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How to Prepare Your Manuscript for Publishing

Great work. You’ve written your manuscript and now you’re ready to publish! But what do you have to do to prepare your manuscript for a publisher?

Many publishing houses have certain requirements for manuscripts coming in, and it’s good to find out the style for the publisher you’re working with. Oftentimes, they’ll have these manuscript requirements written on their submissions page, but if not, a quick email to them asking what it is and we’re sure they’ll be over the moon that you’re thinking ahead about that part of the process.

For us, it’s easy to prepare your manuscript for publishing with ORP. Whether you’re going to be working with the editors or going straight to format, this blog will help you prepare your manuscript with everything it needs for the publishing team.


Most publishers work with Word documents for publishing, so make sure your manuscript is in an easy-to-read Word doc format, which will allow them to take it from here for you and get your book through the publishing stages.

If you only have a PDF, you’ll have to ‘export’ to Word doc, which can make it look a little odd, but the steps below to prepare your manuscript for publishing should be able to help you fix it up from there.


Some authors like to format their manuscript all pretty like it might be in the book, but don’t worry about this. This actually makes it harder for editors and publishers to work with your manuscript, and they’ll do this with you after the editing stage in their pro formatting and design software. So, for now, don’t worry about making it pretty and instead make it as easy to read as possible so your publishing team can do their best work on your text.

This is what the ORP editing team likes their manuscripts to be set up as before they come in. Go through and make sure you have most of these covered. Some might not apply to your manuscript (e.g. you might not have references), and that’s okay. Just do what applies to yours:

  • Main text to be: size 12 calibri or cambria font.

  • Paragraph spacing to be set to 1.5.

  • Headers and subheaders put in with Word doc styles (we’ll cover this in the next section so scroll down a bit if you need help here).

  • If you have references, pop in your citations with either footnotes or endnotes. Endnotes are often better as you’ll just have one list at the end of your manuscript, but you can choose whichever you like best (I found this video really helpful on how to add these).

  • Remove any images (but keep a one liner in their location saying ‘image X to be put here in formatting stage’ and keep the caption in there (highlight red) if you use images. Send the images separately in jpg or png files to your publisher so they have high quality ones to add in individually. (You can use WeTransfer to send them all in one go in one handy package rather than lots of little emails!)

  • Box-outs: if you’d like box-outs, please take these out of a box and just highlight them a different colour and leave a comment for the editor to let them know what it needs to be. Actual boxes can be hard to edit, but the design team can add these back in for you.

  • Bullet point lists: We recommend editing them to keep them as short and succinct as possible. If a bullet point goes over just 2 or 3 lines, try changing them to headers and paras for the best reading experience for your audience.

  • Image copyright/permissions: if you are using images that are taken by you, do you have written permission from anybody else in the pictures to be able to use them in the book? Please send evidence of this written permission to your coordinator.

  • Image copyright/permissions: if you are using images that are not taken by you, do you have written permission from the owner of the original image to be able to use them in the book? Please send evidence of this written permission to your coordinator. There here to help protect your creative rights.


This bit can be quite challenging for first-time authors to set up, so here’s a quick tip on these and making it easy. Setting up your Word doc styles for headers and subheaders for your manuscript will help the editing team to identify new chapters and also subheadings and any levels below that when editing. Here’s how you can set them up quickly and easily with pro styles.

When you open your Word doc, you’ll have it automatically set to the ‘Home’ tab at the top. This is where you want to be. If you’re not in ‘Home’, click on this button.

From here, highlight the section of text you want to be a title or heading. E.g. I will start with my book title. I highlighted the book title and then looked for the ‘Styles’ function in the home bar. Can you see where the yellow circle is on this screenshot? If I click here, it will automatically set my book title up in the ‘Title’ style, and it will look like this:

Next, I want to change my chapter headings the same way, so I’m going to highlight my chapter title and go to the same ‘Styles’ place, this time clicking ‘Heading 1’.

At ORP, we like to set all chapter titles as Heading 1. It will look like this.

If you have subheadings inside your chapters, you can highlight all your main subheadings and click on ‘Heading 2’ so it will look like this:

And then if you have sub-sub headers (and even smaller level ones from there), you can click on ‘Heading 3’ and then 4 and 5 and it will set those automatically for you too.

Now you’ve got all your headers set up easily and ready to go.


Got any questions about how to prepare your manuscript for publishing? Feel free to comment or reach out to the ORP team with your questions and we’ll happily help you get your book ready to go.


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