No matter what your opinion of Microsoft, getting your manuscript into a compatible version is a priority. Read the submission guidelines of your chosen publisher or agent carefully. Most times they will require you to put it into a doc format or docx or rtf.
Make sure you check things carefully once it is in the proper format. Depending on what you started in, you may have funky things creep into your manuscript in the new format.
But my editor will take care of it. Yes, they might, but if you are a professional and want to be taken seriously in this chosen field, learn the tool of your craft. Believe me it will make your work easier in the long run.
Some hints when typing your manuscript into a word processor to make your life and the life of your publisher a bit easier:
- Use page breaks not hard returns to get to the next chapter. Do not insert return/enter at the end of a page, just keep typing until the end of the chapter, then insert page break. (In Word it's under your Insert menu.)
- When you get to the end of a line do not hit return. Keep typing and your word processor will automatically go to the next line.
- Do not use tab to indent paragraphs.
- Only hit return at the end of a paragraph.
- Become familiar with your formatting options. All publishers have different preferences on font and margins. If your chosen publisher has a specific request, it's easy to change your whole document by selecting all and then going to the paragraph formatting options. You can set the margins, the indentations and line spacing right there. Setting your font is just as easy.
- Google is your friend. If you don't know how to do something in Word, google it. Someone has either asked your question before or made a tutorial on how to do it, or in some cases get rid of it.
- Know how to use track changes. Most publishers/editors will use track changes for the editorial process. This function of Word is a lifesaver for both editors and writers if you know how to use it properly. (In the later versions of Word, become familiar with the Review menu.
- Use spell checker and grammar checker. You may prefer to leave this off on your first draft, but when editing, turn it on so you can see the annoying green and red squiggles. You may choose to ignore the Word hints, and Word isn't perfect it doesn't catch everything, but at least if these features are turned on, you can review it and see if you wrote what you intended.
- Having trouble figuring out how to say something a little differently? Right click and click on a word and click on synonyms. Word will make suggestions of other words you might choose so you aren't using the same word over and over again.
- Find and replace. Did you decide to change the character's name at the end of your drafting process? Just click on replace and type in what you want to find and then put in what you want to change it to and you can replace everything at one time. Warning on this one though: If your character name appears in other words, you'll want to put a space before and after the find to make sure you're not changing other words.
These simple things you can do will help polish your manuscript and perhaps get your beloved manuscript in the door of a publisher.
Questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you.