1. PenandPencil
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    PenandPencil Member

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    Manuscript Question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by PenandPencil, Aug 13, 2011.

    Hi,

    I read somewhere that, in the case of sending your written piece to the publishers or literary agent or whatever, there's a particular way the manuscript has to be written. Font Courier, size 12, and double-spaced. Paragraphs should skip a line. Is this true?

    If so, when writing your piece, should you just follow these rules instead of, at the end, going back through the entire thing? That would be mental .. considering the double-spaced thing.

    So are those requirements necessary? I type with the default, Times New Roam & 12, but the double space thing will be hard to pick up. Please tell me it's not true. :redface:

    Thanks,

    P&P.
     
  2. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    The double spaced in Microsoft word and most word processors out there is an easy formatting adjustment to make. In most cases, you can simply highlight your text and go to paragraph formatting and set it to double space between lines. If you write with it single spaced, that will change the manuscript to double spaced.

    Typically, I'll write my manuscripts with a font that I feel matches the story and tone. This is only to help me write it. Once finished, I'll make the necessary adjustments for whomever I send it to. I believe the standard formatting is 1 inch margins, double spaced, 12 pt TNR font, though this does vary from place to place (some do not like TNR). Just make sure to check the guidelines of the places you submit your material. Really all the guidelines are for is to make sure authors don't send in manuscripts with 9 pt Brush Script and expect them to be read. Still best to follow them as close as possible.
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never heard that new paragraphs should skip a line, could it be a specific requirement from a specific publisher/agent or is it standard?
    For the double spacing, if you use Word you just mark the text, and then press ctrl+2.
     
  4. PenandPencil
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    PenandPencil Member

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    Raki - Oh I see, thank you. So the required font isn't Courier? Phew... I hate that font. Very boring :|

    Tesoro - I just tried the Ctrl+2 thing - thanks! I don't know about if the double spacing is for a specific publisher/agent, but what I read didn't mention that. I would link the website but it was a long time ago so I forget it. Sorry.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Paragraphs should NOT skip a line in manuscript. The first line of each paragraph should be indented half an inch or one centimeter, depending on whether your are using English or metric units.

    Double spacing is the standard for manuscripts, and it is easy to set up in your word processing program. The font need not be Courier, but it should be a 12 point monospaced serif font. Monospaced neans all characters occupy the same width, making it easier for the editor to see typos or unusual spelling. Times New Roman is a proportional font, meaning that narrow characters are packed closer together. Not as easy on the editor's eyes.

    If you are sending hard copy manuscripts, they should be printed on one side only. The editor will use the back of the page for notes, as well as the area between the double-spaced text, and the page margins (one inch or two centimeters on all sides, but some publishers asj for even wider side matgins)

    William Shunn's site is the most frequently cited reference on proper manuscript format. Here is the link to his page on Short Story manuscript format.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find courier a little boring too, just like Times New Roman... Or maybe they just don't fit my story... it doesn't read very well in those fonts...I think courier is perfect for thrillers or similar, because it looks like old fashioned typewriting, and it gives a suiting impression of a detective/crime-mystery to be solved...luckily the publishers I am going to submit to doesn't have specific requests for fonts, just that it should be easily readable... Right now I'm writing in book antiqua, at least in this editing stage, because I like how it fits the story. I haven't decided yet which one to use the day I submit it.
     
  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    How do I know which the monospaced fonts are?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's one of the font properties. It's either monospaced or proportional, and you want monospaced. If you can't tell, use Courier or Courier New.

    Don't worry whether it's "boring", your objective is to provide what the publisher wants.
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    is there a way to tell which is monospaced and proportional, other than studying them closely and measure the distance between the letters? ;)
     
  10. PenandPencil
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    PenandPencil Member

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    Thanks a million for that link, Cogito. I'm still reading it and it's helping me a lot.

    I suppose I will have to change to Courier - it is much easier to read, I know that myself, and if it is a sort-of requirement I might as well use it. I have no notion of other Monospaced fonts, so Courier will do, I'm sure! I never knew about the two-hyphen approach, or the italic-underlining thing either.

    Also, when you say about indenting 1cm, is that the distance that the TAB key offers? I always press TAB when I start a new paragraph. Is that ... correct?
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on your tab settings. But don't use the TAB key. change your paragraph settings for your default paragraph style to use a first line indent of the specified width. It's under Styles.

    In fact, you should consider creating a document template for manuscripts. I have two of them: one for short stories, the other for novels. That way I don't mess up templates I use for other purposes, like general letters and memos.

    Templates sound intimidating, but they are really pretty easy and well wortth learning. There are great tutorials on Microsoft's site if you are using Word.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    tnr is too tiny and cramped for comfortable reading all day, every day... plus, does not allow as much space for editorial marks/comments, which is why you'll find most agents/editors/publishers prefer courier for submitted mss...

    all else [query/proposal/synopsis] can go in tnr and should be single-spaced...
     

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