10 Tips for Formatting Your Manuscript for Publication

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Writing a manuscript for publication can be a daunting task. You want to make sure that your work is up to the standards of the industry, and that means formatting it properly. Here are 10 tips to help you format your manuscript for publication so that it looks professional and polished.


Here is a breakdown of the various steps to formatting your manuscript.

Understanding Formatting Basics

Page Formatting

Setting up the pages and the text tutorial (Click Here)

Before starting to format your page layout, it’s important to consider the type of book you are writing and the size of its final page dimensions, as these will determine how your page will look. All books should include a table of contents—at the very least occasionally a table of contents is necessary for non-fiction works. When formatting your table of contents, it’s important to consider how many chapters the book will have, make sure the page numbers align properly, and the table of contents should be set apart from the rest of the document with appropriate spacing. Once these considerations are addressed, you can move forward to formatting individual pages, including margins, font style, size, and line spacing. Learning how to format a book manuscript correctly will give your work a professional look and ensure that your writing is properly presented.

Once you have this information, you can begin to optimize your page layout for a professional-looking book with the help of a program like Adobe InDesign, or more basic programs like Microsoft Word or Open Office, which allow you to easily adjust text and graphics.

1-Fonts/Line Spacing

One of the first steps is to choose fonts that are appropriate for your book. Fonts should be professional-looking, easy to read and fit the tone of your book. Once fonts have been selected, you can begin to adjust the font size, leading spacing, and line spacing, as these three elements establish readability and page composition. Doing this will ensure a professional-looking book manuscript that is ready for publication.


Knowing how to format a book’s margins is key to maintaining consistency throughout, as it allows for all elements of the book, such as typeface, chapter headings, etc., to remain uniform in order to communicate the author’s vision effectively. Margins should be set between .7 inches and 1 inch around the document. This is to ensure that the text stays within the margins, making it easier to read and understand. Furthermore, it is important to make sure that the left and right margins are the same, and that the top and bottom margins are the same. This helps the reader maintain a consistent experience when reading from page to page and allows for a pleasant flow. Additionally, margins should be consistent throughout the entire manuscript, including any images or diagrams added. In conclusion, margins are an important part of formatting a book manuscript as they provide consistency and structure for the overall book.


Manuscript justification types refer to the alignment and formatting of text on a page. The four most common types are left-justified, center-justified, right-justified, and full-justified. Left-justified, also known as “flush left” or “ragged right,” is when the text is aligned along the left margin, with the right margin appearing jagged or uneven. Center-justified, also known as “centered” is when the text is aligned in the middle of the page, with equal margins on both sides. Right-justified, also known as “flush right” or “ragged left” is when the text is aligned along the right margin, with the left margin appearing jagged or uneven. Full-justified is when the left text aligns with the left margin and the right text aligns with the right margin, creating clean lines along both the left and right sides of the page. Each type has its own advantages and drawbacks and certain types may be more suitable for particular uses.

4-Headers and Footers

Setting up the Headers and Footers (Click Here)

The header of a manuscript can contain a title or brief description of the contents, the author’s name, and perhaps the page number. Often the book title is placed at the top of the odd pages, and the author’s name is placed at the top of the even pages. The text for both can be centered on the page, or placed at the outside edge of the page.

The footer of a manuscript can contain page numbers, the book title, the author’s name, and any copyright or other legal notices.

5-Images in your Manuscript

When formatting a book for print publication, it is important to follow the guidelines and specifications of the printer in order to ensure that the text, images, and other elements are positioned correctly on the page. The most important elements of image formatting for a book include resolution, color mode, size, printing bleed, and compression.

  • Resolution: Images should be high resolution, at least 300dpi (Dots per inch). The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image.
  • Color Mode: Images should be in CMYK, RGB, or Greyscale. Images in books meant to be printed in Black & White should contain only Greyscale images. RGB color mode is best suitable for screen displays, but not for print.
  • Size: Images should be sized to fit their designated space on the page. This includes taking into account any white space that may be needed around an image. Images can be placed in Text Boxes to incorporate the images with their captions more easily blending them with the text portion of the page.
  • Printing Bleed: Images may extend slightly beyond their designated area on the page in order to avoid any white edges or lines around the image. The bleed should typically be between 1/8th and 1/4th of an inch.
  • Compression: To reduce file size without compromising image quality, images should be compressed using a JPEG or TIFF format.


Pagination is one of the most important components of formatting a manuscript.  Pagination conventions vary between different countries and publishers, but typically there are standards that need to be met in order to achieve acceptable pagination. Pagination helps readers to easily navigate a book and find information quickly. By following pagination conventions and carefully formatting a book manuscript, authors can help ensure their work will have the best chance of furnishing the reader with a book that Is easy to read, and that will be accepted by publishers.

7-Creating a Table of Contents

Table of contents (TOC) formatting is an important part of creating a clear and organized flow throughout a manuscript. It helps the reader quickly scan through the document and locate specific topics and sections easily.
When formatting a TOC for a manuscript, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Consistent font: Use the same font or typeface throughout the entire table of contents, including any titles or subheadings.
  • Hierarchy: Make sure to distinguish between titles, headings, and subheadings by using different font types or sizes. Additionally, if you have multiple levels of headings or subheadings, be sure to indent each level accordingly.
  • Section numbers: Include page numbers next to each item in the table of contents so that readers can easily reference them when needed.
  • Label length: Keep labels short and concise, as long labels make it difficult to clearly view the entire TOC at a glance.
  • Update information: If you make changes to the manuscript after it has been printed, make sure to update the TOC accordingly. This will help ensure that all readers are referencing the latest version of the document.

Setting up the Table of Contents (Click Here)

8-Preparing for Printing and ebook Conversion

To ensure that the final product looks professional, authors should double-check that their manuscript meets all the formatting requirements of their chosen printer or eBook vendor before submitting it for printing or conversion. This will help to save time and money in the long run by avoiding unnecessary reprints or conversions. There are many rules that should be followed when creating an eBook version of a printed manuscript. Note that there are a number of different eBook types and that they each have some requirements that are different than their counterparts. For a free guide to properly format a manuscript for eBook submission, you can download the free formatting guide by Mark Coker here: Smashwords Style Guide

9-Use a Professional

       Not everyone has the experience with the various areas of formatting to perform the formatting tasks listed above. Hiring a professional formatter may involve an expense but after all of the work you’ve done creating your manuscript, it would be a shame to create a final version that is aesthetically unappealing.

Professionals that can perform many of the tasks listed in this article can be found at reasonable prices at Fiverr.com.

10-Hire An Editor

Not exactly a formatting suggestion, but just as important. Very few people have the knowledge or expertise to edit their own manuscripts. Also, editing your own manuscript can be problematic due to the fact that you’ve read and rewritten it many times before this point. Writer’s blindness often kicks in, making it impossible to see your manuscript with fresh eyes which allows you to see areas that need to be edited and how to edit them.


Following these 10 tips for formatting your manuscript for publication will help ensure that your work looks polished and professional. By taking the time to format your work correctly, you are one step closer to having your work accepted for publication. Make sure to double-check your work before submitting it, and if you have any questions or concerns, consult a professional editor or the publisher you are hoping to submit it to.


Formatting of a simple text-based print book–Complete File (Click Here)
Setting up the pages and the text (Click Here)
Setting up the Headers and Footers (Click Here)
Setting up the Table of Contents (Click Here)
Justifying the text (Click Here)