Furry Writers' Guild Forum

I have a manuscript question.

How do I denote chapters in a manuscript? I haven’t found anything on how to do this. My novel is nearing completion but I do not know how to denote chapter breaks. Anyone that know please let me know.

My first question is what program are you using to write it?

I have yet to make the transition to Scrivner, so I write in word. With my novel project, when I reach the end of a chapter, I put a page break. And that’s about it. I’m also writing more of a travelogue, so my chapter headings are more dates and not much else.

Hope that helps a little.

I do the same as TJ’s method and use the # symbol as my page break, or a pretty good breathing point. As far as denoting chapters, I’d probably say you could use the # symbol in the same way or open up and start a new chapter in a new Word file/document when you feel like you’ve said enough or put enough words down for that particular chapter.

Right now each chapter is in a seperate file.
I use Word on my tablet so it’s been a lot of touch screen typing.

In the final manuscript, each chapter should start on a new page, with the title of the chapter (or simply “Chapter 2”) about a third of the way from the top of the new page.

There’s a “standard” manuscript format which is more a set of conventions than anything else, but it’s worth learning them. William Shunn’s web site gets referenced an awful lot for this:

[ul][] http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html
] http://www.shunn.net/format/novel.html[/ul]

Some of the example formatting he gives is very old school, but it’s still worth reading. My personal guidelines are something like this:

[ul][]Use 12-point Times New Roman
]Use 1-inch margins all around
[]Headers on every page, about a half an inch down, that just read “Name / Title / #” (where “#” is the page number).
]Use double line spacing
[]Turn widow and orphan control off
]Turn off most of Word’s “smart correction” features (automatic fractions, symbols, etc.); I do use “smart quotes” and em dashes, although not everyone does
[]Indent paragraphs by 0.25"–0.5" (I use 0.4" myself)
]Start new chapters on a new page, with the title of the chapter (or just “Chapter 2”) about a third of the way down from the top of the new page
[*]Indicate scene breaks (not chapter breaks) with a centered “#” between the ending paragraph of one scene and the starting paragraph of the next[/ul]

…and that’s pretty much it. (Oh, and don’t doublespace between sentences, and use real italics rather than underlines. With all respect to Mr. Shunn, there’s no reason to make your manuscript look like it came out of a 1973 manual typewriter anymore.)

Here’s another good resource too.

Though many of the same caveats from our esteemed colleague Chipotle apply. My research suggests nobody much cares about the six-character “word” in monotype font anymore nor the 250-word “page.” TNR should be fine. And you should be able to use whatever word count your word processor gives you. Though many people round up to the nearest thousand.


Italics seems to be something I wonder at. If underlining it is for italics then how do you denote an underline?

I guess it’s based on what the publishers want.

Shunn speaks to this very point. To wit:


“If you intend a word or phrase to appear in italics, the convention has long been to indicate this in your manuscript by underlining. This practice, too, is beginning to change. In Courier you should continue to underline, since italics in monospaced fonts are easy to overlook. In Times New Roman, though, it’s becoming more and more acceptable to use italics directly. (Again, consult submission guidelines when you’re in doubt.)”

Though I think you’ve got the general idea already. Do the very research you’re doing and come up with a clean-looking format consistent with accepted industry practice that suits you. Note that nearly everybody accepts TNR font these days, and a few markets I researched would not accept submissions in Courier. Publishers (and literary agents, too) have specific things they want things done; their job is to list those in their submission guidelines. Our job is to make sure what we submit follows them. The fact your asking tells me you’ll quite willing and able to do that. Good on ya, mate! And good hunting.


The short answer is “you don’t.” :slight_smile: The easiest way to think of that is that we use italics to emphasize text. The reason that we underlined with typewriters is simply that most typewriters had one typeface, and you couldn’t switch to italics! So we needed a convention to show the people who were doing the actual typesetting what needed to be set in italics in the final copy. When you think about it, why would you need both italics and underlining in text? They both have the same semantic meaning: emphasis. They both denote exactly the same thing. (On the web, this is a bit different – by convention, we underline links. But that’s a case where underlining and italics have different semantic meanings; print books don’t have links. If you have an ebook with links in it, then those links should probably be underlined, but that’s a very special case.)