Manuscript Format Template (free download)


Have you read my posts on Formatting your Novel Manuscript? If not, read part one here and part two here.

I surveyed forty literary agents in October of 2014 to ask them which font they preferred for submitted manuscripts. The clear winner was Times New Roman. Many agents read pages on e-readers or mobile devices, and TNR is a web-safe, system-installed, serif.  Using TNR allows them to read pages without changing formatting first, but it is also an easy font to change.

Download the MS Format TEMPLATE.

Right-click the link above and “save as.” I saved it as a Word Document, even though I personally use Pages, so if there are any issues, please report them to me! Our PC isn’t working, and I don’t have Word on my Macbook Pro.

This template uses paragraph styles, which you can import into any preexisting document. Otherwise save a copy of MS Format TEMPLATE, rename it, and begin typing or pasting your manuscript.

Read through all of the instructions on the template, and save it as-is to keep as a reference. Do not type into the original TEMPLATE—type in a duplicate or copy file.

Copyright Notice:

This template was created by me for personal or educational use only. You may share it with others—simply give them this link or share the link on social media using the buttons below. You may not pass this template off as your own or charge anyone to use it. You may not upload the template to any website or blog.

Of course, you have full ownership of your own manuscript, whether you use my template or paragraph styles to format it.

22 thoughts on “Manuscript Format Template (free download)

  1. Carla Jo says:

    Thank you for the template! I’ve wasted an entire evening not writing, but trying to teach myself how to format a manuscript. I wish I’d come here first. Again, thank you. God bless you!

    • June Schiavoni says:

      I am old school because no indent on the first paragraph but indents on the following paragraphs doesn’t make sense to me. I find it difficult to read and enjoy a book with indents before each paragraph. BUT…I want to write my novel correctly and be sure I have every chance I can get to published. I am rather new at all of this but want to learn. Is it possible to use indents and not have my novel thrown in the garbage? Thank you so much…June Schiavoni

      • Lara says:

        Hi June,
        If you indent all of the paragraphs, that’s fine. Academic papers indent every single paragraph. This is more of a typesetting / layout thing than a manuscript formatting thing and probably should have been saved for the “Hard Core Manuscript Formatting” post. You’ll be fine!

  2. gillian72 says:

    Thank you for the template. You are a superstar.
    I have a lot of experience with Word and I know how to do all the bits but I get so tangled up with everything that I forget what I am supposed to be doing half the time.
    Your template is an awesome time saver.

    • Lara says:

      You’re welcome! I hope it works OK—I actually made it in Pages and exported it as a .doc, but hopefully it transitioned smoothly with no hiccups.

  3. eradamus says:

    Hi, my name is Sam, and I recently (by recently, I mean back in June, though I have gone back to it recently) finished the first draft of my novel, and this helped a lot. Thank you a lot! Have a nice day, and God bless!

      • eradamus says:

        Thanks! That’s nearly finished, fortunately, so I’m letting beta readers such as my sister read it now. Thank you once more, and have a great day! 🙂

      • Lara says:

        You’re welcome! If you need any help while revising, I’ve got links up in the menu to some resources here on my blog. In late winter I’ll also be doing a revision workshop at Best of luck!

    • Lara says:

      Hi Julia,
      If you’re just starting, don’t worry about formatting. A free alternative to Word is Google Docs, which you can use with a free Google account at

      Best of luck on your writing!

  4. Carole Mann says:

    Hope you can help-Fora fictional novel, should the manuscript be double spaced-? I have read conflicting answers to this question. I am on the third editing process and have this to resolve-Please=

    • Lara says:

      Hi Carole! Yes, your novel manuscript should be double spaced if you are submitting it to agents or someone who will read it and might leave comments. (That doesn’t mean hitting “return” after each line though, just setting your word processor’s setting to 2.0 line spacing.) Emails will appear as single-spaced, and some submission documents, like a query letter or a pitch, can be set in single-spacing, but the actual paragraphs of the novel should be double spaced with no extra padding before or after the paragraphs. Word defaults to single spaced and adding 6pt after paragraphs, I think. It’s been so long since I overrode that default.

  5. Kim says:

    Thanks so much! I was stuck trying to get the different paragraph styles to insert…frustrating! MS Word template still indents all paragraphs. Plus, yours had nuances such as legal name vs pseudonym and when to use each. Thanks again!

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