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Page lay-outs
  • PAGE-LAYOUTS
    How many words per page are 'standard? I am doing 1,1,1,2 margins on desktop, using 10 western font, and 1.5 line spacing. But I'm getting 18+ words per line on printouts, whereas most books appear to be about 12-14. Page depth looks o.k. at 36 lines. I therefore suspect that my story so far of 40 pages, may actually be about 60 pages. If correct, it will run to about 100 pages when finished.
    John Cuttle
    (Cuttle will do just fine)
  • Or you could use a CreateSpace Word template. They have the margins set to accommodate the spine. Copy and paste your content and you're all set.

  • Thanks for the comments and links. Will look into all this. Probably change the font, for a start. Still thinking about whether to keep the 1.5 line spacing, or use double-spacing. The former looks fine to me but maybe not to an editor.
  • Is this for a submission? If so there will usually be guidelines stating any formatting requirements – and you really must follow these.
  • It won't be ready for submission for a while yet, but it will be in due course. From what you say, it sounds like there are many different requirements from different book publishers. Does that mean then, that it's better to send an initial enquiry asking what the formatting requirements are, before sending anything at all?

    I'd prefer to just send something out when I'm ready, and see whether they're interested in it first of all. They could always return it with information on their formatting requirements, couldn't they? And you might get an opinion of your work at the same time then.

  • "They could always return it with information on their formatting requirements, couldn't they?"

    No. You need to do your research first.

  • Cuttle said:

    Does that mean then, that it's better to send an initial enquiry asking what the formatting requirements are, before sending anything at all?



    No, it means you should read and follow their submission guidelines.

    Cuttle said:

    I'd prefer to just send something out when I'm ready, and see whether they're interested in it first of all. They could always return it with information on their formatting requirements, couldn't they? And you might get an opinion of your work at the same time then.



    They'll prefer you to send work which is submitted EXACTLY in accordance with their guidelines. If you don't do this they won't read it.
  • Cuttle said:

    I'd prefer to just send something out when I'm ready, and see whether they're interested in it first of all. They could always return it with information on their formatting requirements, couldn't they?



    *KNOCK KNOCK* "Hello, Mr Cuttle, your shopping delivery is here."

    "Brilliant, I'm bloody starving...wait a minute, none of this stuff is what I ordered."

    "Yeah, we took a guess at what you wanted, you can give me a list now and I'll go back to the store with it. Your actual shop, with the correct food, should be here next week."

    "But I'm absolutely starvi..."

    "Can I stop you there, Mr Cuttle? Could you fill out this 64-page form assessing our quality of driving, how I pulled up to your house, politeness, promptness of knocking..."


    You get the idea. Would you use them again if they did that?

    It's the same as any business that's going to get a hell of a lot of applications. For example, we send out tenders at work and companies compete to win the work...if they can't even follow the simple instructions (A4 applications, bound, in envelope, include all prices, etc.) how can we trust them to put up a building, or construct a bridge safely and on time/budget?!

    Ignoring guidelines is saying you couldn't be bothered, or you were in too much of a rush to send your work...neither of which are things you want to advertise to someone who is going invest time and money into your work.

    Cuttle said:

    And you might get an opinion of your work at the same time then.



    You'll be extremely lucky to get feedback if you followed ALL the rules, never mind if you didn't! Hell, you're lucky to get a NO THANKS these days instead of just being ignored.
  • Cuttle, check the website of any publisher or agent to whom you plan to submit, and follow the instructions to the letter. Don't ever make the mistake of thinking you can by-pass them for your own convenience: it's theirs that's the important thing here.

    The same applies rigidly to competition entries: stick to the rules.

    You won't get a free appraisal from a publisher and they won't waste their time returning work to you that doesn't meet their spec.

  • Thanks for the comments (some informative, some hilarious). The list of do's and dont's is getting longer. The Shunn Manuscript info was handy. Will have a look at the Create Space Word template too. And start looking at publishers websites.
    Will no doubt be back in a while with yet more questions (and still haven't explored the rest of Writers Online discussions yet). Bye for now.
  • I'm back, Mrs. Bear.
    The fact is, boredrobots, some publishers give very detailed guidelines while others definitely don't. Baggy Books, you can't research what isn't there.
    Mrs Bear/Phots Moll, I found one which specified 3 chapters initially (fine) but nothing about page layouts. So I contacted them about it to ask (which is what I'd said I'd need to do, in earlier posts on here), and was given a free hand to present it how I like. No specifications.
    A different one was very specific (good) re margins, font, and line-spacing . Yet another one was 'Not taking submissions at the present time', which was quite useful as a time saver!
    Anyway, it's all progress of a kind. I've spent the last few days formatting everything I've done so far. Time to get back to writing.
  • Now, a very basic point of page layout I hope someone can help with:

    How do I insert page numbers? I don't see how the Windows XP operating system on my desktop computer can do it, because the numbering will always be outside the margins I've set for the text. Especially if I want the page numbers to be in the top right corner of the page. I thought about trying to put page numbers somewhere into the bottom wide margin, but that seems impossible too, because I'd have to change the margins to make it print, and then wordpad would immediately change the whole text and print it right up to that point instead of keeping it the way I need it to be. I don't see any way out of it, and I'm therefore stuck with un-numbered pages. Help!
  • You use a header or footer and then 'justify' it so it appears where you want it.
  • I don't understand how a header/footer works, so can't set it up, Phots Moll. I should also have mentioned that my machine in Word doesn't present in pages anyway. While it is on-screen it has always been one continuous text, and only becomes pages as I print out. Looks fine in printed pages with wide margins on A4, but no page-numbering (because that would be outside the margins I've set). Looks like I'll have to play around with a header/footer function on a small piece of text until I can fathom it out.
  • You can change it to show pages under View > Document Views, Cuttle :)

    Print layout shows it best.

    And Headers/Footers are normal text (or whatever you put in them) but "locked" from editing until you specifically click in them, that's all. Easy enough to set up if you have a bit of play until it clicks :)
  • Thanks for that. A bit lost at the moment as I can't even see a H/F function, only page alignments.
    PS. Just went into Font and finally sorted out the re-setting too, so that it doesn't keep on defaulting to a previous font all the time. So another nagging problem sorted out! Have to go out now, will be back later, no doubt.
  • I love getting Word set to a decent default...I'm aware that makes me sound like an Alpha Nerd :P
  • Depends which version you're using, but I think H/F are under Insert in newer versions, View in older versions.
  • General question.

    Won't page numbering be set by the publisher after using their own guidelines? Even if we set numbers, marginal margin changes (sorry!) or font change will throw pre-set numbers out the door.

    Most of us probably use page numbers only for our own reference.
  • But you're just sending it to be read by publishers, they need an easy way to reference things to you and others. Don't worry about editing on their behalf! :P It's a long way off and they've been doing it for years :)
  • This is why stuff like Shunn exists, it's clear, shows all the info, has reference points, easy to read, consistent - doesn't have to be like they're going to print it.

    On a sort of side note, I remember a good (oh crap...) 20 years ago (at least, yeesh) measuring the pages of a book and setting Word to be the same...trying to get the font the same, etc. Cringeworthy to look back on, but hey, I was still learning...and always will be! :D
  • PET - yes, eventually, but it will be read by a lot of people before then. Can you imagine getting a submission with no page numbers? There are so many ways pages would get mixed up and it would be really time consuming to sort it out.
  • All interesting comments there. I can see how it would make sense to have a page-numbering system for the submission. I'd have nightmares thinking about how the pages might get all mixed up. And you can't staple a great thick wodge of a manuscript.

    I cannot see the required buttons via either View or Insert, as there's nothing about H/F or page-numbering at all, which probably means I'm using too old a version of Microsoft Word.

    My wife came up with an idea that in these digital days we would call archaic: "Just pencil all the page numbers in the corner of the MS yourself." You can see why I love her to bits, can't you.
  • Word has always had header and footers, it'll be there somewhere :)

    Gimme a shout if you want a hand! :D
  • Main question:
    Am getting the hang of H/F and page-numbering, but should the title page be Page 1 or should the start of the text be Page 1? Microsoft Word seems to have decided it's the former.
    Secondly, do you think Chapters should always start on a new page, or can they be on the same page after a wider space and a roman numeral as I do it at present? (I don't use Chapter titles)

  • Subsequent to the above, got properly into formatting today and tried it out with the first 30 pages. Inadvertently put page numbers in the top left corner, but as it will be a submission copy anyway and has to be on one side of A4 only, that doesn't matter.
    Also the very wide margin all round and the double line spacing is resulting in 28 lines per page, less than I'd expect to see in a book. Again doesn't matter because anything accepted would be re-formatted later. Perhaps they want them like this for ease of reading? Good to make progress . Back to writing!
  • Yeah, it's for ease of reading and so they have enough room to make notes. Don't worry about it looking like a book. As for page numbers first page of mine is always 1 because that's where I start the story. Everywhere I've submitted has asked for Shunn format. Chapter wise just stick one empty line in then chapter heading. Because it's double spaced you don't need gaps between lines larger gaps between chapters.
  • Thanks for this, I will get round to looking at Shunn Manuscript as you mentioned before, especially if it's being widely used. This is such a handy forum. I never knew any of these things in the past.
  • It's all one huge learning curve :) Keep coming back, and join others! FB and Twitter have been lifesavers for me, teaching me so much and giving me plenty of opportunities to submit my work.
  • I've adopted the practice of using italics in different situations in my prose where others might use single or double speech marks. An example would be if, say, a character is reading something from a list, or my citing a message on a piece of paper. Does anyone else use this practice?
  • An interesting thread. Sorry for the interruption, but I'd like to know about this Shunn Manuscript.
    Is it software you can purchase?
  • If you google shunnmanuscript, C2, there is also free guidance with examples from MacGregor to help you with what are typical format requirements. boredrobots has experience of it, and told me about it.
    Thanked by 1C2
  • Cuttle, the most important thing is that the reader (whether agent, editor or purchaser of a self published book) can understand. If the context makes clear what the italics mean then you should be fine.

    However if you intend to submit the piece somewhere, it might be a good idea to follow the house style of your chosen market.
  • it might be a good idea to follow the house style of your chosen market.

    I take your point. It would be sensible to have a look in Waterstones at novels from publishers I want to know more about, and see how they are presented. I don't think there is uniformity though, even with one publisher. In my own home library, I have found many variations in the way text is presented. The more I look, of course, the more I wlll find out.
    Thanks for the response.
  • I have a better grasp of page lay-outs now, thanks to boredrobots, Phots Moll, et al. Page numbering still not completely mastered though, as microsoft word has a habit of making the title page, Page 1. My only way round that was to set it as number 0 , then tippex the nought out. I'll probably do the same when it comes to writing a synopsis page. Then the text of the novel will still begin on Page 1. Where there's a will, there's a way!
  • You can set the first page to have a different header and footer, so it won't count it when you add the number widget to the 'other' header/footer.

    When you tick the Different First Page box you edit that header/footer independently.
  • You can't tippex electronic submissions and quite a few places ask for these.
  • Comment as requested from 'Anyone Writing' thread.

    Hi, Cuttle. My 'pack' to Troubador, was the second of five crime/mystery novels to be published by the Matador imprint.

    Their requirements are not so different from most publishers. They might well be more relaxed, because I have published with Lulu and Amazon Direct, both of which have very stringent requirements. Troubador requires on Word doc or PDF, with the usual 1.5 line spacing, proper page and section breaks as appropriate between chapters/front/end matter and a concise rear cover blurb.

    As for the formatting, the usual tabulated paragraphs as set with auto tablature (via the paragraph ribbon, then Indents & Spacing, then Tabs menu.) As long as there are no what are known as 'hard returns' the MS will easily format to their Adobe publishing program. As for 'house style', Troubador follows the Oxford Style Manual (Hart's Rules is an invaluable guide) https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Harts-Rules-Handbook-Style-Writers-Editors-Reference/0198610416

    There are always small intricacies that differ between publishing houses. For instance, Troubador prefers no space before an elipsis follows a word… whereas some houses insist on a space …

    In general, it takes a few to and fros to learn the requirements of any working relationship. The good thing with Troubador is that they have the ability to bring a MS up to scratch with 'global changes'. I guess what you have to weigh up is whether you are prepared to make an investment in yourself, or whether you go a trial run with Amazon or Create Space first up.
    Regards
    P
    Thanked by 1Cuttle
  • "In general, it takes a few to and fros to learn the requirements of any working relationship. The good thing with Troubador is that they have the ability to bring a MS up to scratch with 'global changes'."

    Anyone can use global changes. It's useful AND dangerous.

    The important thing to remember is that the author is still responsible for proofing the content. I've yet to read one of their books and find it error-free.

    'Edinburgh, England' is one that still makes me chuckle. That was sent to me as an example of their quality. If you submit a manuscript with errors, you will have a book with errors - albeit beautifully produced.
  • Fair enough about the 'global changes', BB. My intent was to convey that there is some leeway with certain publishers that seem to not be available from the likes of Lulu and Amazon. Certainly, what we write is what we will receive, and I totally agree that many books (not only self-published) escape serious editorial scrutiny.

    My feelings are, and this is important for 'Cuttle', is that some writers are so impatient to be published that they compromise too much on editing - to the detriment of their work.

    By the way, when did England cede Edinburgh to Scotland?
    :D
    Thanked by 1Cuttle
  • Paige Elizabeth Turner, thanks for the information. I have sent for a copy of the Harts Rules Handbook Style Writers-Editors Guide, as Amazon had a used one available.
    One publisher I've thought about approaching is Canongate in Edinburgh, who seem to want three sample chapters only at first, plus synopsis. Another one I might approach is Pegasus publishers in Cambridge, and send them the whole MS.

    Formatting:- I've made quite a bit of progress in understanding typical formats now, and have noticed that, for example, if a printed MS is sent, then they usually have the author's name and story title in the Header on every page. A sample format was actually a subject in the Jan issue of WFmagazine. I also noticed word count is included lower down on a title page.
    There was also discussion about italics versus underlining, as preferences vary. I gather also that some publishers want paragraph indenting and others don't. I prefer indenting now, but have stopped doing extra spacing between paras, as I can see that isn't necessary. I'm also double-line spaced and Arial 10 font at present, which looks absolutely fine.
    I'm not sure what your phrase 'no hard return' means (about line-endings?)
    Regards,
    Cuttle.
  • Hi Cuttle, I'm fairly sure you'll find that there is an industry standard of 12-point font, especially for submissions. There is also an industry standard of indenting each paragraph (although the amount of indent varies). The first Paragraph of a new chapter will NOT be indented, and nor will the first paragraph of a new section, i.e. one separated by a line/space or asterisks. You are wise (and correct) to abandon spaces between paras.

    I did botch the piece about 'hard returns'. Hard for me to explain, but it refers to properly setting indents. I hope a more knowledgeable TBer might assist you. I think boredrobots is wise in this area.

    The whole exercise is a steep learning curve. All the best!
    Thanked by 1Cuttle
  • Just what I was going to say, Baggy.
  • Thanks for your replies.
    Baggy Books. Phew! Thank goodness I left a message on here. The Alert category! I did look at ALLI once before and hadn't realised they had the SPAC. Think I'll apply for Associate membership before doing anything [Yes, an "Ass" member would be about right for me at the moment, and "No, Pegasus, not just now"]. Narrow escape.

    I'm also getting on with revision run-through this week and it's going very well.
  • If you do join ALLi you will gain access to their excellent Facebook group. Post a query there about a 'publisher' and you will get lots of advice and support.


  • Hi Cuttle, I'm fairly sure you'll find that there is an industry standard of 12-point font, especially for submissions.

    The whole exercise is a steep learning curve. All the best!


    I think I will transfer the whole thing over to a CreateSpace template or Shunn Manuscript, as suggested by BB, BR some time ago. I'd better present it exactly the way CreateSpace/KPD require.
    Not done a precise word count yet on MS Word desktop, but it's in the region of 37,000-38,000.

  • Cuttle, one of the idiosyncracies of publishing is the difference between British and American. I remember BR's post about the Shunn template, but cannot recall how in-depth he recommended it. Perhaps one stand-out difference is that British publishers will generally publish 'single' quote marks, whereas the USA version is "double" quote marks. For the reader, of course, it makes little difference.

    I just offer this for your 'tool box'. And of course you are quite right if considering CreateSpace: simplify the whole process and adapt to their specifics.
  • Yes, I did know about the speech marks and have used single.

    On 12-point font, I will do that for CreateSpace if it is their standard.

    On italics v underlining, I recently worked through changing one or two emphasised words to U, but as there were so few, changed back to I again (which, incidentally, I use in a variety of situations).

    On line-spacing, I've become less keen on 1.5 and much prefer double spacing if it can be accepted.

    On page-numbering, I've seen top left/right mostly, and centre bottom in the footer with some novel publishers.
  • On 12-point font, I will do that for CreateSpace if it is their standard.

    What you upload is what is printed. CS don't have a standard font or font size. You need to decide what best suits your book.