Nothing can make a mess of your book’s visual appeal more than bad formatting, not to mention that it will annoy anyone who works on the manuscript, from beta readers and editors to the person doing your print formatting.
Seasoned writers tend to get this right without thinking about it – to them, there is no other way. Beginner writers tend to make these basic formatting mistakes without realising how much extra work they are giving not only their editor or formatter, but also themselves.
Here’s why getting your basic formatting correct is important: print and e-book publishers/distributors have formatting instructions that need to be followed exactly. If they are not, your final product will look horrible and may even receive a few bad reviews just because of that, if it’s enough of a mess visually. Some publishers may even reject a badly formatted manuscript simply because it will take up too much time to fix the formatting, and time is money.
Here are some very basic formatting rules to follow when writing your manuscript:
–> Do not hit ‘tab’ or ‘space’ to make indents. If you want to use indents (which you should, in a fiction novel), you need to set the document tabs via MS Word’s formatting menu.
–> Do not hit ‘enter’ to start a new page when starting a new chapter. Insert a page break via MS Word’s insert menu.
–> Do not hit ‘space’ a few times to centre your headings. Hit the ‘centre’ button on MS Word’s formatting tool bar.
–> Do not insert ‘a million’ spaces to leave a blank line. Hit ‘enter’ twice.
–> Do not hit ‘half a million’ spaces to start a new line. Hit ‘enter’ once.