12. What is The Best Method of Final Manuscript Clean-Up?

The Best Method of Manuscript Clean-Up

Now that you have removed stray spacing, extra paragraphs, and extra page breaks, your manuscript probably looks good and you think it's ready to go.

That may be true... but, for most manuscripts there is still more that can be done to make your book beautiful.

These final steps require a bit more decision-making on your part, so, the paragraphs below,  I'll describe each method and the good and the not so good of each method.

My experience suggests that it is best to use every possible method, but if you have done a lot of formatting, you will probably be reluctant to do that.

1. Return All Styles to Normal Style

Select your entire file with CTRL-A, then apply your default Style.

This returns all Styles to the default Style (usually Normal) leaving all "manual" or "direct" formatting untouched.

This will remove all your MS Word Styles, such as Chapter Headings.

It will NOT remove "direct" formatting, such as "bold" (which you formatted with CTRL-B) and "italics" (which you formatted with CTRL-I).

It also won't remove certain formatting that you can't see.

Don't overlook the importance of that last statement:

It also won't remove certain formatting that you can't see.

You might think if you can't see it, it can't hurt anything, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Unseen--or "hidden" formatting--is one of the biggest causes of poorly-formatted ebooks.

It isn't "Word bloat", as some would have you believe. Your file may have bloat, but the Kindle software knows to ignore it.

Much of the danger comes from formatting that conflicts from the proper format can't be seen for one reason or another.

A typo that was corrected using the wrong font is one example.

I once had a customer file with this kind of hidden error.

The manuscript was done in Times New Roman font, but typos had been corrected in Times font.... and the different font was invisible in the manuscript.
When the ebook was published, the different fonts made the text look ugly.
Another method of cleanup is:
Clear Formatting

This method clears all formatting, including bold and italics, but does not remove pictures and page breaks.

With some Word Processors, including MS Word, a "Clear All" command is available from the Menu.

Some other Word Processors, one being Atlantis, do not have a single command to "clear all", but, instead, have two commands:

Remove Paragraph Formatting with CTRL-Q

Remove Character Formatting with CTRL-SPACEBAR

The third method of clean up is:

The Nuclear Option

You can select your entire manuscript with CTRL-A, copy it to NotePad, then copy it back in.

This clears out ALL old formatting, including pictures and page breaks, with what Mark Coker calls the Nuclear Option.

You must make the decision as to which of the above is best for your file.

But none of those will get rid of such things as extra spaces and extra paragraph returns, and extra tabs that we put in by hand to format our document … and it won’t get rid of stray spaces, periods, and commas, that we, or an editor, left in by accident.

We will have to go through and take out all that extra stuff the same way we put it in … by hand.


  1. does this refer to working within Atlantis or just in Word? Thanks!

  2. Dixie,

    This was written for MS Word, but, most of what is here also applies to Atlantis....

    But the first thing to do is to run Auto correct under Atlantis Tools.

    That will get rid of most problems, then check here to see if anything got past Atlantis.