Writer Tech

Hello there aspiring authors! Are you using Microsoft Word to place your lovely ideas? Here’s an extremely useful tip I found over on Abby Annis’ blog, which I am going to expand on now.

Are you tired of having to change all the styles, putting a new header and formatting your document or reusing the format for another document? If you have one account dedicated to writing, or if you use Microsoft Word primarily to write, then this tip’s for you.

Option A: It consists of editing the master document template, which will appear every single time you open Microsoft Word, so you might not want to do this if you’re hesitant. If you want this, start from Step 1.

Option B: If you’re a student like me, you don’t want to open a new document to have it as a manuscript format. Thus, the template. Open a new document. Skip all the way to Step 4. Proceed with all the steps. Save as a Microsoft Word Template anywhere you want, where you can access it. When you want to use it, just double click on that file! It’ll open as a new Word document, so you won’t risk accidentally editing the template.

Option C: Read all the steps and not sure how you’re going to do it, but like the idea anyway? Leave a comment with your contact details, and I’ll email you the template!

1) Do a search on your system for this file “normal.dot”. Make sure you search the hidden files and folders. The Windows Vista file is “normal.dotm”, but doing a search for the former works just fine. This is how the file looks like, just like a normal Word document, but with a spiffy exclamation mark.

2) Right click, open. Do not double click and open it, as it just opens a new document.

3) This is the master document. Whatever changes you make here will appear when you open Microsoft Word. A reminder never hurts. Also, why is my background black? I’ll tell you at the end. :)

4) Now, I’ve changed my settings to follow Abby’s directions on adding the ‘Chapter Headings’ style. What I’ve done is to edit the ‘Normal’ style to match the headings. Times New Roman, size 12, double spacing. The works.

5) Under the ‘Format’ button, click the ‘Paragraph’ option and key in these settings:
6) Under the ‘Line and Page Breaks’ tab, I’ve had nothing selected. Be sure that the ‘Page break before’ option is not ticked. If it is ticked, you’ll be starting every new paragraph on a new page. Press ‘OK’.

7) Now here’s the fun part. The cover page! This is the standard format, but different agents have different formats, so take this with a grain of salt. In the center of the document, centralized, you want in separate lines: the title, ‘by’, your name/pen name.

The header now. Go to the ‘Insert’ tab, click on ‘Header’ and select the ‘Blank’ option. Be sure to click on the ‘Different first page’ option.

8) Now that you’ve done so, it’s time for the header. You can do this in two ways. The easier way is to add a ‘Blank (Three Column)’ header and delete the center text button. Another way is to o to the ‘Insert’ tab again, and this time add in a 2×1 table.

On the first column, put your name/pen name, mailing address, telephone number, email, blog address. This is left justified. On the second column, put in different lines: the number of words to the nearest thousand and the genre the story is in. (e.g. 76,000 words, YA Fantasy). This will be right justified.

Go to the ‘Home’ tab, click on the square table and press the ‘No Border’ option so the lines magically disappear. Double click anywhere in the document to get out of the header.

So that’s the cover page header done.

9) Now, you have to create a new header for the body of the document, which is your story. Go to the ‘Page Layout’ tab, click on ‘Breaks’ and select ‘Next Page’ under ‘Section Breaks’. This is presumably where your first chapter/prologue starts.
10) Now, you have to change the header for this section. Double click on the header, and unclick the ‘Link to Previous’ option. Delete everything in the header. Under the ‘Insert’ tab, click on ‘Page number’, ‘top of page’ option and ‘Plain number 3′, which will have the page number appear on the right corner of the top page. 
11) Edit the page number. Under the ‘Page Number’ tab, click on the ‘Format Page Numbers…’ option. Select the ‘Start at:’ option, and it’ll automatically default to ’1′. Select ‘OK’. 
12) Now the page number is selected, add your surname, title of the book (in CAPS) and the word ‘page’ beside the number as such: ‘Name/ TITLE/ page ‘, with a space after the word ‘page’.
Click anywhere in the body of the document, and you’re done! Press ‘Save’ and close the document.

13) I like to add another option where the chapter heading is already created on that page because I’m lazy. To do that, just click on the ‘Chapter Heading’ style and type out the name of your first chapter. Add an enter/return to get to the first line of your document, and you’re done!

14) Also, according to this post by the great Nathan Bransford, the margins should be 1 inch all around. The default template should have 1 inch margins, so you’re fine. If not, go to the ‘Page Layout’ tab and click on ‘Margins’ and select the appropriate layout.

15) When you open a new document, you will get the same template as saved before. Beware that if your computer crashes, the ‘normal.dot’ file might be gone. A new one will be generated in its place, but not with the changes you made so you might like to keep a backup copy of that file in a safe place.

16) Take note that when you want to start a new chapter, click on ‘Page Break’ or the ‘Chapter Heading’ option, and not ‘Section Break’. This is just in case your page number restarts with every chapter.

Now for the black layout. Click on the Microsoft Office button and select the ‘Word Options’ button on the bottom right. Under the ‘Popular’ tab, under ‘Color scheme:’ select ‘Black’. Or silver. Or the default blue, whichever’s your fancy.

Hope that helps!

  5 comments for “Writer Tech

  1. Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Crazy day! Finally got a chance to get over here to check this out. Great idea! You should be able to create a specific manuscript template too without changing your master template. I’ll have to look into it. Maybe I’ll do a post on that for Wed to build on yours.

    And putting the author info and word count/genre in the actual heading of the cover page? Genius! Total duh moment for me. I think I naturally seek out the most complicated way to do things. ;) Thanks for the shout out!

  2. Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 5:32 AM

    I skipped right to pictures and didn’t see you already talked about making a standard template. Yesterday was a very long day. ;)

  3. Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 5:57 AM

    Last comment, I promise. ;)

    When I set up my template, I selected the header option Blank (Three Columns) for the cover page and tabbed through the columns to create my header. You just have to delete the [Type text] in the center column. Saves the step of setting up the table. :)

    Thanks for posting this. Great idea!

  4. Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Hi Abby, thank you so much for the comments! <3

    I agree with the Blank (Three Columns) option for the cover page header. Tried that one first before the table, but something went wrong and I went all GRR LIYANA SMASH! and then went with the table (which was mild and did not resist my advances). xD

    Edited the post and added the header option in!

  5. Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 8:10 PM

    This is very interesting!

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