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Gaining the Edge: Manuscript Helps, Part I

2015 January 5
by Fay Lamb

Vintage blank paper scroll isolated on white background with copy spaceRecently, the Tactical Editor ran a week’s worth of posts to help authors format their manuscripts, but when asked about helpful posts, an editor friend indicated that many authors do not use the automatic indent. Instead, they use a tab, or worse yet, they hit the space bar to indicate an indention.

As an editor, I am used to working with my document map on (even when I write). A document map shows an editor the spacing, tab marks, scene and page breaks, etc. What an editor wants to see for the first line of the paragraph is simply the indentation. This indicates that the author used the automatic indent.

To set the automatic indent in Word, an author can start on the first paragraph of the manuscript. On the Home ribbon there is an arrow at the bottom right of the paragraph box. Click on it. Under indentation, make sure that both boxes are set at zero. Under special, use the drop down box to click on First Line. Then make sure that it is set at 0.5″. This setting is primarily universal, and even if a publisher uses a smaller indent, it can easily be adjusted.

One reminder: if you have the automatic indent set, your chapter headings and scene breaks will center according to the indent. This is easily remedied by backspacing to the far edge and re-centering.

This week, I’ll share more manuscript helps to assist authors in presenting a manuscript that does not scream amateur.

Books Collage

Fay Lamb (The Tactical Editor)  is an author, editor, and writing coach.

Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Art of Characterization Cover FINAL FRONT (2)Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the newest A Dozen Apologies. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.


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