After knowing what a novel is, you might be interested to start writing one. However, in order to get your book published, or picked up by people, you need to ensure that your book is well-formatted, which makes it much more readable.
Beyond the basics of font sizes and types, line spacing, page numbering etc, this article will guide you on how you can format your book and get it ready to be published.
Basic Formatting Tips of a Manuscript
Let’s first take a brief look at the format of a manuscript (before your novel is published):
Margins for your manuscript should be one inch on all four sides.
2. Alignment, line spacing and indentation
The texts should be left-aligned.
The lines should be double-spaced.
Indent every new paragraph, except for the beginning of a chapter or if there is a change in scenes.
It should be 12pt, black in colour and standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
There should be a header on each page, with the author’s surname, title of the novel and page number.
Ensure that each chapter starts on a new page.
Once you have gotten all of these down, it is time to look at how to format this manuscript so that it is ready to be published into a book for others to read.
Formatting Tips for a Book
Now, we will take a look at 5 steps on how to properly format your book.
1. Ensuring front and back matter are right
Front and back matter are important as they form the “skeleton” of your book; they are essentially the first and last sections of the book.
The front matter contains information about the author and publisher. The following are elements found in the front matter:
- Title page
- Copyright page
- Dedication page
- Table of contents
The back matter contains additional information of the story in the book, or at other times, has a short note of the author’s website or from the publisher themselves. The following are elements found in the back matter:
- About the author
- Copyright permissions
- Bibliography/reference list
Ensure that all the information in the front and back matter are accurate and are in the right sections.
2. Alignment and spaces
Usually, word processors on your computer will “justify” your texts, making them unsightly to your readers, especially since it becomes harder to read. This issue isn’t easily resolvable by simply making texts left-aligned as it will result in many empty uneven spaces at the end of each line.
To avoid this situation, it’s important to use a novel writing software since it helps you to format while you write.
3. Additional words/phrases
While writing, you might have paragraphs that finish on the next page, with only a couple of words, or you might end your paragraph with only a couple of words on the same page.
Both are scenarios you should try to avoid as readers will find it jarring or uncomfortable for the sentence to run off to the next page or find it undesirable to see so much negative space at the end of a paragraph.
4. Standard fonts
The font used for your book should not be too fancy and can be read easily by people so that it is comfortable as they flip through the pages.
5. Indentation for every new paragraph
Whenever you start a new paragraph, you should indent so that readers are aware that it is a different paragraph. However, you should refrain from using the Tab button on your keyboard, as used as you are to doing so because it will usually lead to too large indents.
This can be fixed by changing the settings on your word processor, or by using a novel writing software as it helps you to format everything neatly.
These 5 tips on how to properly format your book are essential should you wish to publish your book. Additionally, they can be easily achieved by using a novel writing software since it functions to help you make any necessary adjustments to your format.
Which Novel Writing Software?
If you are looking for a novel writing software that not only helps make writing less cumbersome, but also help you to format your book as you write, take a quick look at JotterPad!
One key function of JotterPad is that it supports Markdown, which is a lightweight markup language that allows you to write in plain text, and the app will convert it to formatted text. This is especially important because you won’t have to worry about how your texts will look like once it is exported as JotterPad will help you format it to follow industry standards.
Download JotterPad to help you throughout your writing journey, from the planning stage, to the publishing stage.