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Achieving 250 Words / 25 Lines Per Page


Formatting Manuscripts

By Deanna Lilly

These are generic formatting options to achieve the basics.  Always check with the Editor/Publisher’s Tip Sheet for formatting options and the style they want.

General Typing

Remember do not put an extra line between paragraphs.  Hit the return. Indent the first sentence 5 spaces (use the Tab key).  If you manually add 5 spaces it makes it a nightmare for the publisher to convert you manuscript to their publishing format.  You don’t’ want them angry at you for not knowing the basics.

Fonts and Margins

In order to achieve the ideal format for novel submission, your must strive for 250 words per page, with margins at one inch all around (some editors want a left margin of one and one-half inch) using either Courier 12pt or Times New Roman 14pt fonts. Several editors have told me that Courier 12pt is easier to read. And, the last thing we want to do is give an editor a headache from eyestrain as he/she reads our manuscript. I am sure some of the following “tricks” can benefit even the seasoned writer.

You sit down at your computer, set your margins and begin counting lines. The tips of your fingers smudge your nice clean screen with the oozing chocolate you’ve just eaten as a source of inspiration. Unbelieving, you go to another page and count again only to discover a variance of 23 to 28 lines per page depending on the word processing program you use (MSWord). Don’t panic–there’s an easy solution to achieving exactly 25 lines per page.

Line Spacing

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click on HOME menu.  Select the small box in the lower right corner of the PARAGRAPH section.

Make sure you are on the INDENTS AND SPACING tab.

Go to the center section of the dialog box that says SPACING.

Find the little box that says LINE SPACING and click on the down arrow.

Click on EXACTLY and in the little box to the right change the 12pt to 24pt (you can double click on the number or drag select it or simply delete the number part. If you remove part of the “pt”–remove all of it), then type in the number 24. When you press enter or click on OK the “pt” will return. (Note: this number could vary depending on your printer’s internal setups.)

UNCHECK Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style.

click for larger view

Counting Lines250 words -04

For a quick and easy solution to the problem of counting lines, turn your line numbering on until you are ready to do the final print of the manuscript to send to the editor. (Turning off line numbering–you follow the same steps and remove the check mark, or deselect the option.)

Counting lines is especially helpful when using critique groups.  Use the Continuous options so each line has a unique number for easier reference with the groups.

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click LAYOUT in the menu bar.  Click on the small down arrow next to LINE NUMBERS.  Choose Continuous.

Windows and Orphans

250 words 03There is one more trick you want to make sure and do to insure you get 25 lines per page. You MUST turn off the widows and orphans lines. Widows and Orphans cause the paragraph to automatically move at least two lines to the next page to prevent a single line ending a paragraph on a page. Editors are not concerned about the single line; they want the 25 lines per page regardless of an orphan line.

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click HOME in the menu bar.

Click on the small bos in the rlower right corner of PARAGRAPH..

UNCHECK everything.   The Widow and Orphan option is the top box, but you do not want any of the options active for this type of manuscript typing.

Now your lines will end up exactly at 25 lines per page and your word count will average 250. Some pages will have fewer words, some a few more but that is acceptable. Good luck and good writing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Special Instructions for Harlequin/Silhouette submissions: The standard 1″ margin/250 wpp doesn’t work with the way H/S calculates words per page. To them, a page with one-inch margins all around averages up to 12 words per line, times 25 lines per page, is 300 wpp (no matter how much of the page is dialogue instead of narrative). If you are submitting to H/S, go with their word count formula and set both of your side margins to 1.25″ to get 10 words per line and thus, 250 wpp.  — Contributed by Shrley Jump

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