Proper Manuscript Format for Fiction Writers | William Shunn

Formatting a children's book

A reader writes to ask: I'm preparing a manuscript for a children's book. Should I use the same format [as for adult fiction]? Or is there a different format for this type of book? Yes, when submitting a picture book,...  read
Which Courier to choose?

Which Courier to choose?

A reader writes to ask: Quick question: which font do you use when writing a manuscript – Courier New or Courier Final Draft? Good question, though those two fonts are hardly the only Courier variants available to choose from. One...  read

When is a scene break not a scene break?

A reader writes to ask: I am a bit confused about scene changes. I know that they have to be denoted by a single line with a "#", but if I use them at every scene change my plot will...  read

Why you won't go to hell for putting two spaces after a sentence

Back in January, Slate's Farhad Manjoo set the blogosphere a-boil with a vitriolic philippic against the evils of ever placing two spaces at the end of a sentence. A veritable Greek chorus rushed to add its voices to his, including...  read

Formatting text messages

A reader writes to ask: My manuscript contains text messages from one character to another. How would you suggest I format them? When you present an exchange of text messages in fiction, you're essentially presenting a different form of dialog....  read

Testifying with boldface

A reader writes to ask: Is the occasional Bold word in a manuscript okay? Because every time I change point-of-view, I leave an empty line (which from now on will be filled with a #), and make the first word...  read

I never seen so many bleedin' Arials

A reader writes to ask: The font I have been using for 10 years is Arial. I like it alot. Any comments. Should I check with Sheila Williams, the editor at Azimovs. No. No. No. A thousand times no. Use...  read

Converting all italics in your document to underlines

A reader writes to ask: I am using 2010 microsoft office for my novel manuscript. I need to change the titles of movies from italics to underlines. Any quick way? It's a bit tricky, but there is a way to...  read

Cheating the format

A reader writes to ask: I'm getting close to done writing a manuscript, set to your specs for 250 words per page, and it's threatening to break 600 manuscript pages (about 150k, assuming no half-pages). That's going to be a...  read

Regarding line height, close is good enough

A reader writes to demand: Setting everything according to the various suggestions for Word to lay out my pages for writing a book, I find it impossible to get 25 lines on an 8½ by 11 when double spaced. Explain....  read
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