The main text of your manuscript should be ‘left-aligned’. Do not ‘justify’ the text as this will make it uniform and flush with the margins on either side. Jagged edges on the right are preferred.
All paragraphs – except for the opening paragraphs of each chapter and scene – should be indented 0.5 inches. If you are using Microsoft Word, then this setting can be changed by clicking on the ‘Page Layout’/’Layout’ tab or in some instances, by clicking on the ‘Home’ tab and then ‘Paragraph’. Don’t use the tab key or the spacebar to indent because they can add hidden characters which can mess up your work if an editor or publisher decides to reformat the document later. Also, you don’t need to use a blank line to separate paragraphs; the indentation tells the reader that a new paragraph has begun.
For scene breaks, it’s best to use a ‘hash’ symbol (#), placed in the centre of a new double-spaced line. Some people choose to insert a blank line. However, blank lines can often be missed when the document is reformatted for publication.
For each new line of dialogue, indent the text 0.5 inches, this helps to show the reader that someone new has started speaking.
Emphasised words should be written in italics. It used to be the case that these words were underlined, but that is no longer necessary unless of course, an agent or publisher specifically requests it in their format guidelines.
As always, thanks for reading! Look out for the third and final part of this series, and have a smasher of a day!
Until next time,
© 2018 GLT
Categories: Formatting a Manuscript