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How To Format A Poetry Chapbook For Submission To A Publisher In Ms Word
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How to Format A Poetry Chapbook for Submission to A Publisher In Ms Word

Contests and calls for submission from publishers are always asking poets to send them a chapbook. For many new poets, answering the call for submissions can be a trial. I have managed to submit one poetry chapbook for publication by a publisher, and self-published four other chapbooks of poems via Kinkos and another printer. If you work with a printer that can print double-sided, color from a single file, that is awesome. My experience is that publishers don’t want a fancy cover. If you self-publish, you may want your cover data in a separate file for printing on card stock with a color printer (cost is extra).

Step One: Collect Sixteen Poems on a Single Topic or in Similar Voice

The easiest way to do this is to have a paper copy of your poems and sort them into piles, or write one or more codes such as nature, humor, sarcastic, love, death etc. on the paper. Once you have all of your poems selected, check to see that none of the poems is longer than 30 lines because a poem longer than thirty lines counts as two pages of poems. Don’t send more pages of poems than the maximum asked for by the contest or publisher.

Step Two: Create a New File for the Poetry Chapbook

Select open, new, and provide a name from the MS Word File Menu.

Step Three: Cut and Paste Individual Poems into the Poetry Chapbook File

Open each of the individual poems files, click copy, then click onto the Poetry Chapbook file and click paste.

Step Four: Format the Poetry Text with a Similar Paragraph Format and Text Font

Format all of your poems by clicking Select all from the menu on the far right of the Home toolbar. Then click on the Paragraph tab, set the paragraph line spacing to single line, with 0s in all the before and after spacing squares. Then with all the text still selected, click the font tab. Choose a single font either Courier New, Times New Roman or other suggested font from the publisher. Set the font size to 12.

Step Five: Format the Paging of the Poetry Collection

Check that each poem starts at the top of the page. At the end of the page, put a page break. If a poem splits onto a second or third page, add a title similar to the first poem and add “(continued)” after the title.

Step Six: Format the Title of Every Poem

Return to the top of the file and select the title of the first poem. Click Heading 1 or Heading 2 as the style for the title (both will work in the table of contents). Depending on the style, you might want to:

a) Click font, and then uppercase to force all the letters to be in uppercase letters.

b) Click font, and then bold to make the title stand out more on the page

Do this for each of the poems in the collection. You may have to adjust your paging again, since some poems may split over two pages. If that happens, you may want to adjust your font sizes.

Step Seven: Insert Header and Trailer Information as Desired

Click the Insert Tab, then Click Edit Header.

A popular header used is Author Last Name / Title / Page Number that is either right or left aligned. Page number is added by clicking the Page Number and selecting current position, simple. Format your header with the same font and text size as the rest of the text. Remember, contest submissions don’t use Author Name on them. If your poems are short, you may want your page number in a Footer instead.

Step Eight: Insert a Table of Contents before the First Poem in the Poetry Chapbook

Click on the references tab, then Table of Contents, choosing the style you prefer.

Format the Table of Contents to be consistent with your poems.

Step Nine: Create a Cover Page

Insert a page break before the table of contents, then add a Cover Page with the name of your Chapbook, by Author Name on the line below. Only use the author’s name if it is not a contest. Follow the instructions of the publisher for putting contact information such as author name, address, phone number, email address on the cover page.

You may want to select the page layout tab and click on Page Setup and click on different first page. If self-publishing, you may want the cover in a separate file, with a picture inserted below the title and the author name below the picture.

Step Ten: Create Additional Pages as Desired

Popular additional pages include:

a) an acknowledgement page with “Thanks to Publisher A for the publication of poem A” and thanks to people who provided critique or edited your poems

b) a dedication page, i.e. to my dearest husband

c) an about the author page (often on the inside page of the back cover)

d) spare white pages so that the first poem starts on the right hand side of the page

To Finish, Test the Printing of the Chapbook in the Proper Page Style and with double-sided pages (more work than you might expect. Don’t start the day before the contest is due.

Street Talk

i like this article Sheri

  about 8 years ago

I have tried my hand at poetry, I did not think I was very good at

  about 8 years ago
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