June 26, 2023
Are you planning to offer your book to a publishing company or an agent? If so, you will need to format your book correctly. You might have heard that your manuscript should be in double space text, even though most books are single-spaced. Here’s a brief guide to help clear up the confusion.
When you format a manuscript for publication, you will have to follow the publisher’s guidelines. In some cases, you may not have specific publisher’s guidelines to use. Here’s a standard format that will work for most books. Following it will ensure that your book is ready for review by an agent or editor:
If you’re using one of the standard word processing formats, it is easy to set up your manuscript with its built-in tools.
You should use double space text in your title page. Format the title page as follows:
The Voyage of the Dawn Trader
Book 2 of the Chronicles of Narnia
When you write a double space manuscript, you make life easy for the reader. It’s faster and easier to read double space text, and it allows the reader to focus on one line at a time.
This is why many schoolteachers and college professors require double space papers in their assignments. Double space text allows the instructor to spot factual errors, grammatical mistakes, and other problems with the text.
Similarly, professional editors and proofreaders work better when they work with double space pages. Single spacing doesn’t allow for this close scrutiny. Reading with plenty of space between the lines, they can spot and correct all the nitpicky details that turn a rough draft into a finished manuscript.
Yes, it’s true that most novels and nonfiction books are single-spaced when you see them in their final, printed form.
There are several reasons for this. First, it is what readers expect. Readers, like everyone else, want what’s familiar, and single spacing—usually with double space between paragraphs—is what is most familiar.
That’s why your book will likely be printed as a single-spaced novel, memoir, cookbook, or romance, even if you had to submit it as a double space manuscript.
Another reason publishers prefer single-spaced books is that they cost less to print. Using double space text on a book would double the cost of producing and printing it. That’s not a cost any publisher would be willing to take on. Self-published authors would find it doubly hard to cover the price of printing.
Finally, books with double space printing would be large and heavy. A reader would find it difficult to toss a book into their bag or slide a paperback into their pocket if books were twice their size.
All things considered, it’s easy to see why single spacing has become the norm in book publishing.
Children’s books often have large spaces between sentences because children have trouble reading a dense wall of text. If you look at children’s books, you’ll see that they often have just one sentence on a page.
Children are still learning to identify letters and single words, and they’re just at the start of learning how to string those letters and words into full sentences. Once readers gain experience, they make those connections quickly.
Some publishers print books that are easy for people with poor eyesight to read. These books feature extra-large fonts that make it easy for people to read the text. These are known as large print books, and they are available from most publishers.
These books also have lots of white spaces that can look like they’re double spaced. But despite how they look, they still use the same single-spacing format that most books use.
Here’s a more detailed look at the elements of a well-formatted manuscript.
When you choose a font for your book, it’s best to use a serif font. Sans serif fonts can work for headlines and subheadings, especially in nonfiction books, but for the main body, a serif font is better.
What is the difference? A serif font has a “tail” or “hook” on each letter. It is the type of style you see in most newspapers, magazines, and professionally printed books. Serif font is easier to read because the tiny hooks work like links that bind each letter to the next. They are naturally easier to read than serif fonts.
Examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman, Garamond, Baskerville, Georgia, and Amasis.
Sans serif means “without serif,” and it’s a font that doesn’t have the little hooks. Letters are cleanly shaped and round. Sans serif is often used for online publishing because it is well-suited to the quick reading most people give blog posts and online articles. It is not a good choice for a printed book, however, because page after page of sans serif text is tiring to the eyes.
Examples of sans serif fonts are Helvetica, Calibri, Futura, Vilane, Laro Soft, and Open Sans.
When you prepare your manuscript, use left-aligned justification for each paragraph.
What is justification when it comes to printing? Open any book, and you’ll see that the text is perfectly aligned on both sides of the page. This gives the book a polished, elegant feel and makes it easier to read.
It isn’t possible to get that perfect justification in your word-processed manuscript, however. Only a book designer or a professional printer can align the text to make it line up evenly on both sides.
The next best way to justify your manuscript is to make it left-aligned. This is easy to do with any word processing software. Justify everything to the left, and leave the right side alone. This type of formatting is sometimes called “ragged right.” You don’t want your book to be published with ragged right pages. Professional printing will give you the neatly aligned pages of a correctly justified book.
Your novel may have special characters in it, but that’s not what we’re talking about. In this case, it means things like:
Many writers think they can get by using the quotation marks that come with your word processing program or substituting three periods for an ellipsis. But your word processing program comes with specific typesetting-ready symbols that you must use instead.
In Microsoft Word, you can find them by clicking the “Insert” menu. Choose “Symbols,” and click on the one you want to use.
Getting your book published starts with making a great impression on a potential publisher. If you want your manuscript to appear professional to publishing houses and future readers, make sure you format your book correctly. A clean, readable manuscript is easy to read, and it will get a much better reception than a sloppily formatted one. It’s worth the time and trouble it takes to get this right.
If you have a book that you’d like to see in print, contact Publishing Xpress. We specialize in working with self-published authors, and we offer expert printing at affordable rates.
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