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Proper Manuscript Formatting While Using Microsoft Word 2013

Updated on December 20, 2015
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Mr. Matthew Q. Dawson is a native Texan. He spent his childhood and young adulthood residing in Austin, Texas.

As authors, we struggle with knowing the ins and outs of proper manuscript formatting. It's many times authors ruin their credibility as an author just because they do not properly format their manuscript. This hub is intended to teach authors how to properly format a manuscript while using Microsoft 2013.

Remember first impressions are usually last impressions and they do matter; so if you put a book in print that is filled with errors your reputation as an author will be demolished or at the least questioned.

Throughout this series, I will take you step by step to format your manuscript.

By the end of this series your manuscript will be ready for print mode. If followed exactly to these directions your creditability will not be questioned because your printed book will look as if it just came from a reputable publishing house.


Properly Formatting Your Manuscripts Title

If you are formatting your manuscript to submit to a publisher for acceptance your first page should be the title page. On your title page at the left-hand top corner you want to include the eight following things:

1) Your Name

2) Address

3) City, State, Zip Code

4) Phone Number

5) Email Address

6) Your Manuscripts Genre

7) The Manuscripts Word Count

(Please see pic 1)

Halfway down the middle of the title page you want to include your manuscripts title (See Pic 2).

Then ¾ the way down the title page should be A Novel By “The Author’s Name”.

When adding a dedication page or a quote page each one should have their own page.


Setting up the Manuscripts Margins

Now let’s discuss setting up the margins for your manuscript. Most printed books have a better appearance with a 1-inch margin all the way around.

To set your margin in Microsoft word 2013 go to the top tab toolbar (See Pic 1) go to page layout.

Click the page layout icon then click margins on the far left-hand side (See pic 2). Once you click margins a drop down list will drop choose 1” on a left to right and 1” top and bottom (See Pic 3). Your margins are now properly set.

The only time an author wants to use anything other than 1” (Inch) all the way around is when submitting a Christian manuscript to a publisher. It is commonly known that Christian publishers like their manuscripts to be the following:

1” (inch) left to right and

1.5” (inch) top and bottom

To choose these margins, you would follow the same steps from the paragraph above. The only difference in the steps is you would choose the option in pic 4 (Please see pic 4)

Make sure when setting up your margins you are using “The Portrait Mode” and not “The Landscape Mode”. To check to make sure you are using the proper mode go to margins (By Following the steps above then click custom margins (See Pic 5) once in custom margins look to see if Portrait mode is highlighted (If not click on top of the portrait icon and then click ok (See Pic 6)


Headers and Footers (Placing Page Numbers Within The Manuscript)

The goal of this lesson is to teach you how to properly format your manuscript so that the page numbers are placed according to the proper specs of a properly published book.

By the end of this lesson, you will have learned where and how to place your page number as well as your name (The Author’s name) in its appropriate place.

1) When inserting page numbers you want to look to the far left side of the toolbar (It is the third option to the left) (See Pic ).

2) Click on page number option and begin scrolling through the page number options become acquainted with the options.

3) Now go back to your manuscript and click on your header for page 2 (This would be after your first chapter of your manuscript) select page numbers again. Then select the top of page plain number one; you will then see the number 1 appear within your header.

4) Once the number 1 appears to click in front of the number and type your name (The Authors Name) so that it appears before the number. Now type a backslash (/) ad space then type your book title put your book title in italics now hit the tab button forcing the number to go to the far right side of the page.

5) Now scroll to the header of page 1; click on it (The first page of your chapter). Now go up to the headers and footer menu click on the different first page (See pic ) by click this option you will remove the header from page 1.

6) Now click in the footer of page 1. Go back to the page number option on the menu toolbar; now choose insert page on the bottom of the page to choose plain number 2. Which should put a number 1 in the center of the page?

7) Now if another number other than the number one appear for the page click the page number option again. Once you click on the options scroll down and look for format number option (See Pic ) click on this option. Once you click on this option another box will open (See Pic ) on the bottom of this box you will see an option that will say start at. Click the option and type in the box the number 1. Now click O.K. you will see that the number one will now appear (The problem is resolved).

Look at your manuscript and you will now find that your manuscript is properly numbered with the proper format for the header and footer. With the author’s name, book title, and page number where it is properly to be placed.

Understanding Chapter and Book Titles

Chapter titles should be 12 point font and should not be in bold or italics. Each chapter should start at least one quarter or half way down the page.

It is very important to make sure all of your chapter pages start at the same place all the way throughout your book. So for me I have by default have chosen to hit my enter key 8 times on all chapter pages. Henceforth assuring myself that all chapter pages are at the same spot when I submit the manuscript for print.

Learn where the "Page Layout" icon is within Microsoft 2013 toolbar
Learn where the "Page Layout" icon is within Microsoft 2013 toolbar | Source

Learn More About Choosing Proper Fonts

Now lets Set Up Proper Fonts and Paragraph Spacing For Your Manuscript

Now let’s talk about fonts. Choosing the proper Font style is a critical and extremely important choice an author must make when preparing his/her manuscript for getting the manuscript successfully in print ready mode.

It is utterly important that an author keeps the font simple. Do not worry about fancy fonts (Or décor fonts). You want your readers focused on your content not the fanciness of your font style.

Using fonts that are not normally used will cause your manuscripts font to be blurred or cause your font to be uneven and out of page alignment once it is printed.

Your font size should be a 12 point and your font style should Calibri or Times Roman (Please see pic 5). For your title page, your title can be 20 to 24 in font size. However still using either Calibri or Times Roman font.

Indenting your paragraphs is very important however do not indent by using the tab key. Set your indents to automatically set as a default of .5

To make your paragraphs indent to .5 please follow the following steps:

1) First look at the far right side of the toolbar. You will see an icon called replace. Click the replaced icon. Another box will open. Within the box on the bottom, you will see an option that says more. Click the more option at the bottom of that box clicks the special icon then select the tab option.

2) The code for the tab option will then be put in the “Find What” Box.

3) Leave the replace box completely empty. Select replace all (Which is half way down the box.

4) This will delete all the tabs within your documents

Now let’s get rid of any extra double spacing you have in your manuscript:

1) Follow the steps in step one above.

2) In the replace area just hit your space bar twice

3) In your replace with just hit your space bar once.

4) Now click replace all continue to replace all until there are no findings.

5) Your double spaces have been removed to only single spacing throughout your manuscript.

Paragraphs should be double spaced. However when double spacing your manuscript do not double space by hitting the enter key on your keyboard. To check to see if your manuscript is properly doubled space set your courses on the top of your first page for chapter one, then click Shift Control and the end key on your keyboard (See Pic ). Your manuscript will be the highlight from the start of your courses all the way to the end of your manuscript.

Now please follow the steps below to insert double spaces in-between your paragraphs:

1) With the text still highlighted; go to the home menu tab on the toolbar options, find the paragraph options (which is on the center of the home section of your toolbar. (See pic ) click on the arrow that sits at the bottom right side of this section. This will then bring up the indent and spacing menu.

2) Under indentation select special with the special select first line then on the right of that select 0.25.

Follow the arrow to learn where the page break option is within Microsoft 2013 toolbar.
Follow the arrow to learn where the page break option is within Microsoft 2013 toolbar. | Source

Understanding Page Breaks and Section Breaks

The header is the top margin and the footer is the bottom margin. If you double click in one of those spaces of either the header or the footer when you do this the body text will fade out and the header and footer area will become bright.

By doing this, you can look at the top (Towards your toolbar area) you will see that that another menu area appears (This is called your header and footer toolbar). This is menu you will need to insert page numbers.

Adding page numbers can be tricky. There should be no page numbers on your title, dedication, or quote pages. The first-page number should start at the bottom of the page of chapter one.

About halfway across the header and footer menu toolbar you will see a link to previous icon link to previous always you to keep page numbers continuous throughout your manuscript despite section breaks (See Pic ) often this option is active (if it is active then the link to previous will be shaded or highlighted) to make the link to previous page icon deactivate (Allowing you to implement page numbers appropriately for formatting purposes) follow the following steps:

1) First click on the header of the “Title Page” once you click on the header page look at the link to the previous icon on the toolbar making sure it is turned off (Not highlighted).

2) Now click on the footer of the title page. Follow the same steps as you did for your header.

3) Follow this step for all of your pages until you come to what will be page two of your manuscript (This is the second page of your first chapter).

4) If you come to a header or a footer that the link to previous is highlighted uncheck the link to the previous icon. Now your manuscript has been set up properly to start adding page numbers.

In closing, I want to add by following these few steps you will eliminate having to resubmit your manuscript for reprint. Or even worse taking a chance on your book being published and getting into the hands of your readers who judge your high-quality content for mistakes that could have been prevented.

In the next few months come back to Sundaymoments where you will find that I am publishing more on proper formatting for your electronic versions of your manuscripts, I plan on also publishing an article on how to use Adobe InDesign to embed your fonts and also use the Adobe InDesign software to fully format your manuscript.


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    5 years ago

    "Its many times authors ruin there credibility as an author just because they do not properly format there manuscript."

    "Remember first impressions are usually last impressions and they do matter; so if you put a book in print that is filled with errors your reputation as an author will be demolished or at the least questioned."


  • profile image

    Adriene Jones 

    5 years ago

    Been instructed of how to use a proper manuscript has really gave me an input of how I should prepare my margins. I will study the guideline of each section because I never received anything so helpful to me since the 90's.

  • Sundaymoments profile imageAUTHOR

    Matthew Dawson 

    5 years ago from United States

    cygnetbrown and MsDora

    I am glad you enjoyed this hub.

    I challenge you to be on the look out for a more comprehensive video (that I am currently in the process of producing) on manuscript editing.

    I will also (In the next week) be releasing another hub on formatting, editing, as well as embedding your fonts with Adobe In Design.

    I invite you to come back in the few weeks as I am preparing a large amount of hubs on various subject matter that Self Published authors need to know to be successful in this highly competitive industry.

    Matthew Dawson



  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    5 years ago from The Caribbean

    This is a perfect comprehensive guide to manuscript formatting. Your step by step instructions and pictures are just what we need. thank you and Voted Up.

  • cygnetbrown profile image

    Cygnet Brown 

    5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

    Thanks for creating this step by step hub for those of us who are not so tech savvy at formatting manuscripts. I am book marking this page for future reference!


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