Create Your Own Manuscript Template
If you’re like me, when you’re ready to write you just want to sit down and get it done – let the juices flow. The last thing on your mind is making sure your formatting is up-to-snuff for an editor or for self-publishing options. Besides, you don’t need to think about all that until you’re done writing, right?
Technically, no, you don’t need to worry about that stuff until later – but have you tried reformatting 70,000+ words? It can be a royal pain in the butt. If you already have your computer set up with some manuscript templates, your life will be so much easier down the road.
Don’t worry if you’re not computer-literate. These basic steps are relatively easy to follow:
-Choose the “Normal” setting in your styles manager at the top of your MS Word page.
-Click the little box/arrow on the right hand side (just look for the little word “Styles” and follow that area over to the right).
-Go to the bottom of the styles menu where there is a little button with two As and a sun – that is “New Style” click on it.
-In the smaller box that come up, give this new style a name like “Normal MS” (MS stands for manuscript). Choose your font (something simple like Times New Roman or Garamond).
-Click on the “Format” button at the bottom and choose “Paragraph” (a new box will open) – you want to make sure where it mentions “before” and “after” for line spacing that these numbers are set at zero then click “okay.”
-Then, click on the little circle at the bottom that says “New documents based on this template” and your setting will save to that styles bar at the top of your page.
Now, do this over again and change the name and one other style element (set bold on one, set italics on another, set centre and change the font size and any other element you would like for a title or subtitle, you get the idea).
Okay, now your thinking, “Why don’t I just hit that handy little “Bold” button at the top of my page? That’s so much easier.”
Yes, it is easier but many editors and all self-publishing sites will highly recommend that you already have your manuscript formatted like this, rather than the easy way, because it transfers from your file to their system better.
It takes a bit of getting used to but once you familiarize yourself with using the style bar, instead of the quick select buttons, it will become second nature and save you a world of trouble when you go to finalize your formatting after writing.
Just take it slow, make a back up copy of your file and remember, if you think you’ve done it wrong you can always undo what you’ve created and try again.
[These instructions are based on MS Word 7.0 – many of the functions remain the same for more current versions]
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