250 Words / 25 Lines

Formatting Manuscripts

Achieving 250 Words / 25 Lines Per Page

By Deanna Lilly

Remember do not put an extra line between paragraphs.  Indent the first sentence 5 spaces (use the Tab key).

Fonts and Margins

In order to achieve the ideal format for novel submission, your must strive for 250 words per page, with margins at one inch all around (some editors want a left margin of one and one-half inch) using either Courier 12pt or Times New Roman 14pt fonts. Several editors have told me that Courier 12pt is easier to read. And, the last thing we want to do is give an editor a headache from eyestrain as he/she reads our manuscript. I am sure some of the following “tricks” can benefit even the seasoned writer.

You sit down at your computer, set your margins and begin counting lines. The tips of your fingers smudge your nice clean screen with the oozing chocolate you’ve just eaten as a source of inspiration. Unbelieving, you go to another page and count again only to discover a variance of 23 to 28 lines per page depending on the word processing program you use (MSWord or WordPerfect). Don’t panic–there’s an easy solution to achieving exactly 25 lines per page.

Line Spacing

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click on FORMAT in the menu bar, trace down and select PARAGRAPH, make sure you are on the INDENTS AND SPACING tab and go to the center section of the dialog box that says SPACING. Find the little box that says LINE SPACING and click on the down arrow. Then, click on EXACTLY and in the little box to the right change the 12pt to 24pt (you can double click on the number or drag select it or simply delete the number part. If you remove part of the “pt”–remove all of it), then type in the number 24. When you press enter or click on OK the “pt” will return. (Note: this number could vary depending on your printer’s internal setups.)

SOLUTION – WordPerfect: Click on FORMAT in the menu bar, trace over and down to LINE then click on SPACING and change the 1.0 to 1.86 and that will guarantee you exactly 25 lines per page.

Counting Lines

For a quick and easy solution to the problem of counting lines, turn your line numbering on until you are ready to do the final print of the manuscript to send to the editor. (Turning off line numbering–you follow the same steps and remove the check mark, or deselect the option.)

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click FILE in the menu bar, trace down and click PAGE SETUP. In the dialog box, click on the LAYOUT TAB then click on the LINE NUMBER button in the lower left corner. In the next dialog box place a check, or click, in the ADD LINE NUMBER box. The default is to number the lines on each page from 1-25 (or more if your setups are off). You can change that option to sequentially number every line but it makes tracking on the page a little harder.

SOLUTION – WordPerfect: Click FORMAT in the menu bar, trace to and select LINE, then trace over and select LINE NUMBERING. In the dialog box select TURN LINE NUMBERING ON. You may want to adjust the position of the line number so that it is closer to the paragraph margin–the options is located in the center of the dialog box (POSITION FROM LEFT EDGE OF PAGE). Use the up arrow to reduce the distance from the margin edge.

Windows and Orphans

There is one more trick you want to make sure and do to insure you get 25 lines per page. You MUST turn off the widows and orphans lines. Widows and Orphans cause the paragraph to automatically move at least two lines to the next page to prevent a single line ending a paragraph on a page. Editors are not concerned about the single line; they want the 25 lines per page regardless of an orphan line.

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click FORMAT in the menu bar, trace down and click on PARAGRAPH. This time in the dialog box you want to click on the LINE AND PAGE BREAK tab. Deselect (remove) every check so that all boxes are empty. The Widow and Orphan option is the top box, but you do not want any of the options active for this type of manuscript typing.

SOLUTION – WordPerfect: Click FORMAT in the menu bar. Trace down and select KEEP TEXT TOGETHER then deselect (uncheck) all the remaining options in the following dialog box.

Now your lines will end up exactly at 25 lines per page and your word count will average 250. Some pages will have fewer words, some a few more but that is acceptable. Good luck and good writing.

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Special Instructions for Harlequin/Silhouette submissions: The standard 1″ margin/250 wpp doesn’t work with the way H/S calculates words per page. To them, a page with one-inch margins all around averages up to 12 words per line, times 25 lines per page, is 300 wpp (no matter how much of the page is dialogue instead of narrative). If you are submitting to H/S, go with their word count formula and set both of your side margins to 1.25″ to get 10 words per line and thus, 250 wpp.  — Contributed by Shrley Jump