Sunday, February 24, 2013

Formatting without total hair loss

As I get closer to finishing my WIP, the task of formatting for submission looms large.
My WIP has been in progress for several years on several computers, XP and mac.

It has quirks and smirks like an irascible toddler, and will need decisive keyboard strokes to erase the inevitable--and hidden--embedded "instructions." (Like I really wanted it to change the indent from .5 to .6. Not.)

I know publishers have their own set of formatting rules. So do contests and agents.
Do you have a secret for training your computer to know what you want in format?

Have you pulled out your hair trying to get Word to accept corrected chapters?

Do you cut and paste individual chapters into a final document and then final format?

Tips and horror stories would be appreciated.


  1. I think most publishers want manucripts in Word (doc. and not docx) or RTF format.
    Some might want paragraphs auto-indented (i.e. not tabbed) - I always use the Word first line auto-indent.
    I also click the 'show formatting' icon in Word, which highlights spaces between words, and also any extra spaces at the end of paragraphs, so that I can get rid of them!

  2. Oh Ana...I feel your pain. I just recently learned to remove the pesky dark dotted line that appears when you hit enter after putting in a line of astericks. (If you don't hit backspace right away, that sucker is there to stay.)

    When I'm ready to submit a mss, I head right for my TWRP Authors' Guidebook which takes me step by step through some formatting procedures. There are over a dozen things it helps to do: indents, elipsis, em dashes, page breaks, etc. Without the guidebook I would be lost.

  3. I've had that annoying line appear, Debra, and not been able to get rid of it.
    TWRP has a guidebook. Good to know.

  4. To get rid of that line, go into file, options, proofing, auto correct, auto format as you type, then UNcheck border lines. That should stop the line appearing!

  5. Just discovered an easier way! Instead of typing a row of asterisks, type alternate asterisk space, asterisk space, etc - and you don't get the line!

  6. I go with the standard 12 point sans serf font that's double spaced. I've written five books (all unpublished) but am having a hard time with the sixth. The plotting just isn't coming on this one.

  7. Not really, Ana - I was just curious about why I didn't get a line after typing asterisks, so I investigated!

  8. Sorry to hear you are wrestling with your plot, Joyce.
    What do your characters want to do?

  9. I'm dreading having to do that with mine too, Ana! Paula, thanks for the dotted line tip (I have one line stuck in my manuscript and now I know how to get rid of it!). Debra, I'm really hoping I get one of those books from RIP!