fiction editing · Uncategorized

Formatting your manuscript made easy: some great tips on using Word styles

In my work as a freelance fiction editor for self-publishing authors, and as a reader for the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme, I sometimes receive manuscripts that aren’t as professionally formatted as they could be. (This is understandable, as no one knows there’s a ‘best way to format a manuscript’ until they’re told!)

Image by John Conde from Pixabay

As part of my edit, I sometimes reformat the manuscripts I’ve been sent, or at the very least let writers know, in my style sheet, how to lay out a manuscript so that it looks professional.

I’ve been following the Libertà blog for a while now. This blog is run by four RNA authors: Joanna Maitland, Sophie Weston, Liz Fielding and Sarah Mallory (aka Melinda Hammond, my friend and fellow author in the Miss Moonshine anthologies).

(And by the way, I once won, through this blog, all four of Joanna Maitland’s Regency romances in her Aikenhead Honours series, which are beautifully researched and a delight to read!)

Last week Joanna Maitland published a useful and easy-to-follow post on how to format a manuscript the simple way. I found it so useful, and the tips so relevant to my own advice as a fiction editor, that I’m reblogging it here. With many thanks to Joanna – and I hope you find her article as useful as I did!


Writing your Manuscript using Word Styles: The Easy Way

by Joanna Maitland

This blog is long—sorry—because I’m trying to explain every step of what you need to do. But it won’t take long to do it, and you only have to set up these Word styles once, so it’s no great chore. In fact, it’s an investment. Once you’ve created them, you can keep using them in every story you write…

…To carry on reading Joanna’s tips, please click here


I hope you find the link to the formatting article useful. It’s well worth making an effort to learn about Word styles. Once you’ve mastered them, your manuscripts will look much more professional and you’ll be able to format much quicker. Thanks to Joanna Maitland for setting this out so clearly.

2 thoughts on “Formatting your manuscript made easy: some great tips on using Word styles

  1. My stars and garters, Helena. This was so helpful. Every time I open a document, I’ve had to change the font and size. And get rid of that stupid Widows thingy. This is fantastic. I think I was able to get through all of it. The last box to save forever, flashed by just for a moment to fast for me to click. But when I opened a new document the font and size had changed. I’m hoping all the others did, too. This will save me sooooo much time. I’ve shared. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so great it’s been useful, Marsha! It took me a while to get to grips with Word styles, but now I find them such a time-saver. I hope they work for you, too. Thanks so much for your comment, and for sharing!


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