So there you are, staring at Microsoft Word (or Google Docs, but Microsoft Word is nice and you’re a professional, dammit!). It is time for you to start writing your new manuscript, or maybe copy and paste it in from whatever writing program you have been using. It’s time to start editing your work, or maybe share it with Alphas and Betas. Maybe it’s even time to send it to an editor!

And you have no idea how to format the document or how it is supposed to look.

And okay, maybe you’re the only one who’s going to be looking at it, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re using the “right font” or if you have the spacing perfect or anything else, but!

Again, you’re a professional, dammit! Let’s keep the chaos on lock for a hot minute, and turn the legibility and practicality up a notch!


Now, all jokes aside, it’s honestly your choice, but if you’re still reading this, you’re either unsure of what to include in the document when you send it out to others, or you are looking for a simple guide to follow. I am definitely a member of the latter crew – JUST TELL ME HOW TO DO IT, DAMMIT.

Don’t worry, mom is here now.

I’m not going to call it the “right way” and I’m not saying doing it another way is the “wrong way”. This is just MY WAY. 

I’m happy for it to be your way as well!

AND THEN, I’m going to show you how to establish it in Microsoft Word so that EVERY NEW DOCUMENT YOU CREATE HAS THE SAME FORMATTING. Yes, my little raccoon kits. No longer will you establish a formatting you love, only to have it be nowhere to be found when you open a new document. We’re updating the Style Gallery today!


Before we discuss the Style Formatting, however, we’re going to quickly run over the manuscript layout. 

Now, can you totally have the first page be Chapter 1, and there you go? Sure! Of course you can!

But you can also add in some extra pages, depending on who the manuscript is for, both for your benefit and for theirs.

So let’s break it down!

Title Page

The first page of your manuscript should be, well, your title page!

On this page is, of course, the title, the series information, your name, and what version of your manuscript this is. After I complete my manuscript and it says FINAL VERSION, I also like to include a note of when it was last updated, just in case I later catch something and want to verify that it’s all up to date.

Here is an example of your title page layout:

Hit enter a few times to create some space, and then, type in your information. The Title Style is used for the title, while everything else uses the Subtitle Style, save, I turn off All Caps for my editing notes. But, we’ll discuss the font formatting and style below.

Title, Subtitle (Series Title or Genre Notation), Author’s Name, Version Information (Rough Draft, Beta Copy, Final Version, etc). Quick, to the point, and everything I need at a glance.

Editing Notes Page

This page is a 100% OPTIONAL PAGE, and only for use when your manuscript is complete, published, and all of that. It’s a new thing I’ve started doing after I realized that I wasn’t keeping track of edits in my manuscript that I made after release, like typos, etc. Now, I can edit it in my formatter and in the word doc, and note on this page that the edit was submitted to KDP, etc. Otherwise, I will 100% be confused WHY my latest version was submitted to Amazon three months after release…

A simple header noting what the page is, followed by bullet points detailing what I edited, when I edited it, and whether or not the update as been submitted.


But I like it so I thought I would mention it.

Beta Information Page

This is another optional page, but is completely related to whether or not this version is being shared with your Beta readers. I don’t do this in every manuscript, but I do like to do it when I have new beta readers on the team who do not know me and how I like to work. It’s also a good place for quick notes for everyone to reference, just so they know what’s going on.

Things you can include is when you need the manuscript completed by, a note to glance at your blurb and the content warnings (noted below), whether or not you would like them to worry about things like grammar (I skip this if I have an editor. Read, babes. Don’t worry about the spelling error I’ll totally catch one day), or even special requests!

In particular, I ask they highlight and leave a comment on any sentences or sections they would have highlighted when reading the completed e-book. This makes for great marketing later down the road, particularly before release when you don’t have popular highlights available to you. Because, hey, if your betas loved that line, then most likely, your ideal readers will want to read your book because of it!

Blurb Page

While my blurb is most likely already locked in stone by the time someone else is reading my manuscript, it’s never a bad idea to have extra eyes on it. Whether it be your beta readers or your editor or just yourself, giving it another quick once-over to verify that what you have written matches what the blurb promises is never a bad idea. 

And it’s always nice to have it in your completed manuscript as well, just because!

Content Warnings Page

Last extra page to add right here! As I am editing and rereading my manuscript, AND while my betas read my work, we can all easily go back and double check that the content which requires a warning is all listed on the content warning page which will both be included in the finished book and on my website. It’s all listed in one location, no possible triggers or questionable content is missed, and you have the approval of other eyes on it.


And now, you can begin your manuscript, BUT BEFORE THAT! 

Rather than inserting a page break, you will instead be creating a new section. This is because of headers, which I will explain in more detail later.

To insert a new section, you go to Layout, select the drop down menu for Breaks, and under Section Breaks, click Next Page. This creates a new section in your manuscript, separate from your Introduction Pages. Again, will explain more later.

Font Styles and Formatting

Throughout your entire document, you should always go with Times New Roman Font. That is the standard, and it’s the standard for a reason. It’s a serif font that is standard in type printing, and is both easily legible and works across all platforms. If you want to go with something else, then go for it! But seriously, it’s the standard for a reason.

(I don’t care what you say, Microsoft Word. Stop trying to make me use Calibri. Yes, it’s cute, I guess, but I’m a serif girlie, and if I’m going to pick an alternative font, it’s going to be Georgia or Cambria, dammit.)


For your normal text throughout, you will want to go with 12-point font, double spaced with no additional space between paragraphs, and left side aligned with an indent (0.3 to 0.5 based on your preference) for the first line of each new paragraph, excluding the first paragraph of a chapter or after a scene split. This is a pretty standard rule, and you’ll see it across the board in most printed books as well.

A quick note – your heading numbers will vary based on your personal preference, but I’m going to note the heading number so it aligns with the images and the video below. By having these items set as heading numbers, this includes them in your navigation panel, which is very important when you’re trying to move around your manuscript quickly.

Chapter Titles are set as Heading 1. It is centered and in 14-point font. I personally like to have mine set to All Caps in the font window, so I don’t have to worry about it when I’m typing it out. Once again, it should be double spaced with no additional space between paragraphs.

Scene Splits are set as Heading 2. It is centered and in 14-point font. I also have them bolded, as it really makes them pop. I always use three asterisks, so I can also easily Ctrl-F when I copy each chapter into Atticus for formatting so I can replace it with the divider line.

POV Markers are set as Heading 3. It is centered and in 14-point font, and italicized. I don’t always do this, but it’s very nice to have already marked for quick notes when you have different chapter images for each POV character or when you are sending your document to audiobook narrators. 

The last three items are specialty items, but I’m going to include them here all the same.

For your Title, your font should be 20-point font and centered. Bolding or Capitalization is entirely up to you. I like to set the line spacing to 1.15, simply because the spacing is otherwise huge, and of course, with no additional space between paragraphs.

For your Subtitle, your font should be 14-point font and centered. I personally like to have All Caps for my subtitles, and set the line spacing to 1.5 with no additional space between paragraphs. 

And finally, your header. Before you even begin to insert your Header, make sure you are currently on your manuscript itself, and not on any of the previous sections’ pages. We selected Insert New Section for a reason! When you click Input and select Header, you’re going to also Deselect “Link to Previous”. From there, click the drop down for Page Numbers, and select Format Page Numbers. Change page numbering to Start at: 1, and there you go! What you have just done is change your header to only be visible on manuscript pages, and the page numbers will align with the pages in your book and not with the pages in the whole document.

For the header itself, you can get all sorts of funky with it, having your last name, the book title, and the page number, all spread across the top, but I like to go with my name and the page number. Short and Simple, and that way, I can easily see which page I am on in the manuscript itself.


Now, listen, I tried to type out this walk through with screenshots and the like, but honestly, it’s easier to see and explain with a video walkthrough. I kept it under five minutes, and this way you can see how I do it, but I’ll go ahead and show you exactly what you need to be clicking on the modify style page, which is Add to Styles Gallery, Automatically Update, and New Documents based on this template. This way, every time you create a new document – NOTE THAT I SAID NEW DOCUMENT – it will automatically be your chosen style.


And now, the video walkthrough!

Have fun making Microsoft Styles your bitch!

Google Docs Styles

Now, inevitably, I know someone is going to ask me about Google Docs, so I’ll go ahead and give you my hot tip here. There is no way to automatically make a new document have your font preferences, but what you can do is copy and paste a Style Guide, much like what I showed in the video and above, and go through and select Update “format style” to match. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is easier than going through and making all of the changes yourself.

But seriously, Microsoft Word. I fought it for ages myself, until the whole AI thing forced my hand, but using Word is a game changer, although there is a learning curve. The different review and view possibilities are amazing. Sure, I have my issues, but at least my words are safe from AI, at least for now.


I hope this was useful. I know that this blog post isn’t quite as in depth as my other posts, but it’s just as important, and I wanted to keep it to the facts and the how-tos. Either you needed this information or you didn’t, so we got right to work.

Seriously, though. I know we all like to joke about professionalism, but having your manuscript set up in a way that is easy to sort through, navigate, and read, is all very important when others are looking at your work. You want them to be able to have functionality, and not be distracted when they should be enjoying your latest work. 

Good luck with fighting Styles. I have absolutely zero regret about spending over an hour trying to figure out how to make it permanent. This is a lifetime change that I will never again have to battle, saving me countless hours in the future. It’s worth the time to do it once and do it right the first time around.

Good luck, my little raccoon kits! And now, back to writing!