Editing Rant: Clean Up #3 – Chapter Headings

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What to Clean Up before Sending Your Manuscript to Your Editor #3 – Chapter Headings

First – Numbering

Verify all your chapters are numbered right. Please – no missing chapters, no double chapters. The one I am editing has two chapter 18s.

About 10 to 15% of the books I have edited have chapter counting errors. This issue is common enough it is on my check every time list. If you are paying me for my time and writing out the problems with the manuscript, do you want to be paying me for telling you there are two chapter 18s? I know, yes, if it is the case, but I’m sure you rather have caught that before you sent it for a professional read.

Second – Titles

Get the capitalization right for the titles – or at least consistent. Also the punctuation. Don’t capitalize all the words in one chapter title and then have a full sentence with a period for the next. Your editor usually won’t care what you choose, so long as it is consistent. You don’t even need chapter titles at all – but if you do have one chapter with a title, they all have to have it.

Three – Returns after Chapter Header

Do you have one or two line returns between the Chapter Header and the start of the document? Be consistent. Your editor usually won’t care what you choose, so long as it is consistent.

Four – New Page Start

Most publishers want chapters to start on a new page. Put a hard page break in there, not a dozen returns until it’s at the top of a new page. Your publisher might have different printer settings, and the pages may change by one line each, destroying the manually created page returns. For Microsoft Word, go to the Insert Tab, then Pages section, Page Break. Check on the submission page if you have a question – and even if you don’t. Always check the submission page in case the rules change. You never know when a publisher will have a software upgrade or downgrade.

Five – Formatting

Many people work each chapter in a separate file – to prevent massive data loss and also because the bigger the file, the longer saves take. They then need to assemble everything into one file for sending the manuscript out. This leads to inconsistent formatting including, but not limited to: font size changes, font changes, margin adjustments, and paragraph indenting variations.

In this case, your editor does care what the formatting is – it needs to be consistent with the publisher’s submission guidelines – in every.single.chapter.

If you have to strip the formatting and redo it, that is better than getting your submission rejected because your margins changed in width from one inch to two inches then went to half an inch before returning to one inch. While you might not like dealing with the formatting errors, your publisher REALLY doesn’t want to deal with it while uploading to three different types of eBooks, plus juggling the paperback and hardback printing. Which is why manuscripts with this type of problem get rejected early in the submission process. Don’t be in that statistic.

Other posts in the Clean Up series
#1 – Commas
#2 – Double Spaces
#3 – Chapter Headings