Formatting Issues

I had another first. I got rejected. No, not a rejection from an agent or publishing house. I got rejected from a contest I entered because of formatting! I entered my second writing contest  and woke up the next morning to an email saying the format was all wrong. The person who emailed me was so nice and wrote a two paragraph explanation on how to fix the formating. They even told me they would fix it for me if I wanted! How nice is that?

What I found amazing was I had never even heard of some of the things in the explanation. Widows and Orphans. What in the world?

“The widow/orphan control in Word is a feature that will prevent single lines of paragraphs from appearing on a separate page from the rest of the prargraph (a widow is the first line of a paragraph left by itself and an orphan is the last line left by itself). The widow/orphan control will automatically keep two lines together on a page, shifting them as necessary when you add or take text awar from the document.” (eHow)

Evidently, in order to have exactly 25 lines per page, you have to turn off the Widows/Orphans control. Sigh….I had to do a little bit of research, but I figured out how to fix it. You go to “Home”, then “Paragraph”, then “Line Breaks”, then uncheck the Widows/Orphans box. Yes, you still have to set the lines as EXACTLY with 25 pt. The funny thing is, I didn’t have the box checked to begin with. Hhhmmm.

Very confusing. And just a tad bit embarrassing! But since there is an extension on the deadline, I am blogging tonight instead of correcting my mistake. I’m also wondering if the first contest I entered last month will find the same problems. Live and learn, I say.

Anyone else have any newbie mistakes that they have made along the way? Anyone? Are you sure you don’t wanna make me feel better?

21 responses to “Formatting Issues”

  1. I. HATE. the windows orphan control. It is the bane of my existence.

    That's all I have to say about it at the moment, ha!


  2. I can't wee why a single line is a big issue… but I don't like seeing orphaned words – it makes me think something has been omitted.


  3. Sherrinda, I wouldn't say I'm a newbie, but I still have tons of formatting issues. I hate it and feel like a dunce sometimes. LOL
    The coordinator sounds super nice. 😉


  4. Never heard of this. Learn something new every day.


  5. Oh dear. You will not live long enough to hear about all my mistakes, my dear!

    Okay, here's one: I bolded and underlined ALL chapter titles in my first book–all 72! Who knew that was a no-no? Like you say, live and learn.

    I'm so glad that editor extended kindness to you, and I'm proud of you for using this as a learning experience.

    Blessed Easter Weekend!


  6. How nice that the contest coordinator helped you learn how to fix the formatting and didn't reject your entry. I find writers to be some of the most generous people I've ever met and could cite numerous examples of ways other writers have helped me.

    If it makes you feel better, Sherrinda, I'd been writing a lot longer than you have before I learned how to have exactly 25 lines per page. 🙂


  7. I have never heard of that! Thanks for telling us about it. I'm glad you get another chance at entering. So great that the person was willing to help you. Good luck!


  8. Sherrinda,
    May the angst, the hope of Good Friday cover this disappointment, dear friend.



  9. You're not alone, sister. That's happeed to me…with t he exact same thing. That darned widow and orphan control.

    Happy Easter girlie!


  10. The first contest I entered was a paper contest, not email. So no correcting the format once you sent it in. But one of the judges flipped my pages over and drew out the WORD drop down menus and showed me exactly how to set the lines at 25 per and the Widows and Orphans and no hyphenate…and quite a few more things!


  11. You schooled me today Sherrinda! I'm bookmarking this post, because I had no clue.

    Happy Easter!


  12. Hi Sherrinda –

    Formatting is a challenge. I just finished re-formatting my first book into one document. I turned off Widows and Orphans and put it on automatic double spacing.

    Now, I find: 1) I didn't do the 25 pt thing. 2) I bolded my chapter numbers. 3) I manually fixed those poor little orphans and probably ruined any good formatting. Argh. Back to the drawing board.

    Susan 🙂


  13. Rejections … so bittersweet sometimes huh?? Yes, formatting mistakes are something I've made timea nd again! 🙂


  14. Eek, No hyphens? Someone said no hyphens. My MS is contaminated with them and ellipses, too. But widows and orphans are a no,no too. And 25 lines a page. How interesting. So I should maybe start making those changes too.


  15. Oh Sherrinda,
    Totally understand. Did you resubmit it?


  16. This is really interesting! When I first started writing, I used widow/orphan, because that was how I was used to doing things. It gradually dawned on me that it just didn't “look right”. I didn't know it had anything to do with having to have exactly 25 lines on a page, though. It just didn't look quite right, so I turned it off. I made other mistakes, like using a font I like better than Times New Roman 12. I've since, rather gradually, corrected these things, but some of this is still a pain.
    Anne G


  17. okay, I have that box checked. Hmmm. And I don't know how to force the 25 lines per page. So, my contest entry is most likely formatted incorrectly as well. yikes.


  18. Heather:

    I believe you can get Word to format to 25 lines per page. There are drop-downs that do this. Never heard of the rule against hyphens, but I don't use them for line breaks. I just set and reset the margins so I get either a whole word at the end of one line or it drops down to the next line, then reformat paragraph indents.

    One note here: I don't use Word that much except when I have to send something in that format, so I don't know all the ins and outs. And I have one of those “For Dummies” books to explain how they're done, if you don't know.
    Anne G


  19. Sorry about your rejection. We do learn so much through these errors we make along the way. I recently was rejected because my entry sounded too much like a testimony and not enough like a story. I guess they were looking for more dialogue. Oh well, next time I'll look at the guidelines more closely.

    Don't worry, we'll get there. . . in His time.
    Their rejeection, His re-direction.


  20. Carla, I love that! HIS re-direction! That is an awesome way to look at it! 🙂 I will definitely remember that!


  21. That's all I have to say about it at the moment
    post free classifieds


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