Naturally, the question I get asked the most came to mind.
How do I get freaking 25 lines per page in Word???
I hate to tell you, but the easiest way to get the “Formatting Genie” to wave a magic wand at your manuscript is to learn a program like Scrivener and hit the “Compile” button so it does all the work for you. If you want to use “regular old Microsoft Word” be sure to stick around and read the whole blog.
This all came up when someone in my writing chapter asked me if I could “please, please, please write a blog about how to get 25 lines per page,” I responded “of course I will” even though I’d never done this setting in my life.
I thought, I’ve been teaching Word since 1995, I can do a pesky Paragraph setting. Right? Not so much.
Why had I never done this before, you ask? Mostly because I’m half blind. Times New Roman, for example, makes me crazy because when there is an “r” and an “n” next to each other, to me they look like an “m.”
[Of course, I secretly believe that if my manuscript is in an easy-to-read font like Arial or Tahoma, the editor (that poor soul who reads thousands of pages a week) will be more kindly disposed to buy my book.]
Still, Line Spacing is in the Paragraph dialog box…and this is one of my favorite places in Word. There is so much to do here!
All you have to do is select the text you’d like to change (hit Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select the entire document ~ Command + A on the MAC [no you don’t type the “+” sign]) and go to the Format Paragraph dialog box.
Or, you can also set line spacing with the following key strokes:
Ctrl + 1 = Single space
Ctrl + 2 = Double space
Ctrl + 5 = 1 ½ space]
And what about that crazy beast, “Widow/Orphan control?” This feature lives in the paragraph dialog box too! It drives most writers CRAZY.
Do you know what this Widow/Orphan business is? This setting makes all the lines in a paragraph stay together, even when you want them to separate to help you get 25 lines on a page.
I have people tell me all the time that they can’t find this sucker. You, my friend, are now in the know that it’s located on the second tab in the Paragraph dialog box, titled “Line and Page Breaks.” It’s at the very top and by default it is ON. (Obviously no one polled us writers when they were deciding which features to keep in Word.)
Are you catching on that Paragraph is the party place for us writers??
The last thing you need to know about before I give you “the 25 line secret” is that margins and font size – even font type – matter when you are trying to get your manuscript formatted to have 25 lines on a page. That being said, all of my examples use Word’s default margins of Top/Bottom – 1” and Left/Right = 1.25 inch because I like the extra white space.
[Yeah, yeah…the rules that date back to 1980 say one inch margins only. Once you learn how to use your Paragraph settings, you can be the Word Dominatrix and MAKE your margins work for you.]
Note: For anyone who has never changed their margin settings:
- In older versions of Word – click on the File menu and choose Page Setup
- In newer versions of Word – choose the Page Layout tab and click on the Margins button in the second grouping
- OR double click on the vertical ruler to the left of the document when you are in Print Layout View. [p.s. You won’t see the ruler to the left unless you are in Print Layout View.]
So, back to the Big Formatting Secret…
I figured there must just be a quick Paragraph setting (get to the Paragraph dialog box by clicking on the Format menu in the older versions of Word OR on the Home and Page Layout tabs in the latest versions). I expected it would be a snap – four or five steps at the most.
SIX steps later…the easiest way for writers to achieve the 25 lines per page nirvana:
- Select all the text in your document that you want to change (for example, you’ll probably omit your title page)
- Open the paragraph dialog box (tips given above by version)
- If you haven’t turned off the Widow/Orphan control, do it now
- On the Indent and Line Spacing tab, go toward the bottom of the dialog box where it says “Line Spacing:” – click the drop down arrow and choose the word “Exactly”
- In the “At:” field to the right of where it now says “Exactly,” type in “25 pt”
- Click OK
I used the following font combinations:
Courier New – 14 pt
Arial – 12 pt
(The dreaded) Times New Roman – 12 pt
Follow the six steps above to achieve manuscript formatting perfection. I hope you’ll let me know if this makes one small part of your work in progress easier.
All of you who walk around feeling technology challenged:
Please keep in mind that everyone has to muddle around until someone trains them. This column is dedicated to writers like you.
Do you have trouble with formatting your manuscripts or are you a Formatting Genie? Do you use an application like Scrivener that does your formatting for you? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!