How to prepare a manuscript for publication

How to prepare a manuscript for publication
Whether you’re submitting to a traditional or self-publisher, here are some general rules for preparing your book manuscript that will make you look like a professional look. An editor can quickly tell authors are rank amateurs by not following these rigid rules of styles. (There are literally thousands and thousands of these rules, but print this off and you’ll have a good cheat sheet to conquer the major issues.)

• Send manuscript as one file as a Microsoft Word attachment

• Use Times New Roman 12 point throughout. (And no colors, no wingdings, no boxes, or no shading. Multiple fonts and design elements scream “Amateur.”) Professional writers know the house’s designer will choose fonts and design elements.

• One space between sentences. Paragraph indentations should be .25 inch (You can setup your word processing program to do this automatically). Do not manually type in spaces or use tab key. Use NEW PAGE rather than spaces between chapters.

• Do not use CAPS or bold for emphasis. Use italics instead.

• Do not underline books, movies, magazine, TV show titles, ships names or foreign phrases. Use italics instead. (One quirk, the country of ship is not italicized: USS Arizona.)

• Do not use the “Auto Format” feature for numbers, bullets, or endnotes (“footnotes” at end of chapter rather than at bottom of page). These make editing difficult and are sometimes lost in converting the manuscript into typesetting programs. Manually type in endnote numbers in text and endnote copy at the end of chapters.

• If you are using interior photos or graphics, do not include them in text. Simply put a note within the text to our designer describing the photo at the general location it should appear. Separately email high-resolution photos and graphics.

The Chicago Manual of Style stipulates using a serial comma: that extra comma in lists of three of more items (example: Peter, James, and John). The serial comma is not used in magazine or website. These use The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual as their guide.

• Heads within chapter should be centered in bold such as


First level subhead
    First level subheads should be bold and flush left (no indent). Copy is indented. One space between previous text and subhead.
 & nbsp; Second level subheads These are within first level subheads and are bold and indented. No spaces before or after.

• Use this order in arranging your book (as per Chicago Manual of Style).

      Title page

      Copyright notice page (Publisher will provide ISBN and other information for this page) Do include which Scripture version(s) you have used with the copyright information for the publisher’s website.


      (Table of) Contents

      Foreword (This is another writer’s endorsement of the book)

      Preface (Written by author, but is often not included if the introduction meets the need)

      Acknowledgements (If not part of the preface)

      Introduction (If not part of the text. Trend is to begin with Chapter 1 as many people skip Introduction)


      Appendix(es) (if needed)

      Notes (if needed)

      Glossary (if needed)

      Bibliography (if needed)

      (List of) contributors

      Index (if needed)

• The trend is not to capitalize pronouns for God. There is no capitalization in original Greek or in many modern translations. If you decide to capitalize pronouns, please be consistent. Bible is capped; biblical is not. Scripture used as a synonym for Bible is capped; scripture used as synonym for Bible verses is not.

• Put scripture references within text inside parentheses ( ) with the period after reference. However, end scripture with period and no parentheses in block quotes or epigrams.

“God is love” (1 John 4:8).

God is love.
1 John 4:8

Write out number at beginning of sentence.

First John tell us . . .

• For all other questions on grammar, word choice, and formatting, consult The Chicago Manual of Style. (It’s very expensive new, but you can find used copies on the Internet.) The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style is a cheaper, thinner alternative and answers most style questions especially on religious issues.

The closer you conform to the style norms, the more professional you’ll appear—and the less work for the editor! (And it’s all about keeping editors happy!)

Copyright — 2000 James N. Watkins, editor with EA Books.