Generally, authors often do not place too much thought into how to organize their manuscript document—the primary goal is usually to just get their words down, you know, get their thoughts into words…
I wanted to share a bit of insight into how to help your book project in the long-run, by organizing your manuscript document so that less time has to be spent later in the process. By having a well-structured manuscript document, the amount of effort placed on proofing and final layout can be reduced (translation: less cost for you).
Depending upon your aptitude for working on a computer, some authors are tempted to do the interior layout design during the writing of the manuscript (ie. writing the book in a layout that mimics a book itself…). This is not recommended at all – it is best to write a manuscript in a simple Word format (see our standards below), so that editing and proofing of the manuscript can be done easily (without having to worry about the impact on the physical layout design). Keeping your manuscript in a simple word processor, such as Word, allows for other helpful features such as “track changes” to be implemented during the editing and proofing phases.
There is no need to be concerned about the layout aspects of your book, during manuscript writing. Those should be developed once the final title and cover concept are in place and using a proficient designer is well worth your investment! (and be sure they understand publishing, not just how to use a layout package such as Adobe’s InDesign).
A simple way to think of the overall process is:
- Write your manuscript
- Edit (structural, copy edit, fact-checking if needed, proofing)
- Cover design
- Interior layout design (samples as templates)
- Pour the manuscript into the interior layout design (templates)
- Proofread again
MPS Manuscript Standards:
- Keep all manuscript content in a single Word file. Keep any cover copy (text for your cover’s front, back, spine and flaps) together in a second Word file.
- Begin each section and chapter on a new page using page breaks. Do not use section breaks.
- Do not insert blank pages as placeholders for the layout version. For example, if a section title page would be blank on the back in the final layout version, do not include a blank page in the Word manuscript. These pages will be added during the design phase.
- Use single line spacing.
- Spacing before and after breaks should always be set to 0 pt (setting in Word).
- Separate paragraphs with a blank line. Do not indent paragraphs.
- Use single spaces between sentences.
- Use the following font styles consistently throughout the manuscript:
- Section titles 18pt Arial bold
- Chapter headings 14pt Arial bold
- Subheading Level A 12pt Arial bold
- Subheading Level B 12pt Times New Roman bold
- Subheading Level C 12pt Times New Roman bold, italics
- All body text 12pt Times New Roman
- Table or Figure Titles 12pt Times New Roman bold
- Pull quotes 12pt Times New Roman italics, centred on page
- – Pull quote attribution 12pt Times New Roman, centred below pull quote, preceded by en dash
- For chapter headers, indicate the chapter number followed by a colon. Place the name of the chapter on the line below.
- Italics are preferred for indicating emphasis, saving bold for titles and subheads. Avoid underlining.
- Ensure hyphens, en-dashes, and em-dashes are properly formatted and displayed
- Sally is a six-year-old child.
- The score was 8 – 4.
- But wait—there’s more.
- Maintain an accurate table of contents reflecting the sections and chapters. Corresponding page numbers are not required.
- Number pages in the right-hand corner of the footer. Do not include any other info in the footer.
- Use Track Changes to mark your edits. Use Comment Tags to query any content or leave notes for the author.