Using The Ruler
There are many great sites out there giving hints on how to format your manuscript before submitting it. All you need do is Google them. I’m adding mine to the mix only because I’ve seen so many “don’ts” in some of the submissions we have received. So I feel it bears repeating some of the tips. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer. Today, I’m covering the ruler.
One of the most important things to do is to use your ruler to set your indentations on a new paragraph. Do NOT use the TAB key. Or space bar over. You want nice even indentations for each paragraph, but the way to do that is through your ruler at the top of the page. So do not tab or even space bar over. Ever.
It creates nightmares for your formatter down the line. Yes, I could get into whys and wherefores, but take my word for it…universal corrections don’t always work. I’ve had situations where the “fix” didn’t work and I had to literally go in and delete every tab or space bar indentation. Every. single. one. So make your formatter love you and get into the habit of using the ruler.
Before I write one word, I set up how I want my manuscript to look, including the ruler. That includes my styles, but I’ll discuss those another day.
I write in Word 2013. In the picture below, you will see that I’m on the VIEW tab. (You can click the picture for a larger version.) “Ruler” is checked as seen in the first red box. In the second red box, you can see there are two arrows. The bottom arrow is set at one inch by default at the end of the grey area. I’ve moved the top arrow 2.5 ticks from the left. You can also move it in 4 ticks for a half inch indentation. Since I format our books and use the 2.5 tick mark for all versions when we publish, I now write in that format. It saves me changing it later. But not everyone uses that, so the 4 tick / half inch indentation is totally acceptable.
Once you have set the ruler, you are good to go. It will automatically indent for you when you hit “enter” at the end of a paragraph. And it will be perfectly even throughout the document. That’s not something you get if you tab or space bar over, as you can often change how many tabs or spaces you used without realizing it, resulting in uneven indentations.
Just remember – the ruler is your friend!