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A Guide to Manuscript Writing

For the writer who wishes to have his or her work published, making sure the submitted manuscript is formatted correctly is as important as completing the work. A poorly - or wrongly - submitted manuscript will not even be considered, and all the hard work wasted as a result, hence understanding the requirements for submission and formatting is absolutely essential.

There are standard rules for formatting an acceptable manuscript, but the first thing you must do before submitting is make sure that you follow any particular rules outlined by those you are submitting to. They may have particular requirements with regard to fonts, paper sizes and even the type of envelope you use, and they will certainly have strict address guidelines, so take these on board and make sure you have covered them all before submitting your work.

Meanwhile, follow the basic rules of manuscript submission outlined below:

Make sure you use double spacing throughout your manuscript to enable efficient editing. This is a universal rule that is unlikely to be omitted by anyone.

When writing numbers in your manuscript use words - this is a general rule that applies as it makes recognition easier.

Avoid italics in the manuscript - underline any script that is meant to be italicised in the final version.

Use words for certain things usually depicted by a sign - 'percent', 'pounds', 'dollars' and so on - again this is for added clarity.

Use standard one inch margins on every page for the same reason.

Use only one side of each sheet of paper.

The above points are all to do with clarity and ease of reading, and this is why adherence to these rules is absolutely essential. If a publisher or agent - or other body the manuscript is submitted to - finds the manuscript hard to reads it will be discarded; to have your masterpiece overlooked thanks to a few simple mistakes in presentation is a waste of all the hard work and effort that you have put into it.

The rules are to keep to the basics above, and to enquire with the recipient as to the requirements that they may have with regard to submitting manuscripts. Follow these rules and you stand a better chance of being read, and possibly accepted.

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