist

If you’d rather not plow through the entirety of “Proper Manuscript Format” to make sure you’ve implemented all its most important points, here’s a handy alphabetized checklist you can review against your document:

  • Contact info: upper left corner of first page
  • Emphasis: Italics, not underlining
  • Font: Times New Roman or Courier New, 12 points, black
  • Indentation: 0.5 inch
  • Justification: Left margin only (leave right ragged)
  • Line spacing: Double
  • Margins: 1 inch all around
  • Page headers: Keyword from title, author surname, page number, upper right corner of every page but first
  • Smart quotes: On, but pay attention in case your word processor gets it wrong
  • Title and byline: Centered one-third to one-half of the way down first page
  • Word count: Upper right corner of first page, rounded to nearest hundred (or nearest 500 for longer manuscripts)

As for fancy formatting elements—drop caps, dingbats, bolding after scene breaks, and the like—unless you're Mark Z. Danielewski writing House of Leaves, leave them all out. Your manuscript is a blueprint for a finished book, not the book itself.  

shortlink: dogb.us/checklist

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