How many book pages have you read?

What a real manuscript looks like

Another page where you can find out everything you need to know about the standard page:

For reasons of convenience - as you can see - I've got used to writing everything down. does that lead to problems when you offer your manuscript to a publisher?

You can bet on that. You can save yourself the postage for sending a manuscript written in this way; that ends up on the "reject" pile after a single look at the first page.

In general, I can only advise against a career as a writer if comfort is so important to you. Despite all rumors to the contrary, writing is a strenuous, insecure and uncomfortable profession.

how long should a novel be? I have already read that you specify 350 pages. Nevertheless, this information is extremely imprecise. a larger font size can turn 200 pages into 270 pages and a smaller font size 170 pages or less. you can also stretch or compress the text by narrowing the left and right margin. the font an can also change the length significantly. I've already searched half the internet for it and haven't found anything clever.

If you had just read on on my page, you will find it listed in tiny detail

I think if you knew how many characters (including spaces) a novel should have per A4 page, everyone can adjust the font size, font, etc. so that it fits.

Yes, it is exactly. And there is even a de facto norm for that. It looks like this: A manuscript page should consist of 30 lines with a maximum of 60 characters (including spaces; after all, as the name suggests, there are also characters). Makes a maximum of 1,800 keystrokes per side.

The font I recommend is Courier, 11 points, one and a half lines. Page number at the top in the middle, at the bottom (in a slightly smaller font and optically separated - does not count towards the manuscript scope :-D) Title of the novel, name of the author and perhaps email address: that in case the wind blows one of your pages, one Lector at his feet, who picks it up, reads it and says, "Whoa, wonderful, who wrote that?"

If you extrapolate that and take into account the existence of short lines and paragraphs, you can say: A novel of normal length has about half a million characters. Below it is a short novel, above it a long one. There are also plenty of that.

I've been writing a manuscript for four days now (Arial, font size 12, 1.5 line spacing, 19 pages currently, 2 cm indented on the left) that falls into the field of science fiction. First of all, I wanted to ask if this is the "standard format" for manuscripts?

No it is not. I explain what the standard format is in around 1000 places on my homepage. But that doesn't matter, German publishers aren't that terribly fussy. If there's something clever to read, any format is right. And if there's nothing clever to read, the standard format won't save it either.

I have written a volume of short stories and am now wondering whether I should number the manuscript consecutively, or whether I should number each story individually. I hope you can help me with this. I just don't want to make a mistake when sending the manuscript.

So, first of all: cool down. It does not matter "not to make a mistake" in sending the manuscript. Publishers are not teachers who give you grades. Publishers are for-profit companies that take on the trouble of looking through unsolicited manuscripts (and that is a costly effort!) Because they are more or less looking for new authors whose texts can be marketed profitably. This is how you have to see it. First of all, that means you can make all sorts of mistakes. Basically no one cares about mistakes. The only thing that shouldn't happen is that you've written something that is such a profitable text and none of the editors who are faced with it notice. So it will certainly not fail because of the type of page numbering.

And that brings us to the point. A short story book by an unknown author is not a profitable text. This is not a malicious appointment by the publishers, but a fact of the German book market. Even volumes of short stories by well-known and famous authors sell badly in Germany, that is, mostly at a loss. Even Stephen King's books of short stories (who could sell anything, even his shopping lists) sell significantly worse than his novels. Although they are usually even better than this; that has nothing to do with it. It's just like that: German readers want to read novels, not collections of short stories. (Ask yourself if you honestly prefer to read collections of short stories rather than novels? No, right?)

Of course you can still try, but be prepared that it won't be easy to get your work done. I would advise you to start with a novel during this phase of sending out the manuscript and collecting rejection letters. Perhaps one of your short stories is suitable to be expanded into a novel?

Oh, and the direct answer to your question: I would number the manuscript consecutively.

Whatever I try, my page size is a complete catastrophe.

The correct page format is not so important that a publisher would not recognize or even reject a good book in spite of slightly different dimensions. So don't panic!

And the margins look totally stupid on me. How do they have to be?

On the left wide enough for possible stapling (although manuscripts are sent UNSTAPPED), on the right there is space for correction comments. And the text left-justified with a fluttering margin on the right (do NOT set justification).

Do spaces belong to standards?


If you think about it carefully, knowing the number of keystrokes is of little help when estimating the length of a manuscript, because of the paragraphs - a text can consist of a very short dialogue, then a few keystrokes are still a long text. For this reason, you actually calculate with pages, whereby a page has 30 lines and about 60 characters (on average) per line - that is, 1800 characters if you would type everything in full. When an editor hears that a book has 540,000 characters, for example, he divides that by 1800 and says, aha, so there are 300 manuscript pages. This gives him the real idea of ​​the volume of the book.

In the meantime, the distinction has become commonplace in many places to differentiate between "WORD-counted" and "hand-counted" keystrokes.

What is the difference? For heaven's sake, hand-counting does not mean that you count the keystrokes in your work by hand - it rather means that you take the number of your manuscript pages and multiply by 1,800. Because on a standard page with 30 lines and approx. 60 characters per line there is a maximum of 1800 characters - and where there is no letter, there is a space.

With "WORD-counted" keystrokes - this applies to every text program that counts the keystrokes of a text - only the characters actually typed are counted, because only those characters are actually contained in the file. The spaces between the words count, but not the spaces after the end of a paragraph. Logically, less comes out this way.

Which font size?

Not less than 10, not greater than 12 points. And use a boring font like Courier, Arial or Times Roman - just no "jewelry" or "fashion font".

In every footer of the manuscript my address ...? Or only on the 1st page? I thought a cover sheet with address and title would be sufficient?

Just imagine a gust of wind coming through the open window and shaking up the lecturer's desk ...

Or imagine that by some coincidence only 1 sheet from your reading sample gets into the hand of a reader who reads it and says, "hey, great style ... and I would like to know what happens next ..." - Don't you want to give someone like that the chance to contact you?

Apart from that: these are all externals. Ultimately, what matters is whether your book is good. So send it off!

How does the page have to be formatted?

Here at least there are clear rules. The standard manuscript page looks like this anywhere in the world (except maybe in Japan, China, etc.):

  • 30 lines
  • an average of 60 characters per line
  • non-proportional font, e.g. Courier
  • wide line spacing
  • wide margin
  • Page number in the top center
  • In addition, it cannot hurt to include the title of the complete work and the name of the author in a footer.

Only in the last few months have I become aware that spoken passages in books are not, as is usually the case, with quotation marks and end characters, but are enclosed in double arrows. Is this punctuation already used while writing or is it added or reformatted afterwards by the respective publisher?

This is called "French quotation marks", although they are used very differently in French books, mostly not at all.

No, of course the manuscript will go through the hands of a typesetter again. Nowadays he no longer uses lead letters, but even if you submit the text as a file, he still has to edit it extensively. Inserting the quotation marks is the smallest step. There are still worlds between the typeface that, say, WinWord creates and what a professional typesetting program creates.

I formatted the pages exactly according to their instructions. That is, the longest lines are 60 characters long. But of course the line breaks after whole words cause lines of different lengths. And that means that the 30-line page has fewer than 1800 characters. The solution is obvious: you would have to separate. Then it won't be exact either, but more precise. But again I can't imagine that hyphenation is desirable in a manuscript. Hence the question: Are the 1,800 characters per page only meant to be over-the-top or is hyphenation actually common?

Absolutely not. If you one day submit your novel with hyphenations (on diskette or by e-mail), the typesetters will pin your portrait on their bulletin board and throw darts at it. Or worse. There should be plus / minus 1800 characters per page. With a nice margin for correction and space between the lines. So do not compress the 1000-page novel down to 250 pages by using the tightest formatting (Times Roman 6pt, single-line, without margin, etc.) - anything is possible! - or blow up the 200-page novel to 500 pages, then everyone is happy.

At one point in the book that I would like to summarize it says: dog, cat, mouse ......, I thought. It was important for me there that there were no quotation marks at this point. Clear. Because it is not spoken of.

Correct. However, you only get 3 points in a row if you want to ... well, leave something out.

The three points to be omitted, do you put them immediately after the last word? I've seen this with a space between the last word and the periods. Is there a rule for?

Actually this is an OWN character: The ellipsis, usually accessible in Word via Alt-Str- [period], and it consists of 3 dots. And it's VERY right to put spaces before and after, I've heard. But I don't want it to slip forward on the line, so I'd have to put a PROTECTED space BEFORE and a NORMAL after ... Fuck it. The character doesn't exist in my word processor anyway, and I control the break in my mind by adding the three dots to the word. Should the typesetter prove that he has mastered the search-and-replace function.

By the way: Even with a beginner, the acceptance of a manuscript DARAN will not fail!

But how would you make it recognizable if you left out the "I thought" in order to express such a mental exclamation? Example: I went ....., sat in the dark forest. (Now the part in question) Is there someone behind the trees? I read a book in which the author simply wrote such sentences in italics. Is that the solution?

You can do it, but it works just as well (and much more elegantly) like this:

I walked through the woods to the bench under the large Douglas fir, where I sat and enjoyed the view. A strange noise behind me made me wince. I looked around. Was there someone behind the trees? Was he watching me? Suddenly I didn't like the view anymore. It could be a pretty creepy place so late at night.

So, the thoughts are simply in the past tense as well. Incidentally, such questions can be solved simply by carefully reading books by other authors. As you did.

When do you take a line to omit, when do you take three dots?

The 3 points are taken when ... hmm ... someone deliberately takes a break. The dash against it-

Hey, something just interrupted me!

And that's why I take the "abrupt" line.

How do you mark italics in the manuscript? Do you actually use italic Courier font? Or do you "brace" the words in slashes or in asterisks or something similar?

I used to use italic Courier font, now I underline italic passages as well. That works pretty well. Brackets in slashes or the like. - Please do not.

To what extent is correct spelling important when writing a manuscript? Of course, spelling is always important when writing, but how high is the error tolerance? Is there a rule of thumb how many misspellings per page can be tolerated?

No. It should just look reasonably professional. It doesn't matter whether you write "Tip" or "Tip". But you shouldn't confuse "that" and "that" and "you" and "she", and commas with the pepper shaker are generally bad.

How can I ensure that WORD allows a maximum of 60 characters per line?

60 characters per LINE can be reached on average. I have set my program so that it allows a MAXIMUM of 65 characters per line (this is easy if you set a non-proportional font such as Courier); With the normal word break, the average is plus / minus 60 characters per line - sometimes more, sometimes less, sometimes MUCH less, if a German monster word like "Gross National Product" no longer fits into the line by just one character.

Very important: NO WORD SEPARATIONS !! NO! NEVER! Otherwise the typesetters will swear later because they have to take out the sh *** word separations by hand. And half of them forget, which leads to absurd-looking mistakes in the sentence.

I somehow failed to tell Word to only allow 30 lines per page at a time.

The trick with Word is to switch off the "paragraph control" for the page break in the standard format templates (normal text). Then you can (by adjusting the margins) achieve a fixed number of lines per page.

But exactly 30, I admit it, remains difficult ...> :-(

(I think you notice that WORD is not developed by practitioners. Even if you only wanted to write letters with it: Even in the latest version, you are still looking in vain for a format template for business letters according to DIN, right? The Microsofties apparently all just write Emails ...)

Addendum: Today I am taking notes
papyrus. A standard-compliant template for novel manuscripts is included.

I'm supposed to write a report with 80 lines, 60 characters each. What are the attacks? All characters with the spaces or only the characters without spaces, i.e. only the letters. I don't find any keystrokes in Word, just the statement "characters (with spaces)". Are these the attacks?

Clear. To write a space, you have to "hit" the space bar, right?

So: Characters are letters AND spaces.

How long should a chapter be in manuscript form (30 lines, 60 characters)? Are there 'norms' or is it up to each author to decide at which point he would like to insert a new chapter?

There are no rules for the division of chapters, you can do that according to your mood and feeling.Some make very short chapters, some very long, some none at all. You may want to design the end of a chapter in such a way that the reader is motivated to start the next one (since the end of a section always increases the temptation to put the book down), but you can do the same one popular.

You wrote something of 300 pages on your page that was a good start. Which format do you mean by that again? Perhaps you should state the circumference in words or characters. My novel has 50,000 words and 300,000 keystrokes so far, but it will probably have around 60,000 at the end. In A4 format one-line, 12 characters TNR are 50,000 words almost 90 pages, in pocket book format there are 230. You mean the paperback pages, right? That would take me to around 300 pages with 60,000 words!

When an author, editor or publisher speaks of "pages", they always mean the standard manuscript page of 1,800 characters. Read the relevant passages on my homepage again, I have explained what it feels like 10,000 times there.

Extent information in words or keystrokes is more common in the Anglo-American language area than in our country, and they are not as meaningful: It makes a difference whether a book consists of many short lines of dialogue or long, nested paragraphs. This difference is not evident from the information given in words or characters.

What is the usual paragraph formatting in the manuscript? Is it okay if the first line of every paragraph is indented four characters? And / or should there be a blank line between two paragraphs?

No, no blank lines between paragraphs; this is American format and not common in this country. Indenting the first line of each paragraph by 4 characters is enough (I only indent 3; but it doesn't matter).

If my "book" is not accepted because B. have a bad writing style I can work on it, but if it is just not accepted because the manuscript is wrongly bound then ... ah!

Nonsense. If you were a publisher, would you reject an exhilarating book that reads the time and space around you and that you feel is going to be a hit, just because it is "wrongly" bound? Anyone who does that would otherwise have a huge quirks and would be out of the question as a business partner anyway. In the extreme case, you would ask the author to send a differently formatted printout.

I would like to ask you about a few things / rules regarding formatting in a novel.

Has anything NOT been said about this ??? I can not imagine that. And the formatting of a novel is, frankly, the least important thing about it.

© Andreas Eschbach

Note: The articles on this website are the intellectual property of Andreas Eschbach and may not be reproduced, copied, edited, published or reproduced on other websites without prior express permission. This does not apply to quotations to the extent permitted by copyright law and copies for personal use, e.g. on your own hard drive.