Preparing text

Here’s how to prepare and package your manuscript files for online submission.

What to include in your manuscript submission

  • Title page—Title of the work, subtitle if any, author’s name
  • Optional front matter—other works by author, dedication, acknowledgements, foreword, preface, introduction, table of contents, etc.
  • Optional back matter—afterword, appendices, notes, bibliography, resources, recommended reading, glossary, index, etc.
  • Do not place/insert/embed graphics in your text files. Instead, mark where the graphic should be inserted. For example, the file abc.tif can be marked this way: [insert abc.tif here].
  • Your text, titles, front and back matter may all be included in one document.
  • Or—Upload a single Zip file of all your text documents, if you have separate files for each chapter or other element.
  • Upload MS Word (.doc), Rich Text Format (.rtf) or plain text (.txt) documents. Be sure they are not read-only files.
  • Do not email your manuscript to us! It must be uploaded during the online sign-up process.
  • Upload all text and graphics files at the same time, through the online sign-up form. If all your files are not ready, please wait to place your order until all elements of your book are complete.

Manuscript formatting

Rely on the KISS principle when formatting your manuscript—keep it simple. The goal here is easily readable text, where your intentions for your work come through clearly. Use the formatting you need, but don’t worry a lot about appearance. That’s our job. But a cleaner manuscript makes life easier for everyone. So here are some things to keep in mind.

Typefaces, style sheets and consistency

  • The typeface, font size and spacing in your manuscript submission do not affect the final appearance of your book. Your text will be formatted with custom typefaces and layout to complement your content.
  • You can use any typeface you wish, but sticking to just one or two will be easier for you and will smooth the transition to our formatting styles.
  • Be consistent in your use of style sheets in your word processing program. Be sure that all body text uses the same style, whether it’s “Normal” or one you’ve defined. Use the same header style for all chapter titles, the same subhead styles for all subheads, and so on. In general, define new styles only if you really need to. Fewer styles, used consistently, will give the best results.
  • Make sure all chapter headings or other sequential naming conventions follow the same pattern. If you capitalize a chapter, make sure you capitalize all of them. Whether you use roman numerals, numbers or titles, use a consistent method throughout the manuscript.
  • Notes may be formatted as footnotes or endnotes. Just be sure to stick with one type throughout your manuscript. Endnotes may be placed at the end of each chapter or all together at the end of the manuscript.

Text formatting

Before you submit your manuscript, please check the items below. You can see the formatting characters by turning on the Show Paragraph option in MS Word. In other programs, it may be called Show Invisibles, Non-Printing Characters or something similar. You’ll be able to see spaces, tab characters, returns and new line characters, page breaks and more.

  • Left justify or full justify all body text consistently throughout your document. If quotations or poetry are inserted, make sure that the method used (such as indents or centering) is the same for all insertions.
  • Do not center by eye, using tabs and/or space bar. Use the centering tool in your word processing program.
  • Do not use the tab key or spaces to indent the first line of paragraphs. Use the margin/indent settings of your program instead.
  • Do not use unnecessary returns or line-breaks. Press the Enter or Return key only at the end of paragraphs or individual lines of a poem. Line endings will change when we re-flow your text, so don’t force new lines.
  • Do not use the Return or Enter key to space text vertically on a page or to indicate a new page. Instead, to indicate a new page, use the page break mark (Shift-Enter in MS Word) or section mark (Control-Enter, Command-Enter on Macintosh).
  • Do not use two spaces between sentences.
  • Do use “typographers’ quotes” if your program has this option.
  • Use bold and/or italic for emphasis. Don’t use ALL CAPS. It’s harder to read and looks less professional. Use underlines only to indicate hyperlinks, not italics.
  • If you wish to have a space within a chapter to indicate a change in speaker, time, location, situation, etc., please make this break clearly recognizable. A good way to do it is to enter Return to end your paragraph, type three asterisks (*) or similar indicator on the new line, enter Return again, and begin your new paragraph. Whatever your method, use it consistently for every break.

Spelling and proofreading

  • Be sure your text is as clean and correct as you can make it. Catching typos before submission can save you money. Making extensive editorial corrections during the proofing process may incur additional fees.
  • Run spell check and grammar check if you have it.
  • Proofread again after you spell check! Let the text get “cold”—don’t even look at it for a few days, and then read again. You’ll see it with fresher eyes, and you may be surprised how many new edits you’ll make.