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CathleenT
12-03-2014, 04:14 AM
Okay, I'm a little embarrassed to have so many posts, but not embarrassed enough to quit asking questions. I solemnly promise to do a QLH crit for every answer so that I give back.

Iíve got a bunch of questions about formatting manuscripts for submission. I want to start this off by saying I have read Cathy Cís excellent post on formatting a manuscript, and Iím grateful for it. However, it was written in 2006, and Iím concerned that some things may be out-of-date, and I had additional questions not covered by the post. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

1) Chapter breaks. The post says: ďThere is much debate on where on the page to begin typing text upon starting a new book chapter. The two primary methods are: 1) Quad space (two double spaces) from the top margin, after which the words Chapter XX are center justified (and may be bolded, italicized, typed in ALL CAPITALS, or underscored), then drop down two more double spaces and begin to type; or 2) Double space until approximately 1/3 of the way down the page, center justify the words Chapter XX (and may be bolded, italicized, typed in ALL CAPITALS, or underscored, drop down two more double spaces and begin to type. It is recommended that authors seek guidelines from publishers as to how they prefer chapter start points.Ē

1a. Is there a clear preference between starting chapters in either the first or second method today?
1b. Is there a preference as to how you font the chapters Ė bolded, italicized, all caps, or underscored? (I just capitalized Chapter and the relevant number.)

2) The post says: ďCourier 12/Courier New is the industry standard for book manuscript preparation. Authors of both fiction and non-fiction are strongly encouraged to use Courier 12/Courier New when submitting manuscripts to agents or publishers.Ē

My experience is scanty, but Iíve yet to see Courier recommended. Some places ask for Times New Roman; some donít specify at all.

2. What font should I use if none is specified? (I was going to go with Times New Roman, but I can certainly change that if Courier is a better idea.)

3) Cover Sheet. Iíve beta read for a published author, and I noticed she used one. (I am submitting in the US.)

3. Should I use a cover sheet, and if so, what should go on it?

4) Headers. The post says: ďFor the purpose of submitting manuscripts in print, headers are considered industry standard. Headers should contain some combination of: Title/Author/Page #/Date. However, some companies discourage using them when sending an electronic file, since the header command might not translate to the agentís/publisherís computing platform (PC, Mac, Linux.) Since there is no specific industry standard with regard to submitting in electronic, the author should check the guidelines for the publisher.Ē

4a. Do we still put the date in the header? I havenít seen that before.
4b. Does the header also go on the first page? (Not including cover page, if I should need one.)
4c. Should I use a header in email submissions if no specification is given?

5) Indenting on paragraphs. The post says: ďTabbing once at the beginning of a new paragraph is industry standard.Ē I already do this, and my tabs are set to a half-inch, which I believe is standard also.

But Iíve read somewhere else that I should indent another way. It had something to do with setting margins and I never fully understood it. But itís never really mattered until now.

5a. Is there a better way to indent paragraphs in manuscript than using the tab key?

And a related question, since most submissions are now email:

5b. Or should I use the email format (no indents at all, single-spaced, double-spaces between paragraphs)? Would this method be safer from unintended formatting due to different browsers?

6) Word count. The post says: ďThe word processor word count is slowly becoming the norm in the publishing industry. However, because the word processor counts every single word, from "a" to "publishing" as one word, itís difficult for a publisher to use it to determine page count after printing. For this, a publisher often relies on the 250/page method below. Many agencies/publishers still request that an author provide the word count using the other method.Ē

6. I believe Iíve read that we should go with Wordís word count, and not bother with the 250 words per page thing. Is this correct?

7. Are there any other common screw-ups that Iíve neglected to ask about that come to mind?

Also, I want to make it very clear that this is not in any way a criticism of Cathy Cís post, just a request for further information. Sheís an incredibly helpful AW member, and I wouldnít want her to believe that I think of her with anything other than the utmost respect.

Thanks in advance to anyone whoís willing to help with this. :)

Ken
12-03-2014, 05:09 AM
font:
times roman for hardcopies (paper) the serifs make printouts easier to read
courier calibri for soft-copies (emailed, etc) sans serifs
microsoft especially designed courier calibri for screen reading. that's why it's the default in MS Word. Of course you are free to go against that and use some other font and make the programmers feel sad :-(

blacbird
12-03-2014, 05:11 AM
microsoft especially designed courier for screen reading. that's why it's the default in MS Word.(

Microsoft didn't design Courier for anything. Courier has been around since the first typewriter. And it's most certainly not the default in MS Word. The current default (at least as of Office 2010) seems to be Calibri, for some godawful reason.

caw

Ken
12-03-2014, 05:13 AM
oops. you're right. calibri it is. similar spelling. thnx for the correction. we'll pretend it never happened ;-)


Calibri is a humanist sans-serif typeface family designed by Lucas de Groot. In Microsoft Office 2007, it replaced Times New Roman as the default typeface in Word[1] and replaced Arial as the default in PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and WordPad. It continues to be the default in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013.

Calibri is part of the ClearType Font Collection, a suite of fonts from various designers released with Windows Vista. All start with the letter C to reflect that they were designed to work well with Microsoft's ClearType text rendering system, a text rendering engine designed to make text clearer to read on LCD monitors. The other fonts in the same group are Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantia and Corbel. - wikipedia

Locke
12-03-2014, 05:30 AM
microsoft especially designed courier for screen reading. that's why it's the default in MS Word. Of course you are free to go against that and use some other font and make the programmers feel sad :-(
*responding to a now-edited post, but damnit I spent half an hour writing it so here it is!

[citation needed]

Courier was commissioned in the 50's by IBM for Selectric typewriters. It's a monospaced font, and as far as readability goes, it's not the best. It's preferred not for readability but for predictability and common support among differing pieces of software. It'd be extremely uncommon for a modern OS not to feature the Courier or Courier New (the latter updated to conform to TTF/Monospace standards) font face, so it's one that the agent/publisher and writer are bound to share, while offering the convenience that the number of words on a page is fairly even, as opposed to a variable-width font such as Verdana (which is a font face commissioned by Microsoft for screen readability). Sometimes I have to wonder if those who prefer Courier or Courier New in the modern age bear that preference in a desire to hold on to their old typewriters.

The default font in MS Word can be configured by the user. In older editions of Word, the installed default was Times New Roman. In more recent versions, it's been Calibri (another font I'm not too fond of).

tl;dr: if your preferred font is acceptable to whoever you're sending the MS to (e.g. they didn't specify, but changing it is always just a few clicks away), then you're fine. If not, change it.

Niiicola
12-03-2014, 05:56 AM
Here's what I do:

Font: Times New Roman, 12pt (Courier is OK too but I hate it)

Cover page: Name, address, contact info in upper left, word count rounded to nearest 1,000 (using Word's count) in upper right, TITLE halfway down the page, centered, "by Niiicola" centered underneath.

Set everything after the cover page to double space.

To get indents at the first line of paragraphs in Word, go to Paragraph > Indentation > Special > First line > By 0.5". Now every time you hit enter, it'll indent the next line.

After each chapter ends, add a page break so the next chapter starts on a fresh page. I don't bother to start my chapters midway down the page, but plenty of people do. I all-cap CHAPTER 1, etc., and bold it.

I also add a header with TITLE / My Name on upper left, page number on upper right, and that goes on every page except the cover page (select "Different first page" under Header)

Not sure if that answers all of your questions, but should cover the majority of it. Good luck!

Cathy C
12-03-2014, 06:07 AM
As you already noted, the post was written in 2006, and that's been a lifetime in the industry. I really do need to update it, so no worries about questioning it. See below in red



1) Chapter breaks. The post says: “There is much debate on where on the page to begin typing text upon starting a new book chapter. The two primary methods are: 1) Quad space (two double spaces) from the top margin, after which the words Chapter XX are center justified (and may be bolded, italicized, typed in ALL CAPITALS, or underscored), then drop down two more double spaces and begin to type; or 2) Double space until approximately 1/3 of the way down the page, center justify the words Chapter XX (and may be bolded, italicized, typed in ALL CAPITALS, or underscored, drop down two more double spaces and begin to type. It is recommended that authors seek guidelines from publishers as to how they prefer chapter start points.”

1a. Is there a clear preference between starting chapters in either the first or second method today?

No clear preference. It's all up to the individual publisher or agent.
1b. Is there a preference as to how you font the chapters – bolded, italicized, all caps, or underscored? (I just capitalized Chapter and the relevant number.) Not really.

2) The post says: “Courier 12/Courier New is the industry standard for book manuscript preparation. Authors of both fiction and non-fiction are strongly encouraged to use Courier 12/Courier New when submitting manuscripts to agents or publishers.”

My experience is scanty, but I’ve yet to see Courier recommended. Some places ask for Times New Roman; some don’t specify at all. Courier was preferred when editors or agents read PRINT pages. With e-subs being the new norm, it really doesn't matter, but several editors I know prefer a serif font.

2. What font should I use if none is specified? (I was going to go with Times New Roman, but I can certainly change that if Courier is a better idea.) TNR is fine

3) Cover Sheet. I’ve beta read for a published author, and I noticed she used one. (I am submitting in the US.) I usually use one, but that's just me.

3. Should I use a cover sheet, and if so, what should go on it?

At the one third mark, center the name of the book. The next line down, center your name or pen name. Drop down about ten lines and add the year written (mostly for my own personal information.) That's about it.

4) Headers. The post says: “For the purpose of submitting manuscripts in print, headers are considered industry standard. Headers should contain some combination of: Title/Author/Page #/Date. However, some companies discourage using them when sending an electronic file, since the header command might not translate to the agent’s/publisher’s computing platform (PC, Mac, Linux.) Since there is no specific industry standard with regard to submitting in electronic, the author should check the guidelines for the publisher.”

4a. Do we still put the date in the header? I haven’t seen that before. Again, I do for submissions only. Not for purchased manuscripts.
4b. Does the header also go on the first page? (Not including cover page, if I should need one.) No.
4c. Should I use a header in email submissions if no specification is given?
No. Many email submissions want the text in the body of the email, so there aren't any pages.

5) Indenting on paragraphs. The post says: “Tabbing once at the beginning of a new paragraph is industry standard.” I already do this, and my tabs are set to a half-inch, which I believe is standard also.

But I’ve read somewhere else that I should indent another way. It had something to do with setting margins and I never fully understood it. But it’s never really mattered until now.



5a. Is there a better way to indent paragraphs in manuscript than using the tab key?

In Microsoft Word, it's First Line Indent.

And a related question, since most submissions are now email:

5b. Or should I use the email format (no indents at all, single-spaced, double-spaces between paragraphs)? Would this method be safer from unintended formatting due to different browsers? Yes. single space, double spaced between paragraphs.

6) Word count. The post says: “The word processor word count is slowly becoming the norm in the publishing industry. However, because the word processor counts every single word, from "a" to "publishing" as one word, it’s difficult for a publisher to use it to determine page count after printing. For this, a publisher often relies on the 250/page method below. Many agencies/publishers still request that an author provide the word count using the other method.”

6. I believe I’ve read that we should go with Word’s word count, and not bother with the 250 words per page thing. Is this correct? Correct.


Thanks in advance to anyone who’s willing to help with this. :)

You're welcome. :)

Locke
12-03-2014, 06:11 AM
To get indents at the first line of paragraphs in Word, go to Paragraph > Indentation > Special > First line > By 0.5". Now every time you hit enter, it'll indent the next line.
Be aware that this feature (paragraph styles) isn't universally supported. At a code level, it's not adding a tab character to the beginning of each paragraph. You can test this for yourself by selecting some text from your WIP and then pasting it in a text editor such as Notepad. There are some word processors that will add a tab every time you start a new paragraph, though. Scrivener comes to mind.

CathleenT
12-03-2014, 08:30 AM
Thanks everybody. I submitted to Spencer Hill Press tonight. I'm submitting to agents tomorrow.

It's surprisingly stressful. The formatting help was invaluable; without it I was paralyzed. :)

Old Hack
12-03-2014, 11:56 AM
Be aware that this feature (paragraph styles) isn't universally supported. At a code level, it's not adding a tab character to the beginning of each paragraph. You can test this for yourself by selecting some text from your WIP and then pasting it in a text editor such as Notepad. There are some word processors that will add a tab every time you start a new paragraph, though. Scrivener comes to mind.

Most of the publishers and agents I work with want manuscripts to be formatted using Styles, rather than individual tab keys being pressed at the beginning of each para and so on.

Scrivener doesn't add tabs at the start of each new para when you tell it not to.


Thanks everybody. I submitted to Spencer Hill Press tonight. I'm submitting to agents tomorrow.

It's surprisingly stressful. The formatting help was invaluable; without it I was paralyzed. :)

Don't submit to any more publishers until you've run out of agents to query. If you do find an agent they probably won't be able to resubmit to the publishers who have already rejected you, and they will probably have a better chance of getting to the right people within those publishers than you have.

Ken
12-03-2014, 04:01 PM
[I]
The default font in MS Word can be configured by the user.

Yep ...

http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/word-help/change-or-set-the-default-font-HP010014408.aspx

Thnx for the additional info.

Was wondering what this meant, from your post:


Courier New (the latter updated to conform to TTF/Monospace standards)

Do all the letters occupy the exact same amount of space in terms of width?

CathleenT
12-03-2014, 09:29 PM
Don't submit to any more publishers until you've run out of agents to query. If you do find an agent they probably won't be able to resubmit to the publishers who have already rejected you, and they will probably have a better chance of getting to the right people within those publishers than you have.


Thanks for the advice, Old Hack. (It seems mildly disrespectful; I always want to add on something like O Helpful Guru at the end.) And Spencer Hill was the only publisher I was planning on submitting to. They're having their open submissions for unagented authors right now, from December 1-10. I thought I'd mention it in case anyone else out there was interested and hadn't read about it in BRBC.
You can find out more on their web page: http://www.spencerhillpress.com/submission.html

They seem to want mostly YA and MG fantasy, from reading their home page.

Anyway, I'll be submitting to agents today. But the gal who posted on BRBC landed a publishing deal with them in open submissions last year, and I've heard the absolute easiest way to get an agent was to have your book sold first, so I thought I'd try Spencer Hill, too. :)

Old Hack
12-03-2014, 10:34 PM
Having a contract in hand is an easy way to land an agent. But it's not a good way to ensure you get the best deal at the best house for you.

If your book's good enough (and there are all sorts of ways to define "good") you'll find an agent the usual way.

AW Admin
12-03-2014, 11:20 PM
Don't use tabs for anything but tables or tabular data.

Name a word processor on any OS from the last ten years that doesn't support paragraph indents.

Scrivener absolutely can set paragraph indents without tabs; check your settings, especially under Compile.

Write and format your ms. in whatever way you like best, until you get ready to submit. Then check to see what the publisher/editor requests in the submission guidelines.

Be consistent. Even if you're consistently "wrong," consistency is much easier to deal with.

The virtue of courier as a typeface is that it is easy to mark up hard copy, and to estimate the castoff (https://www.linkedin.com/pub/kristi-favard/13/b69/343) .

With digital typesetting now there are other ways of doing that, so check to see what the specific publisher/editor requests.

But they're not going to ask you to use tabs for indents; that way lies madness.

Laer Carroll
12-04-2014, 02:29 AM
Last I heard (from Charles Stross, both a programmer and a writer) Scivener uses RTFD, Apple's RTF derivative. So it uses styles rather than tabs to indent paragraphs.

Locke
12-04-2014, 08:47 AM
But they're not going to ask you to use tabs for indents; that way lies madness.

And now I've learned something. I've always had that habit, and have even used it to search and replace tab characters to insert extra carriage returns to make for easy web formatting. I suppose it's a holdover from using tab stops in my high school typing class. But, then again, it's been an age since I've seen a Brother electric typewriter.

Or, for that matter, WordPerfect 5.1.

Since my job involves coding, I wind up using text editors for scratch writing sometimes (not to mention at home, on my aging laptop, it's faster to open a prompt and dive into ViM than to fire up LibreOffice), and they definitely don't support paragraph styles unless I decide to mark it up with HTML and CSS. But now I'm just rambling.