*Note that all of this works in Word on a PC, but some of these tips were tested on a Mac and didn't work with the Pages program on that system.
*EDIT: One of my friends knows how to do a lot of these in Pages, and she left her tips about how in the comments. :D I would advise, though, that if you're going to attempt removal of paragraph spaces in Pages, you make a copy of your document and set it aside. Another of my friends had her story deleted when trying to remove paragraph spaces, and Pages wouldn't let her undo it. Having a back-up copy is always a good idea, even when you're not formatting.
Today, I'm going to walk you through how to quickly get rid of double spaces, spaces around paragraphs returns, and tabs. I'll show you how to quickly create paragraph indents so you don't have to use tabs, and as a bonus, if you're formatting a novel for self-publication for paperback, I'll tell you how to get the lines even at the bottom of the pages.
Okay, first of all, let me introduce you to the "show formatting" button. If you click on it, it will show you all of the invisible marks in your manuscript.
If you turn that on, you'll see a dot between each word. Those just represent spaces. But spaces are important! In today's manuscripts, the norm is to have only a single space between each sentence. Some people are used to double spacing, but that comes from back in the days of typerwiters. A super easy way to get rid of double spaces is by using your "find and replace box."
In the "find" box, simply enter two spaces using your space bar. You won't see the spaces, but they will be there. In the "replace" box, enter a single space with your space bar. Then hit "replace all". Hit it again and again until it comes back to tell you it had "0 items found."
Tada! You now have single spaces throughout your document!
There are two other things that are very important when it comes to formatting. First, if you have your "show formatting" button turned on, you'll see a paragraph mark all over the place--this mark just means that you've ended one paragraph and started another.
Now, in every single manuscript I've ever edited or written, there are always, always instances where there are spaces before or after some of the paragraph returns. This can apparently cause issues when you're trying to create an ebook, and they need to be fixed before publication. Fortunately, there's a super easy way to fix these. I recommend fixing the paragraph returns after you're finished with the whole book, once it's been through any edits and changes you want to make. When you're ready to query it, send it to your publisher, or self-publish, then go through these next steps.
First, open your "find and replace box." Then, in the "find" box, you're going to type a space, and then ^p
The ^ can be found on the number 6 of your keypad.
So it will have SPACE^p
In the "replace" box, you're going to type ^p without any spaces. So it will look like this:
Then hit "replace all." Hit it again, and again--you want to hit "replace all" until it tells you "0 items found."
Great! Now you've removed extra spaces in front of a paragraph mark. But, sometimes they also come after a paragraph mark, so you're going to repeat what you did above, but instead of having SPACE^p in the "find" box, you're going to have ^pSPACE in the find box. In the replace box, you will still want just ^p without any spaces.
You'll want to repeat the "replace all" over and over until you have zero items found.
You're almost finished with formatting the extra spaces around paragraph returns! The last thing to do is to put a space before and also a space after the ^p in the "find" box. So it would be SPACE^pSPACE while the "replace" box would still be simply ^p without any spaces.
Repeat, again, doing "replace all" until you get "0" left in the document.
Congratulations, your paragraph returns are as they should be!
Let's move on to tabs. Tabs are a big thing. Whenever you hit the "tab" button on your keyboard, it makes a big space, right? Quite a lot of writers will start a paragraph with a tab mark, and when you have your formatting button turned on, the tabs will look like an arrow every time you use one, like this:
Now, here's the thing about tab marks. If you try to format an ebook--or if your publisher wants to format an ebook--all of the tabs are going to have to go. They can really mess with formatting and publication. You want to get in the habit of not using tab marks. You want to set up your document so it will automatically create a new paragraph every time you hit "enter" on your keyboard. It's best to get used to using indents, not tabs, so you can start new novels by setting up indents and avoid tabs altogether.
However, there's a super fast way to get rid of tabs.
First, open up your "find and replace" box. Then, in the "Find" box, you're going to simply type ^t
In the replace box, you're going to do absolutely nothing. Leave it blank. No spaces, no marks, nothing.
Then hit "replace all." Hit it again, and again--you want to hit "replace all" until it tells you "0 items found." Your tabs are now gone.
Now, if you've used tabs to start new paragraphs, you'll notice that you have no paragraph indents! I'm borrowing the first few paragraphs from my Rising Book 1 novel to show you how this works. Here, we have no paragraph indents.
This is easily fixed. All I'm going to do now is "Select All" of my entire book. (I can push CTRL + A to achieve this.)
So I select all, and then I right click on the document. A box will pop up, and I'll click on "paragraph."
It will open a new box, wherein there will be a tab at the top that says "Indents and Spacing." Underneath that, I'll see something that says "indentation." I ignore the boxes that say "Left, Right, and Special" and focus on the box that says "By". I'll click the arrow up until I get to .3 or .4. I usually opt for .3. Then I'll click "OK" at the bottom.
Voila! Indents have been created, and now every time I hit "enter" to start a new paragraph, it will automatically indent the paragraph, so no tabs are necessary! This is how it will look now:
*Note: The only problem with this is that in "selecting all", every chapter heading and every time I use *** to indicate a scene break, those chapter headings and scene breaks are also indented to .3. If it's supposed to be centered, it's now off center slightly. This will have to be fixed manually. I'll have to go to each chapter heading, click on it, and manually drag the indent arrow over so the chapter heading moves back to the center. See the next few pictures for demonstration.
There! Now there are proper indents!
Bonus tip for formatting for a self-published paperback novel: If you're planning to self-publish a paperback, there's something you can do to your manuscript to make sure that your pages are all perfectly even at the bottom. You just have to turn off the widow/orphan control in your manuscript. To accomplish this, Select All of your manuscript again. Then right click on your text, just like you did above, and once more open the "paragraph" box.
This time, however, you're going to click on the tab at the top that says "Line and Page Breaks."
You'll see some boxes that you can check or uncheck. What you want to do is to check the box that says "widow/orphan control" and the box that says "keep lines together". Then you want to immediately uncheck the boxes so they are blank. No checkmarks in them, no little squares, just empty white boxes. The only reason you want to check them in the first place is to make sure you can see that both boxes are absolutely unselected. It can be hard to tell if you've got all the boxes selected--sometimes they look shaded. So, once you make sure they are completely blank, then click "OK," and your pages should be even along the bottom.
I know it might seem overwhelming, but these tips can help make your manuscript much neater and prep it for beginning stages of publication! I hope you find these tips helpful. :)