Proper Manuscript Format for Fiction Writers | William Shunn

Indicating large divisions in your book manuscript

A reader writes to ask: My memoir is divided into sections rather than having chapter titles. Some sections have as little as one chapter while the longest has seven. In a book I can see each section, which has a...  read

Long quotations within your text

A reader writes to ask: Is there a guideline for when you want to include the text of some other text within your story? I'm thinking of something like Barry Malzberg's Herovit's World where parts of the novel were actually...  read

Meet the Courier family

A reader writes to ask: I have a question about font. In your article, you suggested that only Courier or Times New Roman should be used, and you strongly recommended Courier. My version of Microsoft Word apparently does not support...  read

Sentence spacing

A reader writes to ask: I have always used two spaces after the end of each sentence and someone recently said they believed that was no longer the correct method to use. Can you tell me if I should leave...  read

Formatting nonfiction

A reader writes to ask: Love your clear instructions on manuscript preparation and am wondering if the formatting is the same for memoir? Yes, exactly. You should format a personal essay the same as a short story, and book-length memoir...  read

Setting off a new paragraph

A reader writes to ask: Why not have a triple space between paragraphs? (Because of the double space between the lines, the paragraphs are not distinguished.) I infer from your question that you're confused about how to indicate the end...  read

Confusing file format with manuscript format

A reader writes to ask: When sending stories via email attachment, some markets insist on RTF, so I'll go to my Open Office files, where all my stories are .DOC, formatted in Standard Manuscript Format (SMF), and save the .DOC...  read

Choosing the right printer

A reader writes to ask: I came across your web site while searching for information on the correct way to format a manuscript. I failed to make a note about electronic file printing. Do you have any recommendations regarding the...  read

Formatting email submissions

A reader writes to ask: Thanks for all the useful, easy-to-follow information about formatting on your web site. If I were submitting pages by snail mail, I think I'd be set. But the vast majority of agents I'm planning on...  read

Proper manuscript format for the 21st century

I wrote the original version of my manuscript formatting guide in 1993, modeling it after a much older two-page guide I received from Damon Knight in 1985. Back in those days, even for those who'd made the switch to composing...  read
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