Monday, August 13, 2012

I Don't Have to Press Enter or TAB, What? HOW TO FORMAT YOUR MS

Over the past few days I’ve been witness, via Twitter, to several writers suffering from “manuscript formatting confusion” so what better topic to discuss today than that! (Disclosure: all of this I learned a few years ago from agent Vickie Motter’s blog. I couldn’t find the actual post, but if you want to look for it try here.)


-Line spacing should be double

-Before and After should be 0 (zero) pt.


-One inch margins all the way around


-choose either Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial (Or another like these. Be careful not to choose anything too bizarre--it's about the words, not looking fancy.)

-12 pt.


-Press Ctrl+Enter  (DO NOT press enter over and over to get to a new page; when reading the ms on an e-reader—like most agents/editors do, it will show up as a large white space)


Under the Paragraph tab, go to the Indents and Spacing tab and then Indentations. (Be sure you’ve highlighted all of your ms by pressing Ctrl+A first). Then set Left and Right to 0’’ and set Special for First Line to .5’’. This will ensure that all of your paragraphs automatically indent. Do NOT press the TAB key for indentations; it doesn’t show up on e-readers.

**If you already have an ms where you’ve pressed the TAB key for indentations, you can use the Find and Replace tool (Ctrl+f) to search “^t” and replace it with a blank. This will remove all of the TABs from your ms. You may want to do this before.


Because some e-readers have difficulty recognizing .docx documents, it's best to save it as .doc. (I've tested this out on my iPad and, sure enough, the .docx ms was missing  ALL the indents.)


And that’s it! Happy formatting everyone!


  1. Thanks for this. I'm going to go fix :)

  2. I really love this post Nicole. This is very important information to have for us writers and something that many probably don't know. Thank you do much for posting!! ;)

  3. I think this might be the post. :)

  4. This is crazy awesome information! Thanks for sharing!