Manuscript Format: More than Margins and Double Spacing

Back in March I posted about how to format your manuscript correctly. I also shared a handout on manuscript format (scroll down my Freebies page to find it). After all, some things are just easier to understand when you can see them.

When you format your manuscript in Word, it is often more than just making your page look like the sample page. After all, you can use a superscript to make something that looks like a footnote but isn’t an actual footnote.

Use the actual Word functions and it will make layout and editing that much easier. Here are a few of the ones I most frequently see done incorrectly.


Below this explanation is a sample from my manuscript format handout. The top line of text containing the author name, abbreviated title, and page number is known as the header. To insert a header into your manuscript, click the “Insert” tab at the top left of your manuscript. Then glance across the ribbon that appears. Toward the right is a button labeled “Header.” Click on that and then choose the header you want to use. I tend to use the 3 column header that you see below. You’ll want to select the check box for “different first page” under “Options.”

Page Numbers

Correct manuscript format including page numbers. Look above and you’ll see the page number 2 in the sample header. That would be on the top right of the page. But don’t just key the number 2. Instead position the cursor where you want to insert page numbers. Then click the “Insert” tab and, on the ribbon, “Quick Parts” which is to the right. Scroll down the menu and select page numbers and then select the format that you want. It sounds like a lot but you should be able to follow these instructions.


Last but not least, be sure to use the footnote function vs inserting a number wherever you want to include a footnote and then type the footnote at the end of the document. See the sample above? When you use the footnote function, the footnotes appear below a graphic line and the lines moves as needed while maintaining correct page format. If you try to do it yourself, it won’t do that. So how do you do a footnote? Click the “Reference” tab and then choose “Footnotes” on the ribbon. It’s that easy!

Formatting a manuscript correctly seems tricky at first but you’ll develop the habits and learn where to find the various Word functions. And this will make your manuscript look professional.


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