Dec 6, 2010

Format Cat Speaks "Formatting the Novel"

I'm green with envy at Format Cat's knowledge
 You probably know how a page is supposed to look, but do you know how to tell MS Word how to create it? It's an art [or exercise in frustration] unto itself.

Since finishing prep work for my second novel, it was time to start the revision / writing. In my novice days, I wrote each chapter as a seperate document. Handy, but WRONG. So when I do revisions, I have to convert 60+ documents into one. Starting with novel#3, I'll do it right from the start. :D Maybe. Have I mentioned my rebellious nonconformist streak?

The title page is pretty easy - name, address, phone, e-mail, etc ... all goes at the upper left corner. Word count will go in the upper right corner. Halfway down the page, center the title of the novel in all caps. Under it, two spaces down, center 'by Your Pen Name'. Thus:


by M. Pax

Then formatting becomes frustrating. At least for me. Maybe by novel#10 it will be old hat. So far, no.

Hit ENTER after your name.  Then you'll want to go under INSERT and under BREAK select NEXT PAGE. Not 'page break'.

Now is the time for document formatting. Double spaced. I use 12 point Times New Roman, which is pretty standard. Under 'FORMAT' select 'lines & spacing' and click off window/orphan control. Click off other boxes there if they're on that affect page spacing / formatting.

Back in the document, there will be the margin bar at the top of the page. Move the top arrow in five spaces. This will give you an automatic indent every time you hit ENTER. Editors, agents and the like will love you for knowing this.

A few lines down from the top of that fresh page type - CHAPTER 1, then start typing away. If you have chapter titles, the formatting goes CHAPTER 1--CHAPTER TITLE [that's two hyphens between]

Almost done. We still need a header. On the first page of chapter 1, select 'VIEW' 'Header and Footer'. In the Header box type your last name / TITLE. Thus:  Pax / NOVEL#2  page number. This line should be over to the upper right hand side. Highlight the whole line then use 'Align Right' to format.

Page number will follow the title. This part can be tricky. As the software is counting your title page as one. First, 'unlink the header to previous' - the 4th icon in from the right hand side in the header toolbar. Then hit 'format page number' - the third icon in from the left on the header toolbar. Select 'Start At' and type in 1. Then place the cursor where you want the page number to appear [upper right] and hit the page number icon - first icon from the left hand side. It is important to do this on the first page of chapter 1 and not on the title page.

If you have a prologue, you will need to repeat the above process. Then you will begin numbering the prologue with i, ii, iii, etc ...

Although it then comes out looking correct, MS Word does not seem to understand page 1. When I print, it will print from the title page if I specify 'page 1'. Hmmm. Oh well. Not a problem once I move on from page one. I put my papers in a recyle bin and use the backs to write out grocery lists. So, it does not go to waste.

For additional help, type in page numbering or section break in microsoft help. Which is what I always end up doing when starting a new novel. It's easy to forget how to do it. Now I can look up this blog article. Which is why I wrote it. No, I mean, I wrote it to help you. :D

Yes, this means I've actually begun the rewrite of novel#2. Woot! How about you? Where you at on your current project[s]?