The one thing that’s difficult to find is comprehensive information about how to use the technology that goes hand in hand with using a computer to write. This is a series of posts about how to coerce your word processor into making your novel presentable. If you have any requests you’d like to see covered, please let me know in the comments.
I’m working on a Windows system with newer software. If you’re looking for older versions of Word, or for Mac instructions, let me know that as well and I’ll get it posted.
Novel Manuscript Formatting: Microsoft Word 2007/2010
There are at least two different ways you can format your manuscript into a recognizable standard. One is before you start writing and one is after you finish. For those of you who start out in Scrivener and then move to Word once you’ve got a draft or two finished, I have tips for you too, but that’s a different post.
If you’re starting from scratch, staring at that blank screen in Word that’s so intimidating, this is a fantastic way to waste a few seconds. At least, the first time around.
- Open Microsoft Word (heh, I suppose that’s a given), and go into a new document.
- There are a series of tabs across the top of the screen that say ‘File’, ‘Home’, ‘Insert’, etc. If you’re not already on ‘Home’, click on it.
- Right click in the main document, and select ‘Font’ from the drop-down menu.
- Under ‘Font’, select either ‘Times New Roman’ or ‘Courier New’. Either is a standard. Courier takes up more space on the page so if you want it to look like you’r novel is really long, Courier works better ^_~. To the right of that is font size. Select ’12’.
- Click ‘Set as Default’. A new prompt will come up and ask “Do you want to set the default font to (font name and size) for: This document only, or All documents pased ont eh Normal.dotm template”. If you want these settings to apply every time you create a brand new word document (recommended), says “All documents…” and click ‘OK’
- Right click on the blank page again. This time click on ‘Paragraph’ in the menu.
- Under the paragraph tab, go to the ‘Indentation’ section. In the ‘Left’ box, highlight whatever is in there and type .50. In the drop-down next to it that says ‘Special’, select ‘First Line’. This will automatically indent every first line of a new paragraph without having to use tab.
- Under ‘Spacing’, set the ‘After’ to 10 pt. Uncheck box that says “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style. In the drop-down for ‘Line Spacing’ set it to ‘Single’.
- Click ‘Set as Default’. A new prompt will come up and ask “Do you want to set the default aligment, indentation, and spacing of the paragraphs for: This document only, or All documents pased ont eh Normal.dotm template”. If you want these settings to apply every time you create a brand new word document, says “All documents…” and click ‘OK’
Tip: If you have an existing manuscript you’d like to do this with, before following the steps above, press ‘Ctrl’+’A’ on your keyboard. This will select all text in the document. Then follow the steps above to apply these formatting changes.
If you have any existing tabs at the beginning of paragraphs, you can clear them all out. Press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘H’ to open the Find/Replace menu. At the bottom left corner is a button that says ‘More >>’. Click it. (If it says ‘Less >>’, don’t click it, it’s already open).
At the bottom of the ‘More’ menu, is a button that says ‘Format’. Click that, and then select ‘Tabs…’. A new window will open. Leave the ‘Tab Stop Position’ box blank. Make sure ‘Left’ is selected under ‘Alignment’. Click ‘Clear All’. Click ‘OK’.
Coming in future installments:
- How to set up chapter headers so they auto-number/renumber as neccessary.
- Setting up headers/footers/page numbering/cover pages
- How to export from Scivener in a default format
- Whatever else there’s a need for.