How to Format a Novel

Written by regina paul
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Even if you've only thought of writing a novel, I'll bet one of the things you've been worried about is formatting it. I know I was when I first started writing mine. The fact of the matter is that most publishers have their own rules for how they want their novel submissions formatted. So no matter what formatting you choose, you are most likely going to have to make some changes before you begin the submission process. That being said, this tutorial will show you how to format your novel in the format that is most commonly used. This formatting is also easy to make changes to if you need to later on.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Computer
  • Microsoft Word

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  1. 1

    Open your copy of Microsoft Word.

  2. 2

    Go to the File drop-down menu and select "New."

  3. 3

    Go the Edit drop-down menu and choose "Select All." You'll notice that there is a small black square at your top left side. This indicates you've selected the entire document.

  4. 4

    Go the Format drop-down menu and select "Paragraph."

  5. 5

    Select "Line Spacing" and change the line spacing to "Double." This will make your document double-spaced, which is what most publishers want.

  6. 6

    Go to the File drop-down menu and select "Page Setup." Change all the margins to 1 inch. Click "OK."

  7. 7

    Go to the Format drop-down menu and choose "Tabs". Make sure that your left tab is selected and that it has default tab stops of 0.5 inches, and that the Leader is selected as "None." Click "OK."

  8. 8

    Select the View drop-down menu and select "Header and Footer." This will open a box at the top of your page and a small Header and Footer menu on your page. Type the title of your novel, then in parenthesis put your last name. Put your cursor at the front of your novel's title and tab over until the end of the line is touching the right-hand side of the box. Click on "Close" on the Header and Footer menu. This will put your title and last name at the top of every page.

  9. 9

    Go to the Insert drop-down menu and select "Page Numbers." Choose the bottom of the page for "Position," the centre for "Alignment" and finally deselect "Show Number on First Page." Most of the time your first page is going to be a title page, and you don't want that numbered.

  10. 10

    You are now ready to begin typing your first novel!

Tips and warnings

  • Set up the formatting for your novel before you begin typing. This will make it easy for you when you print pages out to edit, as the double-spacing leaves room for you or others to make notes.
  • Choose a font and a font size that is easy to read. Most publishers prefer Times New Roman size 12 for their novels, although they will also usually accept Courier New as well.
  • Remember that all publishers have their own preferred formats for novels. Before you submit a novel to a publisher, read their submissions guidelines thoroughly and follow whatever formatting instructions are given.

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