Thursday, May 6, 2010

Aspiring Advice: Formatting

Finally. Sunshine. That's what I like to see! 

For some reason, the way blogger formats their text box is really throwing me off at the moment. The font size is either too big or too small--no happy medium. Plus, my totally awesome space background in missing? Anyone having a problem reading my posts? Let me know how it looks on your end, if you have the chance. I might have to make some changes if that's the case.

Anywho; this has been an eventful week. Lot's of work done and a bit of writing on the side, too. Of course, you didn't come here for an update, did you? That's for Monday! You came for advice! That's exactly what I have for you. However, what I want to share may be rather basic for some of you, but I figured it's worth mentioning to the beginning writers who are now following the Laire. So, if you know this stuff already, you're excused from class today. Teehee!

And here it is . . .

Formatting: as a beginning writer, I hadn't a clue what I was doing. After some time, I've learned a few tricks to help make my manuscripts look professional. Keep in mind, I use Microsoft Word 2000. I even bought a used version of it because it's easy to use and I don't want to learn the new/weird/crappy Word program. Yeah. I said it. It's a weird program. Go ahead and follow along with me, if you wish. First, open a document and customize your defaults so that whenever you open a new document, your page will have "one-inch margins" all around. Do this by double-clicking on the side, where it looks like a ruler. This box should pop up.

Next, insert a page number, on the top right of your document.
Then, double click near the number to reveal the header box. Here is were you will write the title of your work--space--(/)--space--your name/pseudonym (or pen name). Click anywhere on your document to exit the header box.

The next step is to make your lines double-spaced. You can find this in your Format tab, then click Paragraph.
Last of all--your font. 12 point New Times Roman is the basic/most legible font out there. That's what you read in just about every printed book, anyway. Please, please no fancy fonts, giant words, or words that are so small that I need a magnifying glass to read your material. I lost my magnifying glass to some angry ants (Weird, huh?), so don't send teenee-tiny writing my way.
Now--you are ready to write--but where on the page do you start?

Start in the middle. Or just start writing! When you have a full page, go back to the top and press Enter/Return until only the first 13 or so lines remain on the first page. You would have about this much white space space, as seen here.

Now, this is the kind of thing that agents and publishers like to see. When you're drafting knew material and printing it for people to look at, to edit, well--you and I both know paper and ink ain't cheap. I usually draft my works with a half space, not double space, and start my prose at the top, to conserve paper. Then, when it's all ready and done, I reformat by selecting all (Control-A)--go to Format--Paragraph--Double Space. Then I hit Enter until I am half a page.
Note: This you must do for ALL chapters. Even if chapter 1 ends with only three lines on the last page, start the next chapter on the next page. If I were you, I would make every chapter a separate document. Good insurance. Trust me.

You got to see the opening hook for Forerunner.
Lucky you!

And, of course, your manuscript needs a title page!

Title and Author, centered, double-spaced, with contact information in the bottom right corner. Please note: Your title page ought to be separate from your manuscript. No page number.

Lastly, your manuscript should be single sided. Words should only be on one side of the page. If you're conserving paper for editing, feel free to use your old documents for scrap instead of throwing it away. The trees will love you for it!

Now that you know how to format, your work will look fantastic! Hopefully this has been of some help to someone. I tell ya. I wish I had known this years ago. I searched the web all over, high and low, and never found help like this.

Thanks for clicking by. Come back Monday for updates!

I'm David, and I want to see Iron Man 2 [------this------] badly!


  1. It has always looked fine to me-I have never noticed any faults in the lettering size.

  2. Maybe my computer's acting funny today.
    Thanks for the feedback, good Sir.