How to Set Up MS Word for Writing a Novel

By Flora Richards-Gustafson

When you have decided to take up the challenge of writing a novel, you must get your manuscript into electronic format. Microsoft Word is a word processing program that allows writers to get their novel one step closer to being a published work. Microsoft Word helps users edit their work for grammar and spelling, insert footnotes, adjust the page layout and so on. If you are writing for a specific publisher, set up Microsoft Word according to its standards. If not, set up Word in a manner that will help make the writing process easier.

Step 1

Make sure the page settings are correct. When you open a new document in Microsoft Word 2007, go to the “Page Layout” tab and make sure you are typing on “Letter”-sized paper (8.5- by 11-inch paper). Also, make sure you have the margins set to 1 inch each and the lines are double-spaced. Doing this will create sufficient room for an editor to write notes on each page.

Step 2

Select a traditional, easy-to-read font. Use a font such as Courier New or New Times Roman. While fancy fonts look nice, they are harder to read and will make the editing process slower.

Step 3

Insert page numbers. Page numbers allow the writer, editor and other readers to reference a section of a novel quickly. Click on the “Insert” tab in Microsoft Word 2007, and then select “Page Number.” A small menu will appear that will give you page number placement options. Choose the option labeled "Bottom of Page," which allows you to place the page number in the corner of the page so it is more visible when flipping through the printed novel.

Step 4

Set up the “Header” and “Footer.” Click on the “Insert” tab in Word, and then click on “Header” or “Footer.” Click on the appropriate options to have different headers or footers on the odd and even pages, and to have a header and/or footer on the first page. Good items to place in the header or footer of a novel are the name of the work and the name of the chapter. If you are not sure what you want in these sections, look at a few of your favorite novels to get ideas.

Step 5

Save your work.

Step 6

Create a new document for your table of contents. Having the table of contents separate from the rest of the novel will help you access it more quickly instead of having to scroll through the whole document to access it. Use the page settings you created for the novel for the table of contents so all the parts of your work are uniform.