Please excuse any mess around here while blog is undergoing damage repair.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Perfectly Good Pair of Boots

Too bad they're covered in mud. No one will want them in this condition. Well, I take that back. My sons wear boots that look just like this every time they go to work on the farm with their dad, and they never complain. But cut me some slack. I'm trying to make a point here. A perfectly good manuscript might be overlooked if it is muddied by poor presentation. The problem is, there is so much conflicting information out there about proper manuscript formatting that it's hard to decipher exactly what 'proper' is. There are some things that remain constant, though. A manuscript should be double spaced. There should be a header with the working title and author's name (unless you are submitting for a contest). The pages should be numbered. There should be at least a one-inch margin on each side. And it should be typed in at least a 12 point font. Pretty straight forward, right? Not so fast. There are plenty of discrepancies, too, so I thought I'd start my discussions about contradicting information off with the topic of manuscript formatting. Because this post is already long enough, let's talk about page numbers today. It seems the issue that will require the least amount of discussion. Some say the page number should be at the top right corner of the manuscript in the header, while others say it's okay for it to be centered in the footer. One thing that's for certain, though, is that each page should be numbered. What do you think? Where should the page number go?

53 comments:

Tamika: said...

I like the page number at the bottom- footer. Mainly because it seems less intrusive.

Thanks for getting down to the bare bones of things for us Susan!

Matthew Delman said...

I prefer upper right corner along with my name and part of the working title -- that seems more professional to me because the right side of the page is where your eye tends to go first.

Natalie said...

I put mine in the bottom left footer. My agent sent it on just like that to editors so I think that probably works (whether or not it's the most correct way, I have no idea!)

Patti said...

I like the top right corner.

Beth said...

I'm with Matthew...keep it clean and tidy!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I have to look, but I THINK I put the page number on the upper right.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I have the page number in the upper right corner along with the name of the book. For me, it just seems like the easiest place to read the number as you flip through the pages. I have no idea if it's right or wrong.

Janna Qualman said...

What a great question! Mine go in the bottom-right corner, but that's just where Word automatically puts it for me, I think. Luckily, I think this is one of the things there's no "right way" for, as long as it's there.

Where do yours go?

I've had boots like that traipse through my house, too...

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Top right like Matthew w/ header as title, last name.

Sometimes my brain feels like those boots.
~ Wendy

Heather Sunseri said...

Mine are in the top right corner, but I always make sure I read contest rules and agent guidlines before I submit anything to make sure they don't say something different from that.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

I have seen submission guidelines that request different placements, I'd comply with whatever their preference is. Otherwise, I prefer top right. I think it's the overall standard??

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I've always put it in the upper right corner. Now you're making me wonder...

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I'm a top right corner girl. But I do check to make sure the agent/publisher doesn't have specific requirements. I submitted to one publisher a couple of weeks ago that required 1.5 spacing instead of double spacing, totally threw me off--the manuscript looked so strange that way.

Dara said...

Upper right corner. At least that's where I put it now. However I'd change it easy enough depending on submission guidelines.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I put mine on the bottom by default, but will change it to the top right when I clean up the formatting. I've been waiting to do that until the revisions are done since each chapter needs to start a new page. My Word program got all wonky with page breaks for a while so I'm scared to mess with it until the very end.

Valerie Geary said...

Unless stated otherwise, top right hand corner with my last name and title of book.

Tere Kirkland said...

I put everything in the top-right corner, but I do like to be sure that's what the agency wants before I send it off. Great post, Susan!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Mine go in the bottom center. That's one of those thinks I look for in the rules and if it's not listed, this is my default.

Rae said...

Great suggestions for blog post too. I wish some bloggers would learn to double space and spell correctly. It sure makes for an easier read.

Kaylie said...

I vote for wherever your agent or editor says. But it's good to pay attention to such things. Nothing like silly formatting mistakes to give your agent an excuse to reject you.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

I think it's a subjective, stylistic choice. Unless of course submission guidelines actually dicate its placement. Then you put it where you're told.

And I think that including your last name and a bit of the title is a good idea just in case a page goes floating off. Then they can easily put it back with the manuscript it belongs to. (Assuming they requested a hard copy instead of electronic.)

Paul Greci said...

I put mine in the upper right corner. That's the way my agent submitted it.

L. T. Host said...

I put my page number in the top right, name and working title top left. I feel like it's easier for the eye to skim over it there.

Anita Saxena said...

Writer's Market says upper left hand corner with your name dash page number (Anita Saxena-6). Personally, I think it's an eye sore up there. I think upper right hand corner or centered on the bottom look best.

Bane of Anubis said...

I put number at top right.

I also think, given the digital nature of the current world, we should go to single or 1.5 spacing.

Karin said...

I've always been an upper-righter, but I'm happy to change if any editor asks me to!

Carolyn V. said...

I agree with you on the page number and the cleaning of the ms.

Dominique said...

Years of formatting school assignments in MLA fashion might have warped my brain, but it seems to me that page numbers ought to go in the upper right hand corner by the name.

Julie Dao said...

I like the page number being on the upper right hand side, personally. I never double-space my writing *blush* I need to start taking some of these writing etiquette rules into account!

Lily Robinson said...

I've seen a couple of other posts on this topic recently. It seems the most popular opinion is the top right header. I will probably do mine that way unless someone specifies another. Thank goodness for computers! One click and you can have it anyway they want.

Lily Robinson said...

BTW... Half my shoes look like that!

Julie said...

I've actually been putting them on the top and the bottom both right side.

Veronica Barton-Dean said...

Alot of editors and agents have their own requirements when it comes to this as well. It's always a good thing to refer to their websites before submitting. Also the Writer's Market book always has good and accurate information.

Tara McClendon said...

I'm with the top right group. :]

Suzyhayze said...

Top right,

OR on my forehead... or

Wherever the heck they want it.

I'll put em in Arabic. Chinese. Roman. Whatever. Just tell me. I'll tattoo chapters all over myself. really. I. think. i've lost it susan. really.

Angie Muresan said...

I don't think I've ever considered where page numbers should be. I always place mine at the top.

Melanie's Randomness said...

hmm I'd say center on the bottom so it doesn't take away from the manuscript. Less is more!!

Jody Hedlund said...

The place of the page number won't make or break the agent's decision. For contests, the page number usually goes in the upper right corner. But I'd definitely search the guidelines carefully before submitting. It's all about being professional.

MG Higgins said...

I do upper right and it's comforting to see I'm not alone!

Terri Tiffany said...

I do upper right because I've seen it that way for contests. So I do it that way for all of them unless specified. It is nice to see what everyone else does!

Erica said...

I'm an upper righter too. Always had it that way :o)

Robyn Campbell said...

Susan, discrepancy? Why, it's the upper right today. Tomorrow it might be bottom. I'm all about Lovin' the agents and doing what they want. :)

I didn't even know this difference existed. I need to get out more, I know. :)

Tess said...

This is a great post because we sometimes need to go back and cover these super important basics. I always have my name/title in the upper left corner and page number in the upper right.

Tabitha Bird said...

the numbers go wherever the agent likes them. Otherwise what ever I like. I don't think there is a standard. I haven't read of one any way. Not for numbers. I put mine in the right hand corner. Don't know why. Just do.

staceyjwarner said...

I think bottom center but I'm probably wrong...format can keep a writer from writing, LOL!

much love

storyqueen said...

How do you paste sample pages in an e-mail and not have them look crappy...that's what I'm dealing with....

Shelley

Laura Martone said...

OMG, really?! I have to worry about this now, too?

I really didn't think it mattered where the page numbers went, as long as the pages are in fact numbered. As with Matt D., I prefer the numbers in the upper right corner.

(Thanks, by the way, for doing this for us!)

Glynis said...

Mine will be top right unless requested otherwise. Interesting post.

K.M. Weiland said...

My numbers go in the upper right. I think that's what's generally considered standard - although I agree with you that these discrepancies are enough to drive you nuts! However, I highly doubt any agent is going to reject you just because you put your page number in the left corner. ;)

Shelli said...

font size - 11 or 12. My agent liks Times new roman 11.

Weronika Janczuk said...

Ooh, I'm excited to see the rest of these posts, Susan. What a great topic!

Enjoy your weekend, hope all's well.

Amy Tate said...

You know what else is scary? My critique group emails our work to one another the Wed. before we meet on Saturday. When I saw their copy of my manuscript at our meeting, I was horrified! Word printed a funky version of my manuscript as an email attachment. The pages were all screwed up. I had just submitted this manuscript and worried that it came across to the editor in that funky format as well. Talk about correct formats, lol! I blew that out of the water!

Girl in My Own World said...

I always thought that it was the righ hand corner, but I could be wrong.