If you have ever struggled with formatting your manuscript in MS Word before, here are a few things that should make life a little easier and ensure your manuscript looks professional before you self-publish.
1. Add Page Breaks
You insert a page break when you want to tell Word that the next line needs to start on a new page. These are ideal for ensuring that new chapters always appear at the top of the next page. No matter how many lines you add in before the page break, the next chapter heading will stay in the same place. It saves you having to press the enter key loads of times, and then go back over and check every chapter heading if you make some other changes to your document.
Either go to the ‘Insert’ menu and click on ‘Page Break’ (with the cursor in the place where you want to put it) or hold down Ctrl + Enter.
2. Justify your text
Take a look at most published books and you will see that the text is justified i.e both ends of each line reach the page margins so you get a straight line of text both sides. Simply highlight the text that needs to change (or hold down Ctrl + A to select all text) and click on the justify icon.
3. Use paragraph styles
Keeping the format and layout of your document consistent is very important. One way of doing this is to use the Paragraph styles tool in Word. You give each variation on the type of text you want a particular name, or ‘style’ and then when you want to change all your chapter headings, for example, you just need to click to change the style, rather than go through your document and edit each one. Take a look at this helpful tutorial on styles from Emma Barnes of Snowbooks (there’s also a part 2 and part 3).
4. Remember the page numbers
Don’t forget these little guys – they should feature at the bottom and we recommend that they should be centred to ensure they always appear in the same place.
5. Use the undo tool
If you make a mistake and lose half your text, just click the ‘undo’ icon in the edit menu or hold down Ctrl + Z and you will step back to the stage before you made the mistake.
As with any software, it is always worth setting aside some time to play around with your novel. Remember to save the new version under a different name so you can always return to the original if you need to. And if you are not sure how to do something, just ask google and you will generally find the answer!
You may also want to take a look at these articles:
I know people like to choose their own font but TNR is reliable!
And another tip from editor Clare Hey (@clareaux on Twitter) – if you are using an editor, don’t send the manuscript to an editor as a PDF. If they are editing on screen, that creates a massive headache. Best send as a word document.