Ask writers in a community or forum how to format your manuscript for submission to publishers and literary agents and you’re likely to get a variety of answers:
Typeface: You must use Courier font! vs. You have to use Times New Roman.
Margins: 1″ margins are required! vs. 1 1/2″ margins are what publishers want.
Line Spacing: Double space! vs. Single space.
File Format: Use Word! vs. Save it in .txt format.
Which answers are correct? What do publishers and agents really want in terms of formatting when it comes to manuscript submissions?
The real answer is that it doesn’t matter. That’s because if your book is great, a publisher or agent will want it no matter how you format your manuscript.
However, publishers and agents are used to receiving manuscripts in:
- Microsoft Word format
- 12″ Times New Roman font
- 1″ margins
Be sure to include a cover page with your suggested book title centered in the middle of the page and your byline as well as your contact information in the lower right corner. Finally, include a header on every page with your suggested title and byline as well as a footer with page numbers.
Sure, publishers are also comfortable with Courier font and slightly different title page, header and footer formatting, but if you go with the suggestions in the above paragraph, you should be safe to submit to any publisher or agent.
Now for the but.
But you should always double-check the agent or publisher’s website (or the most recent version of Writer’s Market) to ensure they don’t have specific manuscript formatting requirements. If an agent or publisher takes the time to publish formatting requirements, you should definitely follow them.