How to Format a Book Manuscript for
Submission to Editors
Know How to Format a Book Manuscript – Get a Toe in the Door
If you’re planning to submit your novel to a literary agent or an editor at a publishing house, it
should be in as meticulous a condition as you would strive to be in if you were going to a job
interview; and this means knowing how to format a book into a proper manuscript. Various
guidelines exist on how to format a book manuscript, but those identified here are generally
accepted requirements; they indicate what a literary agent or editor expects from you if they ask
to see your novel.
And, if an agency or publishing house has requested to see your manuscript, you don’t want to
screw up the opportunity by sending them a mis- or unformatted document. I think it’s better to
learn how to format a book manuscript properly.
For a visual of how a manuscript will look after following these generally accepted guidelines,
please click here to reference the How to Format a Book Manuscript Sample.
How to Format a Book Manuscript – Creating the Page Format
A manuscript’s unique layout serves two important purposes:
1. It allows extra space for writing comments on the margins by a reviewer
2. It allows for an easy-to-read presentation of the novel.
To accomplish this, start by going into the “Page Layout” feature of your Word document and
setting up the correct margins:
The margins of a manuscript should be set to:
Top Margin: 1.5 inches
Bottom Margin: 1.5 inches
Left side: 1.5 inches
Right side: 1.25 inch
How to Format a Book Manuscript – The Title Page
The manuscript Title Page (sometimes referred to as the Cover Sheet) is the first page of your
manuscript and it will include the following information:
The top left of this page will have your contact information: name, mailing address,
phone number and email address – single spaced.
The top right of this page will have the word count of your manuscript. Round the word
count to the nearest ten.
About 1/3 of the way down the page (about 14 single-spaced lines from the top margin
line), center and type the novel’s title. Drop down two spaces, center, and type: “By”.
Drop down two spaces, center, and type your name.
How to Format a Book Manuscript – The Header and Footer
The Page Header – Set the page header to 1.2”. Type the title of your book and your
name – Murderous Exchange/Joe Writer – into the page header and click “enter” 3 times
to make spacing of the page turn out correctly.
So that the headers shows up on every page of the manuscript, except the title page, set up the
Title Page header second and the header of the first page of your novel first. On the first page of
your novel, which is Chapter 1, use the Heading/Footing feature “Different First Page” to set the
heading for this page and all that follow. Then go back to the title page and create that header.
The Page Footer – insert page numbers into the Footer of the document – again having
the numbers first appear not on the title page, but on the first page of the first chapter of
the novel – as “2” ( or the 2nd page, the title page being the unnumbered “1”.) Note: set
up the footer at the same time that you set up the header for the first page of your novel
Additionally, it’s become customary to have “mf” appear in the footer; this means “more
follows” and should be on the left side of every page except the final page.
You can finish reading this article on our website about how to format a book manuscript.