re: Are There “Musts” When It Comes to Formatting a Synopsis?

in Formatting/Punctuation/Grammar by

Dear Editor…

What format should the novel synopsis take? I’ve seen advice on CONTENT but not format – such as double-space? Margins? Is there an industry standard?

Many thanks!
Jeanne

Dear Jeanne…

Writers hear the admonition “double space your manuscript” so often that my answer to your question may feel as if I’m forcing you to rub a cat the wrong way: single space your synopsis. Yep, that’s the industry standard. Use a 12-point font that’s professional and legible, such as Times New Roman, and surround the text with one-inch margins. Limit your synopsis to three pages—although, if you can pull it off, two is best. The goal of a synopsis, after all, is to be informative without being overwhelming. Tuck your name, contact info, and project info into the upper left corner of the first page, type the word “Synopsis” in the top center, and then list your name, the title, and the page number in the upper right corner of subsequent pages. Above all, resist the urge to shrink your font size in order to squeeze your synopsis onto three pages. Reading three pages of single-spaced, 11-point copy can be painful. Cut content, not point size.

Happy writing!
The Editor

6 Comments

  1. Great advice. Of course, if an agent or editor gives specific guidelines on their website, you want to follow those. I’ve seen more and more agents who want a one-page synopsis,and I had one editor request a double-spaced synopsis.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. Indeed, agents and editors/houses may have individual preferences. Always check the website for submission guidelines before sending to an agency or publisher.

      • Exactly. I recall a few that want one page, which I find terribly difficult to do. That said, I’d give anything to be writing a synopsis now. Still have to finish the darn book. 🙂

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