The book-publishing industry has standard guidelines for formatting proposals and manuscripts. If your submission isn’t formatted according to those guidelines, you’ll look less professional and more like an amateur. This could affect the chances of your submission being read or seriously considered.


If you’re sending a proposal, type “A Book Proposal” at the top of the first page.

One third of the way down the page, type the title of your book in ALL CAPS. If you have a subtitle, type that in Initial Caps on the next line. Two lines down from that, type “By” followed by your name (or your pen name, if you wish to use one). This should all be centered.

At the bottom of the page, type your real name (not your pen name). On the next line, type your mailing address; on the third line, your city, state, and zip code. On the fourth line, type your phone number (with area code). On the fifth line, you may type your e-mail address and/or website URL.

Do not use the copyright symbol and year. Your work is protected by law from plagiarism regardless of whether you officially copyright it, and professional writers know this. So putting the symbol on your work brands you as an amateur. Reputable publishers wouldn’t dream of ripping off an author’s work, so it’s a bit insulting to suggest that you fear this.


Using the automatic header feature, on every page except the Title Page, flush left, type your last name, a slash, and your title (abbreviated if it’s long). In the upper right corner, type the running page number.


Follow these standard guidelines:

  • Use 1- to 1-1/2-inch margins.

  • Double-space all text. Indent new paragraphs using 1/2-inch tab. Do not leave extra space between paragraphs. Take out any automatic paragraph spacing your word processing program may have.

  • Use Times New Roman, 12-point font. Do not use ALL CAPS, bold, or underlines for emphasis. If you must emphasize something, italicize it. But use italics for emphasis sparingly.

  • Use one space between sentences, not two.

  • Never bind your pages in any way.

  • Use spell check, but also proofread your manuscript very carefully for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, etc.

  • Use left alignment, not full or centered. (Leave right margin “ragged.”) Block-indent (add an additional half inch to the left margin) quotations more than four lines long.


Start each chapter on a new page. About one third of the way down the page, type Chapter One (Two, Three, etc.), then chapter title (if applicable), both centered. Two double-spaced lines down and start text (indented and left aligned).