As we get more contracts from new authors I’m amazed at how many are not familiar with Microsoft Word. Our editors and myself realize not everyone knows it as well as some, but there are a few little things everyone needs to learn.
The biggest problem we see is that Word is not set up properly. When I first started writing, a friend told me how to do it, and I’ve done it that way for the past ten years or so. Computers have been developed in a way that you don’t have to enter for the next line to start. Keep typing until you end the paragraph. If you will hit enter at that time a paragraph will show up indented and ready to go. I learned to type on an old typewriter, before electric ones. You had to hit the little arm for it to go to the next line. With an electric typewriter, you hit enter. This is not so with a computer.
To set up your Word document, open it up. On the ribbon you will see “Home,” “Insert,” and several other tabs. Click on the Home tab. This will bring you a larger ribbon with a bunch of things in it. First is the font. We want Times New Roman, 12 pt. This is for all documents.
In the center of the ribbon there is a rectangle with several things in it. If you see paragraph on the bottom, at the right of the word “paragraph” is a little square in it with a dot in it. Click on the square. This will bring another drop down.
This is where you really set your program up. The first thing you see is “Alignment.” You should drop down and click on “left.” The one below it click on “Body Text.” Go to the left where it says, “Special” and click on “First Line” and beside it click on “0.5” to show how much you will indent. The go below this and click on “Double.” Below this is something that says, “Do not insert a space between paragraphs.” Click the little square on it. This allows your manuscript to go from paragraph to paragraph without adding a double space.
Go to the top of this drop down and hit the next tab. Click on “Widows and Orphans” and at the bottom of the page, click on “Default.” This will allow your program to always be the same when you open it.
If sometimes you want to do a single spaced document, go back in the same way we did before and instead of “double” click on “single.” That will give you a single spaced document one time, and then it goes back as before.
I hope this helps some of you with your manuscript. The only other thing to do is when you finish a chapter, go to “Insert” beside the “Home” tab and click on “Page Break.” This keeps your manuscript from being a continuous form, but allows your chapters to show up on a new page.
That’s all so easy when you start working on it.