By Karen Saunders, © 2013

Do you know how to prepare a manuscript for your proofreader and/or book designer?

I strongly urge self-publishers to hire a professional editor and proofreader prior to delivering a manuscript to our designer for layout. Nevertheless our team sometimes receives partial manuscripts and manuscripts that have not been proofread or formatted properly for proofreading or design. As a result, it takes more time (and cost the client money) for us to get the manuscript in the proper format before we can begin to proofread or lay it out.

To save self-publishers time and money, I’ve prepared the following checklist:

  • Put the whole manuscript, including all front matter and back matter in chronological order in one MS Word document
  • Do not include your front and back cover copy in this document. Instead, create another MS Word document for the front cover, back cover, and inside flaps (if you have them)
  • Do NOT give us a PDF document of your manuscript, because we will have to convert it back into a MS Word document, and in doing so, it will lose formatting and introduce new errors. The conversion process is not precise and technical errors are common.
  • Use 12 point Times New Roman with double line spacing
  • Use left alignment
  • The first line in the first paragraph in each chapter, after a heading, or after each subheading should NOT be indented.
  • But please DO indent the first line of all remaining paragraphs, Please use the tab key, not the space bar.
  • Use ONE space after all sentences (not two spaces)
  • Do NOT insert an additional space between paragraphs, after headings or subheadings
  • Bold and italicize words you want highlighted in those styles
  • Use bold, initial caps for chapter titles, heads, and subheads, left aligned in 12 point Times New Roman. Do NOT use ALL CAPS. (The designer will make an appropriate change in the format style in the page layout document). If your manuscript has multiple levels of headings and subheadings, please create an outline with the designations: I, II, III, A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, a, b, c, etc., to designate each topic’s level in the hierarchy.
  • Eliminate all running heads, headers, and footers (text on the top and bottom of the page, above and below the main content)
  • You may have page numbers, but be aware these will change on the layout document
  • Bullet points and numbered lists should be formatted with hanging indents and a left margin of 0 .5 inches.
  • Indicate sidebars, call outs and boxed text with a dashed or dotted line prior to and after the text. Type the appropriate descriptive words (i.e.: SIDEBAR:, CALL OUT:, BOXED TEXT) in a separate paragraph prior to the text to indicate a change in formatting. Use 12 point Times New Roman. (The designer will make an appropriate change in the format style in the page layout document).
  • Every place where you want a photo, graphic, or illustration inserted should have a separate paragraph with the words formatted like the example shown below followed by the corresponding caption (if you have one). Use the exact filename for the image in the instructions so we can locate the image file by its name.
    << “Insert Photo (or graphic, illustration) 26.jpg here >> Caption follows . . .
  • Do NOT insert your photos, graphics, or illustrations into the MS Word document. Instead, include all the high-resolution files of the photos, graphics and illustrations in one of three folders, titled Photos, Graphics, or Illustrations. The designer will reference the filename you used in the manuscript to retrieve the proper file from the folder and insert it into the layout.
  • If you want to designate a mandatory page break, please add a new paragraph with the words “Insert a Page Break Here”
  • Be sure to include a table of contents page. Do not include page numbers on the table of contents because the page numbers will be different in the book layout.
  • Be sure to include the copyright page with the following information:
    • Your book title and subtitle at the top of the page
    • You may include your publishing company logo (this is NOT your printer)
    • Copyright © 2012 (or whatever the current year is at the time of publication), by your company name or your name depending on who the copyright owner is for your work. All rights reserved.
    • No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of your company name here.
    • Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted to the publisher at your company name and contact information here.
    • Cover credit
    • Book design credit
    • Editor credit
    • Author’s name, website, contact information
    • Printed in the United States of America (or wherever it was printed)
    • First Printing: month and year
    • ISBN-13 number
    • LCCN number
    • There is also often a disclaimer that the material in the book cannot substitute for professional advice; further, the author is not liable if the reader relied on the material and was financially damaged in some way, and if it is a biography, a statement about the recollection of stories shared are recalled to the best of the author’s knowledge, etc.

Shown below is the proper order of the front matter, according to the Chicago Manual of Style. You do not need ALL of these items, but whatever you do have needs to be in this order.

  • Book half title
  • Frontispiece or blank page
  • Title page
  • Copyright page
  • Dedication
  • Epigraph
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Tables
  • Foreword (Notice how this word is spelled)
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Text (Main body of manuscript)

Here is the proper order of the back matter, according to the Chicago Manual of Style: You do not need to have any of these items, but if you do, this is the proper order.

  • Acknowledgments (if not in front matter)
  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography or References
  • List of Contributors
  • Illustration credits if not in caption or elsewhere
  • Index
  • About the Author
  • Book Order Page

Owner, MacGraphic Services

Karen Saunders, owner of MacGraphics Services, and her team of award-winning designers help authors and small business owners design their books, build their brand, launch their website and market their business. Download your free Book Media Checklist and a free eCourse on How to Create a Best-selling Book Design from the Inside Out You can also contact her at 303-680-2330, or [email protected].