Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday morning brunch at the Question Emporium: format for pages in a query

When sending 3-5 pages of MS over email, format gets lost. Even with RTF, the headers get lost along with page numbers. Info with web searches don't appear to address this.

You leave out the headers and the page numbers.
You just type the text from the first 3-5 pages into the email, double spaced. No tabs. No indentations. No keyboard shortcuts.


Eric Steinberg said...

First, these questions and answers are helpful.

I do have a followup. I've not had luck double-spacing emails. When querying, I've included my writing samples with the same formatting as the email, single-spaced, no indent with a space between paragraphs.

Could this be a strike against me when agents are reviewing my query? Should I stop doing it this way?


Cindy Dwyer said...

I belong to an online writers' group where we only submit via email - no attachments. So clean text is very important.

First, copy and paste your 3 to 5 pages into a new Word document. Then alter the format per the submission guidelines - some want double spacing, no indents, some want single spaced paragraphs with an extra line in between each one, etc.

Then google "Jonathan Hedley convert word to text." The link you should look for will include "" (I figured links might be blocked here!)

You'll see two boxes. Copy and paste your 3-5 pages into the top box. Hit the "clean" button. Your original text will be stripped of all formatting and will appear as plain text in the bottom box. Copy and paste that version into your email.

I don't know this man, but he created this and offers it free to use. He deserves a huge gold star!

Colin Smith said...

May I offer a suggestion to Windows users? If you don't want to re-type your pages into the e-mail, but you want to be sure copy-and-paste doesn't pick up unwanted formatting from Word (or whatever you're using), copy-and-paste to Notepad first. Perhaps to be double-sure, save your text in Notepad as a .txt file. Then make any changes you need to in terms of double spacing, removing indents, etc. Then copy-and-paste from Notepad into the e-mail.

That usually does the trick for me.

Janet Reid said...

Eric, you're sending a Big Block o'Text that is close to impossible to read.

Pamela Pabst said...

Ugh! I didn't mean to delete the prior comment. I was trying to tell you thanks for addressing my question so quickly. You rock!

T.D. Hart said...

When I query, I send a 'test' email to myself first. The copy/pasted pages (some agents want to see the first THREE chapters with query) seem to transfer appropriately--albeit minus headers and page numbers.

Are you saying that format doesn't correlate to what an agent receives in her inbox? Well, crap.

Thanks for the advice on Notepad and the conversion website. I'm sure there is an agent somewhere who thanks you, as well.


Janet Reid said...

TD, Try sending the email to someone else, preferably with a different email platform as well. You'd be surprised what you might find.

Ellipsis Flood said...

So it would be safest to send plain text. What about umlauts and other special characters?

Anonymous said...

Your best friend in Word programs is "Paste Special." It's one of the choices under the "Paste" command for Outlook Mail. I don't know if other mail programs have this.

You copy Word text, and use "Paste Special" to paste it as "unformatted text." Then you can easily clean up the result in your Mail window (like restoring italics and line spacing) without sneaky invisible Word stuff messing up your e-mail.