Should A Novel Be Double-Spaced?

If you’re getting your novel ready for publication, whether through a publisher or self-publishing, you might be grappling with one important question: should your novel be double-spaced or single-spaced? Making the wrong choice could have detrimental consequences, such as rejection from publishers or receiving negative reviews. In this article, we will explore the industry standard for spacing novels and why it is essential to adhere to it.

Double-spacing: the industry standard

The majority of publishing houses and editors follow the industry standard of double-spacing for novels. This means that there is extra space between each line of text. While this is the general practice, it’s important to note that some publishers may have different preferences, so it’s always a good idea to review their submission guidelines or ask for their preferred format. Thankfully, most of this information can be easily found online.

Where does this industry standard come from?

The origin of the double-spacing industry standard remains somewhat elusive. While impeccable grammar and spelling have always been expected, the exact reason why novels should be double-spaced is not explicitly clear. Nevertheless, it is crucial to follow established guidelines when formatting your manuscript, especially for your first novel. As you gain more experience, you can be more adventurous and break the rules.

Why is it important to double-space?

Just as writers understand the significance of adhering to grammar and spelling rules, it is equally important to format your work correctly. If you fail to meet the industry standards, publishers, agents, and editors will need to invest time in reformatting your manuscript before they can even start working on it. This means wasted time and potential financial loss for you. Additionally, publishers and literary agents receive numerous manuscripts weekly, and if yours doesn’t align with their formatting standards, it may be promptly dismissed. Always conduct thorough research to ensure your novel is appropriately formatted for the publisher or agent you wish to work with.

Should A Novel Be Double-Spaced?
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What about self-publishing?

Even if you plan to self-publish your novel, it is still crucial to follow the industry standard and double-space your manuscript. Doing so will make the jobs of editors, proofreaders, and typesetters much more straightforward, potentially saving you money in the process. If you submit your novel in an unworkable format, these professionals may charge extra for the time they spend reformatting before they can begin their actual work.

How to double-space your novel

If you’re using Microsoft Word, simply press Ctrl-A (Windows) or Command-A (Mac) to select all the text, and then go to Format > Paragraph > Spacing. Choose the double-space option. In Google Docs, select all the text and navigate to Format > Line spacing. If you’re using a writing program like Scrivener, the formatting is likely done for you when you export your manuscript, but it’s always wise to double-check.

Are there any exceptions?

If your novel is solely for your friends and family to read, you have more flexibility in formatting and can choose whatever spacing option you prefer. However, keep in mind that even they may find it distracting if the formatting deviates from what they are used to or if the text is squashed together in single spacing. Treat beta readers like editors and format your manuscript accordingly.

As for ebooks, novellas, short stories, poetry, flash fiction, blog posts, email newsletters, and essays, the spacing requirements may vary depending on the purpose of the text or the entity to which you are submitting it. It’s always a good idea to consult the style guide of each publication or reach out to the editor, submissions manager, or marketing manager to clarify any doubts you may have.

In conclusion, the answer to whether you should double-space your novel is a resounding yes. However, it’s important to note that not all publishers, agents, and editors follow the same rule. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and review submission guidelines, style guides, and websites. When you format your work appropriately, you can approach professionals with confidence, impressing them with your perfectly formatted manuscript. Remember, at, we strive to provide you with expert advice and insights to help you succeed in your writing journey.