FORMATTING A CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT
Unless you decide to self-
1. Your Contact Information
The first step when you prepare your new manuscript is to put your contact information on it. That information should include:
First and Last Name
This information goes on the title page of your Word document, although some submission requirements may state differently. Always ensure you double check the specific submission guidelines before sending your manuscript off. We suggest you keep the details single-
Note: For email submissions and first pages, this information won’t be included, unless of course, you are submitting to an agent or an editor and are attaching a copy of your manuscript.
2. Your Target Reader & Word Count
If formatting a children’s manuscript, in the upper, right-
It is probably preferable to give an approximate word count on larger manuscripts, although you should list the exact word count in picture books. If you’re writing a chapter book, middle-
Note: This information will be left off when you copy and paste your manuscript into the body of an email for submission. If you keep it in, it will mess up your formatting.
3. Your Title and Written By
Halfway down the first page of your manuscript you should include the title, the word ‘by’ and then your name, to show who the author is. The title should always be in full capitals when formatting your manuscript while the written word ‘by’ can be standard lowercase. And the name of the author is again in full capitals.
Picking a title can be one of the hardest things to do, but here are a couple of tips you should try to focus on when choosing yours:
Is it related to your story?
Does it make the reader curious?
Is it enticing?
Hopefully this will help you get past the submission process. Although, if accepted, don’t be surprised if the editor wants to change it later!
4. Name, Title, & Page Number in the Header
There is some disagreement over how to complete your header when formatting a children’s manuscript. Or any manuscript for that fact. Always, always check the submission guidelines. Generally the header should include your last name, the title of the book, and the page number. It should also be aligned to the right. Do not put numbers at the bottom of the page.
Note: You should keep this format for ALL submissions except where you copy and paste any manuscript into the body of an email. It will help make sure that your pages don’t get lost whenever someone prints out your story.
5A. Illustrator Notes (Picture Books Only)
For authors who are not creating the images for their books, when plotting your perfect picture book, you need to make Illustrator Notes, and, if relevant, page break notes. These will be aligned to the right side of the manuscript, under the line that you need the note for.
For example: If you are writing an illustration-
You cannot use words or phrases that people cannot picture, such as a charging herd of Womblezees from the planet Grud. It needs clarification.
The same also if you have an obscure character or introduction to the story. Let’s say your main character is Fred but he’s a cat the whole time, or if you are using a narrator’s voice but it’s an aunt talking to her niece.
Of course, if the book is accepted by the publisher there is no guarantee they will use your suggestions. Often publishers may want to, and probably will, use their own illustrator, creating images to suit they way they see them matching the story, not you. In this case you will have to bite the bullet and stay quiet, especially if you want that publishing contract.
5B. Chapter Breaks (For Longer Manuscripts Only)
When formatting a children’s manuscript which have a lot of chapters, don’t be tempted to include a table of contents. It’s not necessary. Remember, you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of an agent or editor. You don’t want to lose them by listing all your chapters up-
Those are the main elements when formatting a children’s book. Remember, be sure to include contact info, target reader, word count, header information, and title. And, if you have any references or an author’s note, add those at the end of the manuscript.
There are some industry standards you should note:
Use Times New Roman 12pt font, and double-
If you need help with any aspect of your writing then check out our website for details of the resources, workshops, podcasts and other services we offer all writers; or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will endeavour to assist you along your writing journey.
All the best with your formatting.
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