Friday, September 9, 2011

Formatting Scene Headers

As promised—as if anyone’s as insane as I am about formatting—I shall show you how to make the nice little scenes show up in your Document Map! (if you haven’t read my last post on Chapter Headers, you need to do that first!) Again, this is for MS Word, 03 edition. (I just found out that Scrivener is soon coming out with an edition for PCs—how exciting is that! Thanks Nate!)

Now, go ahead and open your Document Map along with your Styles and Formatting pane. At the bottom of the Formatting pane, from the drop-down menu, click Available formatting. A list of different heading styles should show up.

Place your cursor in the paragraph that starts a new scene and then click Heading 2 (it is likely bold and italicized). This changes that entire paragraph to a heading, but also changes the formatting, which we can easily adjust. At this point, the first words of your new scene will show up in the Document Map under a collapsible Chapter header! Now, highlight the new scene paragraph. You can either adjust the font at the toolbar to Times New Roman, size 12, and unclick bold and italic, or go to Format>Font>and do the same from that dialogue box.

Next, with the paragraph still highlighted: Format>Paragraph>Line spacing>Double, and spacing before and after at 0 pt >OK 

If you like, you can also make the opening paragraph in each chapter a heading—I like to just because I can see it at a glance for navigation. To do this, place your cursor on the first paragraph. In the Formatting pane, click Heading 2 (the one in Times New Roman…). Now it shows up in your Document Map, right under the Chapter. If you had an indentation in the paragraph, it’s gone now, so we have to restore it. Go to Format>Paragraph>Indentation>Special>First Line>.05”>OK. *

When you hit Enter (Return) to begin a new paragraph, you need to format that back to indented, or all subsequent paragraphs will be headers. Simply place your cursor on the next paragraph, In the Formatting pane, click Clear Formatting. Now, go back to Format>Paragraph>Indentation>Special>First Line>.05”>OK. Now, each subsequent paragraph will have a .5” indentation and you won’t have to mess with Tabs. This will also provide you with First line: 0.5” in your Formatting pane, which you can use to adjust any future paragraphs—such as those following a scene, where you’ll want to restore an indent.

If anyone knows a simpler way to do all that, please share!
*If you want to know how to get rid of the bold headings from the Formatting in use, you’ll have to e-mail me. Either way, it won’t interfere with anything)


  1. I just hit backspace to remove the preset indent (that I preset). But I do this during later drafts, when I switch my ms to double space. For some reason, during earlier drafts, I prefer to write single space with a blank line between paragraphs. Later on, I switch it to double space.

  2. Stina, that's a very simple way to remove the indent!

    When I start out, I also write with a single space and then adjust it later, usually at the point when I have committed to the story and plan to see it through. To me, double space says "I'm serious about this work! It is a manuscript!" That's also when I go back and make my chapters and scenes 'headers'!

  3. Yes, please format correctly and DO NOT use tabs to make indents! Many publishers even specify what formatting they require in their submissions guidelines. Tabs for paragraph indents and extra spaces are a no no. The standard is now one space after a sentence, not two.

  4. Hey Karen! I guess I just assume that most visitors here know to check an agent's guidelines, and that most know how to properly format a manuscript.

    Double spacing after a sentence: NO!
    Double line spacing: YES!

    My little obsession with formatting is simply for my own amusement and navigation. I think it could be sent to an agent or publisher with my formatting enhancements without any glitches, but as long as it looks right (barring tabs, lol), it should be fine! :)

  5. Thanks for joining the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Look forward to your first post on October 5. And don't worry, judging from the comments on the first day's posting, everyone was very supportive of one another.

  6. Alex, I'm really looking forward to it! :)

  7. Uhmm, well . . I use a works program - not sure which version - and this tutorial looks the same as what I do in formatting my document.

    Thanks for the effort :)


  8. Donna! LOL--it took me forever to figure out how to get my scenes to show up under the collapsible Chapter Headers! You're much farther ahead of the game than me! :)

  9. Having a background in graphic design where I had to format a gazillion documents for executives who had no idea, I shudder at the use of tabs ;)

  10. Lynda, if it helps your nerves any--I've never been a tabber! Thanks for stopping in! :)

  11. Ohhh even more great info... ahhh the headers drive me nuts...hehe

  12. Tania, I'm full of great--er--well, any rate...