Tip #2. Cleaning Up your Manuscript

In this top tip I’ll describe how you can clean up your manuscript so it’s ready for printing.

When we write, using a word processor,  a lot of the time our fingers do stuff we’re not aware of; introducing extra spaces, tabs, invisible characters (not ‘people’ characters) just by unfortunate key combinations.
As we dump our thoughts, the story as it is, is generated. Back in the real world stuff happens, and spurious elements are introduced into our manuscript.

Before mentioning how to clean up your MS, I’ll detail some of the issues.

  • Spurious spaces
    • there are many times when we double-tap the space bar without knowing it. When looking at our manuscript we don’t notice this; but when it’s sent off for printing duplicated spaces can cause havoc.
  • Tabs
    • This formatting character is required. However, there is always a way to generate an indented piece of prose without ever using the tab character, and make it consistent.
    • The key thing to think about is; “how will the printer, I’m sending my wonderful manuscript to, judge the size of the indent?” (By printer, I mean the device, not the company)
  • Multiple new lines
    • In a piece of prose there may be a need to separate one paragraph from another.
    • The best way to achieve this requirement is to deliberately set it up in the document. Not leave it to fate, nor multiple ‘enters’.
    • If you use a specific ‘break’ style between particular paragraphs then make it consistent. See my top tip on using MS Word.

So – some of the potential issues. The next page details possible solutions.