For Absolute Beginners: Manuscript Preparation

by Renée Layberry

Manuscript preparation is more than typing into a word processor—it also includes formatting the document and preparing your photos and illustrations with an editor and graphic designer in mind. Considering the items below will go a long way towards a smoother manuscript submission process:

  1. Software: What word processing software are you using (e.g. Microsoft Word, OpenOffice)?
  2. Pages and paragraphs: Are you familiar with actions such as inserting page breaks, viewing/hiding hidden characters, and using hard returns to separate paragraphs?
  3. Photos: When you upload photos to your computer, what photo management software do you use (e.g. Microsoft Office Picture Manager, iPhoto)?
  4. Handling image files: Do you know how to check and adjust the the DPI of your photos?
  5.  File extensions: Are you familiar with names of file extensions (such as JPEG or TIFF)?
  6.  Attachments: Are you comfortable with uploading and downloading attachments?
  7.  File management: How easy is it for you to find items that you’ve downloaded? Are your files scattered all over your desktop? How do you name different versions of your manuscript?
  8. Technical support: Do you have any tech-savvy family members, friends, or neighbours who can support you with the above issues?

If you’re an absolute beginner to word processing—or to publishing in general—please don’t let technology intimidate you. The answers are out there, and there are people who are willing to help. The tools are there to serve you, not the other way around.