Preparing Your Manuscript for an Editor

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When you hire an editor, whether you are self-publishing or publishing traditionally, that person will want your document formatted in a specific way.

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.

Basic formatting requirements for preparing your manuscript:

  1. Use Word
    • This allows the editor to use the track changes feature 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 only, not dark blue, not regular blue, not purple, etc.
  5. 1-inch margins, all around
  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. You can increase the font slightly, if you’d like, but don’t go crazy. Don’t change font, don’t add bold, no extra spaces etc.
  12. Add a header: title, last name, page numbers
    • This should be added to every page after the title page.

If you are preparing your manuscript 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, you will be saving your 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.

Style Sheet original design, navy blue square within rose pink square, woman holding pen and writing in notebook

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.

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