Editing and formatting tips
Style guides and dictionaries
The Book Nanny uses the following Editing style guidelines: The Oxford Style Book (New Hart Rules) and the
Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. and 17th.
Dictionaries: Oxford Dictionaries / OED, Merriam-Webster and Macquarie.
I work with clients internationally and can use other style guides and dictionaries (such as Canadian
Oxford or American Heritage) if needed.
Editing with MS Word
Many traditional publishers and freelance editors edit manuscripts in MS Word prior to editing and
editing. So, whether you are going through a traditional or indie publishing career, as a professional
writer, you should familiarize yourself with MS Word and its functions as much as possible.
Track Changes and Comments
I use the comment function in the layout and copy line editing to comment on any issues that
appear in the manuscript or to explain the proposed changes and amendments to you.
I use the Tracks Change function in MS Word to mark all copyright amendments — each change can
be accepted or rejected once the copying has been completed and returned to you.
Structure and formatting
Whether you send a paper copy to the agent or a soft copy (of the Word) to your editor, the most
important thing is that your handwriting is easy to read and mark. Here are some common layout
and format settings that you can use to make your manuscript look professional for agency planning
/ submission purposes:
A4 paper size, photo
The default Margins MS Word default is OK
Double line spacing
Font Stick with standard fonts like Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman
Font size 12 pt.
Forgiveness Played right or forgivable — choose one and apply it consistently throughout your
Page Cutting Set your Word style to automatically add page breaks before a new chapter title
Page numbers Yes, please — in the title or footer
The title of the book is in the title
Spacing between sentences Only 1 space
Categories The first paragraph after the chapter title or paragraph division should be marked with a
Rotate all subsequent sections (my preference is 1.25 cm indents [0.5 inches])
There are no spaces between categories
Quote marks One quote or two quotes — both acceptable for fiction. Choose a style and keep it
consistent throughout the text
Nest-quoted quotes (quotes within quotes) —s opposed to the main quote style
Conversation New stage for each new speaker — remember to keep your conversation tags or
rhythms in conversation so that readers know which character is speaking.
Spelling and punctuation styles Select style / usage (British English, American English, Australian
English etc.) and apply it consistently throughout the manuscript.
Formatting and style does not
Do not use tabs or spaces to rearrange categories — sort them using styles instead
Do not add paragraph rewrites at the end of each line — Word automatically wraps text
Do not add two spaces between sentences — creating space problems in Word
Do not include multi-section returns to get to the next page — use page split or section division
function where necessary.
Do not mix spelling and symbol styles with usage — students may view them as errors instead of
Indie Authors / Publishers: You should set all your text settings using the MS Word style function —
this will help your editor and can save you money over time.
Do you submit to agents and writing competitions? Be sure to follow any instructions for formatting
the document carefully and thoroughly.
Tutorial – Track Changes, Comments, Word Styles and Conversation Format
Word 2016: Follow Changes and Comments by GCFLearnFree.org
Word 2016: Applying and Modifying Styles by GFCLearnFree.org
Charlotte Nash’s basic manuscript format and Word styles
Angela Spurlock’s writing and formatting dialogue (US punctuation, commonly used in British
Examining the evidence for self-defense
All professional editors aim to do the best work possible. However, even with the use of additional
testing software and macros, no editor or tester can guarantee 100% error-free work on any project
despite the best efforts of all parties, there may still be defects in the finished product. In order
to reduce the risk of errors, indie publishers should include and adjust a budget for several error
checks in their publishing system.
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