Preparing Your Manuscript for an Editor

When you hire an editor, whether you are self-publishing or publishing traditionally, that person will want your document formatted in a specific way. Preparing your manuscript for an editor is a great way to show you are serious about publication.

Most editors like manuscripts consistently formatted. Since most editors use the track changes feature in Word for editing, this makes the editing process easier and faster.

man sitting at laptop typing, small notebook and pen on his left

Basic Formatting Recommendations

  1. Use Word (or Google Docs.)
    • This allows the editor to use the track changes feature (or suggesting feature in Google Docs) to delete, insert, and ask questions directly in the document.
  2. Font in Times New Roman.
  3. Size of Font.
    • 12-point.
  4. Black font.
    • Not dark blue, not regular blue, not purple, etc.
  5. 1-inch margins.
  6. Double space the entire document.
  7. No extra spaces after paragraph.
  8. No bolding or underlining text.
  9. Indent paragraphs at 0.5 inch.
    • Typically, do not indent the first paragraph of the chapter, but do indent all subsequent paragraphs in the chapter.
  10. Use a simple symbol such as *** to indicate the passage of time, change in location, or scene break.
  11. Chapter headings should be centered.
    • They can be numbered only, or you can title the chapters. Don’t add bold, formatting, no extra spaces, etc.
  12. Add a header and footer: title on right header, author name on left header, page numbers on footer.
    • Title page is not numbered, copyright page is not numbered.
    • Dedication, acknowledgments (if using), table of contents, and introduction or prologue (if using) are numbered in roman numerals. Page 1 is the first page of the main body of text.

If you are preparing your manuscript for an editor with the above parameters, you will have satisfied 90% of the editors out there. Be sure to ask your editor if there is anything specific they want to see. Let them know that it is in Times New Roman 12-point font, doubled spaced. From there, if your editor wants to see anything else, they will tell you. Most likely, it will be consistent with the above list, but if not, the changes you make will be minimal.

By sticking to this format when preparing your manuscript for an editor, you will be saving the editor and yourself a headache. At this stage of the game, simple is best.

Extra Steps

In addition, self-edit before you send your manuscript to an editor. Be hyper-critical of wordiness, description, and redundancy. This will save your editor time and save you money. Editors tend to be perfectionists, and they WILL spend the necessary time to fix it. Which might mean more cost for you, as you are paying for their time.

Also, spend the time to create a style sheet. A style sheet indicates your preferences in writing and can include:

  • Style preferences like using the serial comma, or not
    • Apples, bananas, and oranges (serial comma used) vs. Apples, bananas and oranges (serial comma not used)
  • Preference for styling numbers, or dates
  • Character traits and description
  • And more…

Style sheets save time because you are telling the editor up front what you prefer. They will not have to contact you as often or ask as many questions in the document as much. It is also helpful for them to make changes in document that you mistakenly forgot, ie: eye color not right from one chapter to another.

For more on style sheets, click on the image. Here you will get more information on style sheets. It includes an example as well.

That’s it! Now you can feel confident that your manuscript will be ready for that editor.

For more information on me and my editing services, please visit the About and Services pages.

Have a fantastic day!

Michelle Merritt

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