How to Format a Synopsis

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The synopsis of your novel gives the potential agent or publisher information about the plot, theme, characters and the setting of your novel. Formatting is important. It shows the agent or publisher that you've done your homework and it makes your submission easier for them to read.

Things You'll Need

  • Completed manuscript
  • Synopsis
  • Computer
  • Use a one inch margin on the top, bottom and sides. Justify text at the left margin only.

  • Type your name, address, phone number, fax number and e-mail address, each on a separate line single-spaced at the top right margin on the first page of your synopsis.

  • Type the genre of your writing on one line, the number of words on the next line and the word "Synopsis" on the third line single-spaced and place that at the top left margin on the first page.

  • Format the page numbers in the header starting with page two on the second page. This header line is called the "slug line." Start the slug line with your last name, a forward slash, the name of your novel in all caps, another forward slash and the word "Synopsis" on the far left of the header and type the page number on the far right.

  • Center the title of the novel in all caps about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Begin the text of your synopsis four lines below the title. Type the body of the text double-spaced.

  • Type a character's name in all caps the first time you use the character's name in the synopsis. Introduce your main character first.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can type your synopsis single-spaced if you only use one to two pages, however double-spaced type is easier for the potential agent or publisher to read. If you do use single space, make sure to leave a space between each paragraph.
  • A synopsis is your sales pitch, so draw them in quickly.
  • A synopsis can be any length. If the agent or publisher asks for a "brief synopsis" try to make it one or two pages. However, there are no guideline for the length of a synopsis unless it is given by the agent or publisher. Three to five pages is the average that a publisher or agent wants to see.
  • Don't forget to include an ending in your synopsis. A synopsis is a review of your novel, not a lure to get them to read the book. A potential agent or publisher wants to know what happens in the book, including what happens at the end.

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