Home » Blog » How to Format a Picture Book Manuscript for Publishers

How to Format a Picture Book Manuscript for Publishers

marlo-garner-headshot

 

By Marlo Garner

When submitting to traditional publishers or literary agents, presenting your manuscript professionally is extremely important. Attention to proper formatting will help your submission stand out from the tens of thousands of other submissions that are less well—or downright poorly—formatted. Proper formatting not only makes your work more professional, it shows an editor or agent that you know something about this industry and have taken the energy to invest seriously in your work. Proper formatting will instantly put your manuscript ahead of the crowd’s.

Picture Book Formatting Checklist

  • 12pt Times New Roman, black, regular. (I know ZERO editors who prefer Courier! It is not easy on the eyes when you have to read all day. TNR is universally acceptable.) NO FANCY FONTS. I repeat, no fancy fonts and NO COMIC SANS!
  • Place your contact details on the upper left of first page:
    • Your name
    • Your address
    • Your phone number
    • Your email address
    • Your website/blog if you have one (and if it is relevant to being a writer)
  • Place the word count at upper right. E.g. Word Count: 570. Round the word count up or down to the nearest ten for picture books.
  • Leave 2-3 inches, or 6-8 cm, between your details and the title. This is space for editors or agents to make hand-written notes, if they desire.
  • Center the title. I like to use a slightly larger font size (14-16).
  • Place your byline centered below the title in 12 pt. TNR.
  • You do not need a cover page for picture books; just leave a two or three lines and start the text below the byline.
  • Double-space the main text of your story.
  • Your page should have 1-inch margins all round. This is Word’s default setting.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5.
  • Left align paragraphs, ragged right
  • No lines between paragraphs
  • Only one space between sentences, not two
  • Place a header on any subsequent pages with your last name and title on upper left, page number on upper right.
  • Follow any other submission guidelines of the publisher you’re targeting.
  • Do not include a copyright: a registered copyright is a headache for publishers/agents. A copyright symbol is considered amateurish and unnecessary by traditional publishers and literary agents.

If you use Word, here’s how your paragraph settings should look in the story part of the manuscript. If you set them first, you won’t have to adjust things manually as you go.

 

marlo-paragraph-spacing

And here is how a properly formatted two-page picture book manuscript would look:

 

marlo-page-format-childrens-book

 

That’s it. Now your work looks professional. Good luck, and don’t mind the rejection letters! Keep learning, keep writing, and keep seeking to be ever more professional.

No tags for this post.

8 comments

    • Marlo Garnsworthy says:

      When you are writing, developing, and revising a picture book text, writing art notes for yourself can help you determine what could be cut from the text because it could be shown in the illustrations. But in your submission to traditional publishers, art notes should only be included when they are necessary for an understanding of the story and/or add essential information to the narrative. No matters of style or design should be included. No incidental information is relevant. When you submit, carefully chosen and sparing art notes can provide clarity for an editor, but if in doubt, leave them out. Place them on the line below the relevant text and format them as I have done in this example but also italicize it (the comment form won’t let me do that!):

      [Art note: Format an art note like this.]

      Happy revising and good luck with your submission!

      Marlo

    • Marlo Garnsworthy says:

      Hi Missish, I probably need a little more info to answer your question. Are you asking about art notes, too, or are you asking about formatting in general?
      Marlo

  1. Mark Glover Masterson says:

    Nov. 5th, 2016

    Hi to you Marlo,

    Great! site and your picture book manuscript ‘How To’ points are so appreciated.
    Can a manuscript also include illustration notes (Illo) as I read about on other info sites?
    A short bracketed sentence to describe the visual so the publishing house will not miss out on the pun, etc. And will my manuscript also include the all the character’s dialogue?

    Cheers!

    – Mark in Vancouver, Canada

  2. Delia Hardy says:

    Thank you for this. It is so helpful for a newbie writer.
    I’m wondering also about page breaks. In your manuscript example above, is each new paragraph a new page?

  3. Jason Krauth says:

    If I write a children’s book that rhymes, should I start a new line at the end of each sentence or continue it as if I was writing a paragraph the didn’t rhyme?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *