Tips and guidelines for formatting your novel – Create a professional and reader-friendly layout for your book

How to format your novel

When it comes to formatting your novel, there are several things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we will look at some tips and guidelines on how to properly format your manuscript for publication. Whether you are a first-time writer or a seasoned author, these formatting tips will help your book look professional and polished.

One of the first things you should do when formatting your novel is to set up the document in Microsoft Word. Open a new document and set the font size to 12 pt. You may have your own preferences when it comes to font styles, but it’s always a good idea to stick with a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial. This will ensure that your manuscript looks professional and is easy to read.

If you have already finished writing your novel and want to start formatting it, you will need to learn how to add headings and other formatting options. Microsoft Word offers many options for customizing the look of your manuscript. For example, you can set the size of the page, adjust the margins, and add headers and footers.

Another important thing to consider when formatting your novel is the layout of the pages. You want to make sure that your book looks good on paper, so pay attention to details like the line spacing, paragraph indentation, and the placement of chapter headings. You may also want to add a table of contents, which can be done manually or using Microsoft Word’s built-in feature.

When it comes to the content of your novel, make sure you check for any spelling or grammar errors before you start formatting. It’s a good idea to have your manuscript fully edited and proofread before you begin formatting. This will ensure that your book looks professional and polished when it’s finished.

In conclusion, formatting your novel is an important step in the publishing process. By following these tips and guidelines, you can ensure that your book looks professional and is easy to read. Remember to keep the formatting consistent throughout the entire manuscript and pay attention to details like headings, page numbers, and spacing. With the right formatting, your novel will stand out from the rest and attract readers.


  1. “The Essential Guide to Formatting Your Book for Kindle”
  2. “Formatting Your Novel Manuscript”
  3. “Tips for Formatting Your Novel”

Formatting Your Book in MS Word

If you’re a writer looking to self-publish your book or submit it to a publisher, formatting it correctly is crucial. Microsoft Word is a widely used software for writing and editing, and it offers several options to help you format your book professionally. Here are some guidelines and tips for formatting your book in MS Word:

  • Set the page size and margins: Open your book manuscript in Word and go to the “Page Setup” settings. Here, you can select the appropriate page size and set the margins according to your preference. Common page sizes for books are 5.5 x 8.5 inches or 6 x 9 inches.
  • Customize your headers and footers: It’s essential to include running headers or footers that display the book title, author name, and page numbers. You can customize the headers and footers using the options available in the “Header & Footer” section of Word.
  • Apply consistent formatting: Use the built-in styles and formatting options in Word to ensure consistency throughout your book. For example, use the “Heading” styles for chapter titles, the “Normal” style for regular text, and the “First Line Indent” option to format the first line of each paragraph.
  • Add page breaks: To start each new chapter on a new page, insert a page break before the chapter title. This will create a clean separation between chapters and make your book easier to navigate.
  • Use a table of contents: If your book has multiple chapters, consider adding a table of contents at the beginning. MS Word provides tools for automatically generating a table of contents based on the headings you’ve applied to your chapters.
  • Set line spacing and paragraph indents: Adjust the line spacing and paragraph indents according to your preference. The general rule of thumb is to use a 1.5 or double spacing, and to set indents for the first line of each paragraph. This will give your book a professional look.
  • Check for extra spaces or line breaks: Make sure to remove any extra spaces or line breaks that may have been accidentally inserted. These can disrupt the flow of your text and make it look unprofessional.
  • Proofread and edit your book: Remember to thoroughly proofread and edit your book before finalizing the formatting. MS Word provides several editing tools, but don’t solely rely on them. It’s important to also review your book manually and consider hiring a professional editor for a fully-edited manuscript.

By following these guidelines and adjusting the settings in MS Word, you can create a well-formatted book that looks professional and meets industry standards. It’s important to note that different publishers or self-publishing platforms may have their own specific formatting requirements, so be sure to check their guidelines and adjust accordingly.

Import your fully-edited manuscript

Import your fully-edited manuscript

Once you have finished writing and editing your novel, it is time to import your fully-edited manuscript into your chosen writing software. This will allow you to format your book and make it look professional. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you with the process.

If you are working with Microsoft Word, open a new document and set the paper size to the standard book size you want to use. Most books have a 6×9-inch trim size, but you can choose a different size if you prefer. Make sure to set your margins and spacing according to industry standards.

If you have chapter titles or other headings in your manuscript, it is a good idea to use Word’s built-in styles to format them consistently. This will make it easier to navigate through your book and ensure a professional look.

Before you import your manuscript, make sure to remove any extra spacing or formatting that might have been added during the editing process. This includes extra blank lines, double spacing, and tab indentations.

If you want to add page numbers, you can do so by inserting them manually or using Word’s automatic numbering feature. You can also add headers and footers with the book title or author name.

If you are using a software like Scrivener, you can import your manuscript by creating a new project and copying and pasting your text into the editor. Scrivener allows you to break your book into chapters, which makes it easier to navigate and work with.

If you are using other software or writing tools, make sure to consult their tutorials or documentation for instructions on how to import and format your manuscript.

Remember to save a copy of your fully-edited manuscript before you start formatting. This way, if something goes wrong during the formatting process, you can always go back to the original version.

Keep in mind that different publishing platforms and printers may have their own formatting guidelines and requirements. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these guidelines to ensure that your book looks exactly how you want it to.

Once you have imported your manuscript and applied the necessary formatting, take some time to carefully review the final result. Check for any formatting errors, such as inconsistent line spacing or chapter breaks that look out of place. Make sure that the first line of every paragraph is properly indented and that there are no extra spaces between paragraphs.

If you want to add a table of contents, you can do so by using Word’s built-in table of contents feature or by manually creating one. Make sure to update the table of contents whenever you make changes to the chapters or page numbers.

By following these tips and guidelines, you can ensure that your fully-edited manuscript looks polished and professional. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different formatting options to achieve the look and feel you want for your book.

Now that you have learned how to import your fully-edited manuscript, you are one step closer to finishing your book and getting it ready for publication.


One of the most important things to learn when formatting your novel is how to set up your document and pages correctly. You’ll want to open a new document and set the page size to the standard manuscript size. This is generally 8.5 inches by 11 inches, with 1-inch margins on all sides.

Next, you’ll want to set up your headings. A common convention is to use the title of your book as a heading on the first line of each chapter. You can use MS Word’s built-in heading styles or create custom headings manually.

Another important aspect of formatting your novel is the spacing between paragraphs. You’ll want to use the “double” or “1.5” spacing option to give your manuscript a clean, professional look. Additionally, you should set the first-line indent for each paragraph to 0.5 inches. This will give your manuscript a polished appearance.

If you’re working on your first manuscript, you might not be familiar with the concept of using chapter numbers. This is a common practice in book formatting, and it helps readers follow along with the structure of your story. You can place the chapter number and title at the top of each page, aligned to the right or left-hand side.

When it comes to formatting the content of your novel, it’s important to keep in mind that different publishers and editors may have their own guidelines. However, here are some general tips that will help you get started:

  1. Use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial, and set the font size to 12 points.
  2. Use italics for emphasis rather than underlining.
  3. Add scene breaks with a single line or three asterisks. This will help readers distinguish between different scenes or sections of your novel.
  4. If you’re importing your manuscript from another software, make sure to check for any formatting issues. Sometimes, extra spaces, indents, or line breaks can get mixed up in the process.
  5. If you’re self-editing your manuscript, consider using a style guide like “The Chicago Manual of Style” to ensure consistency in punctuation, capitalization, and other grammatical rules.

Lastly, when it comes to formatting your novel for submission, it’s important to follow the submission guidelines of each publisher or literary agent. Some may require specific formatting, such as a title page with your contact information or a table of contents.

Remember, formatting your novel is an essential part of the writing process. It will not only make your manuscript look professional but also help editors and publishers focus on the content of your story. So take the time to learn the proper formatting techniques, and your novel will stand out among the rest!

For more in-depth tutorials on formatting your novel, check out resources like “The Nanowrimo Manuscript Formatting Guide” or “The Fountain: A Guide to Manuscript Formatting”. These resources will provide step-by-step instructions and additional tips to help you perfect the formatting of your novel.

Microsoft Word – Gutter Size

When formatting your novel using Microsoft Word, one important aspect to consider is the gutter size. The gutter is the space between the inner margin or binding edge and the text on your pages. It allows for easier reading, especially in printed books where the pages are bound together.

By default, Word does not show the gutter on your pages. To enable this setting, you would need to manually adjust your document’s margins. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open your document in Microsoft Word.
  2. Go to the “Page Layout” tab in the ribbon at the top of the screen.
  3. Click on “Margins” and select “Custom Margins” at the bottom of the dropdown list.
  4. In the “Page Setup” dialog box that opens, click on the “Layout” tab.
  5. Under the “Page” section, you will find the “Gutter” option.
  6. Enter the desired size for your gutter in the provided field.
  7. Click “OK” to apply the changes to your document.

It is important to note that the recommended gutter size varies depending on the number of pages in your book. Typically, a gutter size of 0.5 inches (or 1.27 cm) works well for books with fewer than 500 pages. For books with more pages, a larger gutter size may be necessary to accommodate the binding process.

Formatting your novel with the correct gutter size ensures that your fully-edited manuscript looks professional and is easy to read. It also helps to keep the first line of each chapter and the page numbers away from the binding edge, following industry guidelines.

If you don’t have Microsoft Word, there are other software options available for formatting your novel. Some popular alternatives include Scrivener, Pages (for Mac users), and even online tools like Google Docs or the Fountain Markdown language for screenwriting.

In conclusion, by learning how to adjust the gutter size in Microsoft Word, you can give your novel the professional finish it deserves. Remember to keep in mind the guidelines for gutter size and always refer back to your content while formatting to ensure everything looks just right.

Finish formatting the manuscript with ‘The End’

Once you’ve completed the writing process and made all the necessary edits, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your manuscript. This final step involves formatting your document to ensure that it is ready for submission or publication. Here are some guidelines to help you along the way:

  1. Set the right page size and margins: Depending on the specific requirements of the publisher or your personal preference, you may need to adjust the size and margins of your pages. Generally, standard manuscript format recommends using an 8.5 x 11-inch size paper with 1-inch margins on all sides.
  2. Keep your line spacing consistent: To make your manuscript look polished and professional, ensure that your line spacing is consistent throughout. Most publishers prefer double-spaced text, but you should check the specific guidelines for your target audience or submission requirements.
  3. Add headings and page numbers: Including headings and page numbers can help readers navigate your manuscript more easily. You can choose from different heading styles depending on your preferences and the genre of your book. Also, remember to place page numbers in the header or footer section of your document.
  4. Consider using custom fonts: While most publishers prefer standard fonts like Times New Roman or Arial, you can add some flair to your manuscript by choosing a different font. However, make sure to verify if your chosen font is acceptable before using it.
  5. Format your chapters: If your book is divided into chapters, it’s essential to format them consistently. Start each chapter on a new page and consider adding chapter titles or numbers to clearly define the structure of your manuscript.
  6. Import your content into dedicated writing software: For an extra level of convenience and organization, consider using specialized writing software like Microsoft Word or Scrivener. These tools offer features and templates specifically designed for writers, making formatting easier and more efficient.
  7. Don’t forget the first-line indent: Most publishers prefer manuscripts with a first-line indent to indicate new paragraphs. Make sure to set this indent to ensure your manuscript looks professional and meets industry standards.
  8. Check for errors: Before finalizing your manuscript, take the time to proofread and edit it carefully. Look for any spelling, grammar, or formatting errors that may have slipped through the cracks during the writing and editing process.

Once you have completed all these formatting steps, you can proudly add ‘The End’ at the conclusion of your manuscript. Remember that having a fully-edited and properly formatted manuscript increases your chances of success when submitting it to literary agents, publishers, or self-publishing platforms.


When it comes to formatting your novel, there are some extra resources that can help you achieve the professional look you want for your book. Here are some sources you can refer to:

Source Description
Microsoft Word Most writers prefer using Microsoft Word to write their manuscripts. It offers various formatting options, like setting the font style and size, line spacing, and first-line indent.
Nanowrimo If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), they provide helpful tutorials and guidelines on how to format your novel.
Custom Software Some writers prefer using custom software designed specifically for writing and editing books. These software often have additional features to assist you in formatting your manuscript.
Numerous Online Resources There are many websites and blogs where you can find tips and tricks for book formatting. These resources are created by experienced authors and editors who share their knowledge and expertise.
Open Source Software If you don’t want to use proprietary software like Microsoft Word, you can explore open source alternatives that offer similar formatting options.

Remember, every writer has their own preferences and working style, so it’s important to find what works best for you. Whether you import your manuscript into software like Word or work manually with a pen and paper, the end goal is to have a fully-edited, well-formatted book that readers will enjoy.

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