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Very useful information.


I would have used non-proportional Courier. Thanks to your excellent guidelines, I won't make that mistake. Thank you!


Opinions seem to vary about Courier, some agents do recommend it.

I guess the most important thing is, if a publisher has issued guidelines, you should follow them to the letter, if not Times New Roman is probaly the safest bet.


Lacking specific guidelines, how important is it to use non-proportional type, especially in preparing a manuscript for submission to prospective agents?

Crawford Kilian

Rod, unless a publisher specifies a particular font, proportional or not, don't worry about it. The important thing about the manuscript font is that it be readable and correctable by the editor (otherwise known as She Who Must Be Obeyed). So unless your editor has a particular preference, go for a readable serif proportional font like Times New Roman.

Bill Peschel

Thank you for the advice. I'm polishing the ms. for my fourth novel -- the first that might have a chance of selling -- and found your site through Google.

What about if you desire to put some visuals(an example of a elven script)on your fictional manuscript

Crawford Kilian

You could certainly insert such "text" as a graphic. If you're going to use a lot of it, you'll probably end up with Tolkienesque appendices including alphabets, glossaries, etc.

But think about the kind of symbolic function that "elves" are playing in your story, and design their languages and scripts accordingly.

Better yet, don't call them elves—give them a name of their own, and traits that set them apart from ordinary humans both behaviorally and symbolically. No pointy ears!

What should the cover page look like on a ms.?

Very simple:
by Your Name
Your Postal Address
Your Email and Phone

Your Agent's Name and Address (if you have one)

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Some of My Books

  • : The Fall of the Republic

    The Fall of the Republic
    In a parallel timeline, 1990s America discovers the chronoplanes: parallel worlds at different points in history.

  • : Rogue Emperor

    Rogue Emperor
    The hijacking of the Roman Empire, 100 AD, by 21st-century Christian fundamentalists, in the second of the Chronoplane Wars novels.

  • : The Empire of Time

    The Empire of Time
    My first novel, published in 1978, but the last in the Chronoplane Wars trilogy.

  • : Gryphon

    "Write a space opera," my editor said. So I did, with some nanotech thrown in.

  • : Tsunami

    A companion novel to Icequake, set mostly in California.

  • : Icequake

    A disaster thriller (Antarctic ice sheet surges into ocean), dated but still fun.

  • : Eyas

    Originally published in 1982, and still the novel I'm most proud of.

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