Basics of writingFormatting

Formatting your novel with Styles—Part 4: using your new template

From Rick:

It occurred to me after doing Part 3 that I didn’t show you how to use your new template. It’s pretty easy, actually, but there are a couple of cautions to be aware of. This will be a very short post.

You won’t have any problems if you start with a new document using the template. You simply select the Style you want to use at any given point. Most of the time you will be using the Normal Style. Let’s say you’re starting a new novel. On the first page, type your title (or working title), highlight the text in the title, then click the Title Style. On the next line you can type your author name, highlight that, and select a Style created for that (I usually use Subtitle Style or that, something a smaller point type than Title).

For your first chapter, go to a new page. You can hold CTRL and press to create a page break or go to the Insert tab and select Page Break. Select the Style for Chapter, type the chapter designation (like Chapter One or Chapter 1) and press . Because we set this Style (and most of the Styles) to automatically revert to Normal after pressing , you can now begin typing your chapter contents.

If you want to enter a scene break, go to a new line, select the Style for Scene Break, and type the character or characters you use for your scene break designation. Or you can type first, highlight the scene break, and select the Style.

Alternatively, you can forget about the Styles as you type and go back later to search for your scene break, highlight, and set the Style.

Now, I want offer words of advice. Let’s say you already typed out a chapter (or a whole manuscript) in another template, such as Word’s default Normal.dotm and you want to put this into your template.

The safest way to accomplish this is to highlight the text in your original document, open a blank document with your template, and paste using either the “Use Destination Theme” or “Merge Formatting” option. The paste menu choices will let you pick from several choices. Do not use CTRL V to paste or you might end up with wrong results.

If all went well, you will have copied your manuscript into your template, where you can now change formatting as needed. Remember that you can always modify any given Style at any time.

I do want to point out that it’s not a good idea to try to modify someone else’s existing template for your own purposes. I’ve seen cases where things go awry. That’s why I suggest starting your own from scratch. That way you’re sure of what you’ve got.

As I pointed out previously, I like to use 1.5 or 2.0 line spacing while I’m writing the story (because it’s easier to read), then change to the appropriate spacing for Normal in the final manuscript.

There’s a lot I haven’t covered on Styles, but hopefully this will get you started, and probably for most of you it will be sufficient unless you’re doing a more complex book (like Punctuation for Fiction Writers) that needs many more Styles.


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