May 22, 2024
How a Manuscript Should Be Formatted for Self-Publishing

How a Manuscript Should Be Formatted for Self-Publishing

Authors and a leading book writing services are brimming with concepts, information, and creativity. They also possess the talent for generating engrossing stories, fascinating sentences, and persuasive arguments. This does not imply that an author is naturally gifted in formatting and presentation, as these are two completely different skill sets.

Because they are so terrified by the formatting stage of the process, some aspiring writers even delay their publishing goals. If you dare to create a book, it is more than possible for you to learn how to format your book for publication. This article will tell basic guidelines to help you properly format your manuscript for your self-publishing book. 

What Is A Manuscript?

Before we tell you to dive into the guidelines of formatting a manuscript for self-publishing, let’s first focus on what a manuscript actually is. There is a distinction between a book and a manuscript, similar to that between a writer and an author. Anyone who writes is a writer. Authors are writers whose works have been made public.

Considering that books and manuscripts are essentially equivalent, the following would provide an acceptable definition of the term “manuscript”:

When you make a draft of the novel and then prepare it to send to the publisher, that document is called a manuscript. Your self-publishing book’s manuscript can be written in hard copy or soft copy. 

Why Is Formatting A Manuscript So Crucial?

It’s possible that you haven’t even thought about formatting guidelines for self-publishing because you believed a publisher would take care of it. This might be a legitimate assumption if you deal with a significant publishing business. However, when submitting a book for self-publishing, you’ll want to showcase your work professionally to make a favorable impression.

You want the text and pictures to work together as a whole for your self-publishing book. Unless this is done, the project’s final appearance will come off as a bit rough.  

Making sure the text looks decent overall, including the margins, headers, and pagination, is known as proper formatting. To ensure that readers never lose interest, you should create a book that is both aesthetically pleasing and simple to follow.

When formatting ebooks or print publications, you must follow some rules regarding font choices, margins, and layout.

Formatting A Manuscript For Your Self-Publishing Book:

When they open the first page of a Microsoft Word project, some start formatting their work immediately. Others prefer to finish a document entirely before caring about page arrangement or paragraph indents. There is a wrong way to style a manuscript, even though there is no incorrect moment to do so. A web content writing service can help ensure that your document is properly formatted and aesthetically pleasing, while also ensuring that the content is clear and concise.

Unfortunately, you cannot just upload your Word or Google file to your self-publishing platform. There are several prerequisites that you need to meet. And this is where things may get complicated, especially depending on your chosen platform.

In short, the reader can’t read some documents. Due to this, you’ll need to convert them to the appropriate format or make the necessary formatting changes to your text.

Formatting Guidelines for your self-publishing book’s Manuscripts

Each agent and publisher may have slightly different submission requirements; some may state that they prefer the AP (Associated Press) Style or The Chicago Manual of Style, while others may give their own style-specific requirements.

Naturally, you want to provide someone who specifies what they want if you are submitting to them. The best course of action is to make your own decisions when self-publishing, but make sure you’re consistent.

Use the same method each time, such as writing out numbers between 0 and 9 and using digits for any after that. They could readily alter them if they desired to.

Regarding the arrangement and design of your manuscript’s pages, adhering to a few general guidelines will make your work appear polished. 

1.      Font:

In general, Times New Roman 12-point font should be used. Times New Roman with a 12-point font size is the industry standard, even though some agents and editors may prefer other serif or sans serif fonts like Arial or Courier New.

2.      Margins:

All sides of your pages should have one-inch margins (so your top, bottom, left, and right margins should all be uniform). These should be the margins that MS Word and other word processors use by default.

3.      Indentations:

You should indent a new paragraph’s starting line by a half-inch. The tab key can be used once to do this in the majority of word processors.

All lines should have double spaces between them. If you double-space your lines, reading and annotating your writing will be easier. You should not leave any space between the paragraphs.

4.      Alignment:

On The left-hand side of your page, you should align your words as there won’t be a straight line on the right side of your page.

5.      Page Counts:

Beginning with the first new page following the title page, page numbers start at one and go up sequentially. You can also use roman numerals to identify the pages in the front matter, such as the table of contents, copyright page, and ISBN information.

6.      Scene changes:

Add a blank line with a hashmark or three asterisks in the middle to denote scene breaks.

7.      Italics:

You need to italicize the words that you intended in the past by underlining. Normally writers use Italics.

8.      Sentence separation:

Use a space to separate each phrase after the period. Even though many people habitually press the space bar twice to separate phrases by two spaces, this is incorrect.

9.      Ending:

After the final line, center the word “END” to signify the conclusion of your manuscript.

10.  Page width:

Your paper should be 8.5 by 11 inches in size.


The way your manuscript is presented has a significant impact on how literary agencies view it. Yes, absolutely; great writing is what agencies are searching for, above all else. Thus your manuscript’s formatting is secondary in that regard. However, finding an agent is difficult, so you might as well create a strong first impression. 

Naturally, keep in mind that literary agents aren’t primarily seeking manuscripts to accept. They are searching for early indicators that this author hasn’t taken enough care to warrant further reading. Therefore, before your book has a chance to prove itself, the cover page’s poor presentation can ruin your prospects of success.

Author Bio

I am Priya Varma, and I have been working as Content Writer at Rananjay Exports for past 2 years. My expertise lies in researching and writing both technical and fashion content. I have written multiple articles on Gemstone Jewelry like turquoise ring and other stones over the past years and would love to explore more on the same in future. I hope my work keeps mesmerizing you and helps you in the future.