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12 June 2008

Word Counts


I have an on-line friend who is doing the Australian version of NaNo (National November Novel Writing Month). The question of the Word word counting facility came up and the concensus is that everyone uses it because it is so much easier. Well, that's true, but it makes it easier for publishers (and therefore your MS is more likely to be looked on favourably) if you average 250 words to a page. They can then calculate very easily the approximate length of your MS. It's not that difficult and just takes a little time to set up a template with 25 lines to a page, with inch margins all round, using US 'Letter Size'. The bonus is that you will find using this method you actually end up with MORE words than Word says!

In Microsoft Word, start by pulling up a new page, using the "white page" icon on the toolbar or File > New > Blank Document

Then, do the following: Choose File > Page Setup Set the Top, Left and Right Margins to 1 inch.
To get 25 lines per page, create a NORMAL style (see below) that has 12 pt. Courier, Exactly 25 pts line spacing, and has Widows/Orphans control turned off. (Yes I know a lot of authors hate Courier, I do myself, but it's what editors like because, again they're used to it and it helps them to judge the length of a piece. Probably not so important for on-line submissions, but I stick to it since I've been told it's 'correct', and it works best for keeping to 250 words to a page.)

FORMAT STYLES:
Styles are used to make body text and headings look alike throughout your document.

To create styles, get into the document or new blank page you are going to use.
First, click Format > Styles and Formatting. You will see the basic styles that are automatically created in every new document displayed in a pane on the right edge of the screen. This list of styles is duplicated in the drop down list next to the font drop down box in your formatting toolbar.

MODIFY THE NORMAL STYLE:

Click on the paragraph mark on the right edge of the pane to the right of the word NORMAL. The cursor changes to a down arrow when yoyou hover your mouse over it. In the drop down menu, click Modify. You will see a dialogue box labeled "Modify Style"

Select Courier (or Courier New), then choose 12 pt for the font size.
Click Format at the bottom of the box, and choose Paragraph from the menu that pops up. (Leave the name as Normal. By doing this, every new paragraph you start will automatically have the attributes you have set for the Normal body style.)

You will see a dialogue box labeled "Paragraph" On the Indents and Spacing Tab, do the following: Under Special > Choose "First Line" Under By > choose .3" Under Line Spacing, choose "Exactly" Under Line Spacing At, choose 25 pt
(this will cause your documents to have exactly 25 lines to a page)

Click the Line and Page Breaks Tab

Make sure there are no check marks in the Widows/Orphans Control check box. Click OK to exit this dialogue box, and OK again to exit the next box.

To use a style, highlight the line of text to be changed, or highlight the text, then choose the style from the drop down box or styles pane.

ADD A HEADER:

Go to PAGE SETUP and set the Top Header to 0.5" 'from edge. Click on 'OK' and in 'View' on the taskbar, click on 'Header and Footer'.

Include the title and a slash mark and your surname flush left (you may have to slide the indicator at the top of the page to the left to be flush left.) Tab twice to put the cursor to the extreme right and click on the page numbering icon. Note: The heading information and correct page number will automatically be added to each page of your document without changing the number of lines in the body of your page.

MAKE A CHAPTER HEADING STYLE:
To create a chapter heading style that is upper case and always starts the same distance down from the top of the page, do the following:

Go back to the Format menu. Click the New Style button at the top of the Styles pane. Type the name CHAPTER in the Name Box and choose Style For Following Paragraph - It should be set as Normal Courier New and 12 pt for the font type and size

Click Bold. Click the Format button at the bottom of the dialogue box, then Click Font and click to put a check in the All Caps check box. Click OK once.

Click the Format button again Click Paragraph In the Indents and Spacing Tab, then do the following:
Under General > Alignment: choose Centered Under General > outline Level: choose Level 3 Make sure the indention boxes show 0 and Special is set to None Under Spacing > Before: type 290 px (this will drop all your chapter heading down toward the center of the page, you may find you have to 'jiggle' the amount a bit to get it right) Make sure Line Spacing is set to Single Click OK.

Note: If you need to add a second line to a Chapter heading without leaving blank spaces, use SHIFT + ENTER this puts a soft return between the first and second line of your chapter headings.

This may sound complicated, but if you copy and print out these instructions and do one step at a time, you can set up your manuscript format in twenty to thirty minutes at the most. If you save your template as 'MS' and use it every time you start a new work, it will save you time and trouble in the long run. I hope it works for you, if not, let me know and I'll try and help if I can. (I'm not setting myself up as an expert but I've learnt a lot myself by 'trial and error' and gleaned a lot from other sites!)