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How to Write a Novel: Formatting

This was one of my pitfalls when I started writing and I wish someone I knew walked me through this or I found it compiled all in one site instead of finding it in bits and pieces. I wanted to be able to give pictures of this before I did this topic, but I’ll just do my best to describe it as clearly as possible.

1) Fonts should be either Times New Roman or Courier, 12 point, no bigger or smaller. Definitely no fancy prints that are hard to read or you may find yourself with a rejection to an agent before they even read the first word.

2) The content should be single spaced. For the sake of writing though, I use a double space between paragraphs and a writer can too. When you’re ready to take out the double spaces, go to find and replace and put in the find ^p^p and in the replace box ^p. This will get rid of all the double spacing the double spacing was manual, meaning you pressed enter twice.

3) The margins should be one inch all around. No fancy gimmicks to make the story look longer. That’s why we writers talk in terms of word count, not pages. This is easy in newer versions of Microsoft Word, meaning Word 2007 and 2010 Just click the page layout tab, go over to the page setup box and the first option is margins and click the one that has one inch all around. For other word processors, the process is more or less the same, but because I use word, I can’t show where to find it.

4) Indentations should be half an inch from the margin. You could press the tab button, but I generally find that annoying. Formatting it is much easier. Just click and drag the top little tab of the ruler over to half inch before starting the novel, or it’s you’ve already started, selected the whole document and then move it. Or you can go to paragraph on the home tab, go to indentations and click the drop box. Press first line and set the indentation to half an inch.

If you happen to use tabs and find it’s annoying or something of the like, go to find and replace. Put in the find box ^t and replace with nothing, then go back and format like above.

5) When creating new chapters, save yourself a lot of pain by making use of a page break or a new page. It’s really easy. Just press Ctrl and Enter at the same time and there, a new page.

For the love of all that is good don’t click enter a bunch of times when you get to a new page because one you edit, no doubt it will mess up the chapter spacing.

6) Find and replace is your best friend in a word document. Anything you do multiply and manually can be undone with the input of the right symbol (just google search formatting symbols or find and replace symbols), but be careful using find and replace. In some instances, it’s a good idea to use that without flicking the replace all, because I’ve really messed up some document because I didn’t take the time to look at each instance I was replacing, but for formatting that’s fine.

More or less, all word processors are about the same, but if you happen to have a different processor with a different set of instructions or any tips on formatting, email me a ladydaewrites@rocketmail.com and I’ll certainly update this.

You may also find helpful:
Punctuating Quotations and Dialogue
Five Rules Grade School English Teachers Teach that Creative Writers Should Forget!

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