Page Numbers

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 20 2007

Do you know what’s worse than dropping an entire manuscript all over your floor? Going to pick it up, only to discover that the author didn’t put page numbers on it. It’s a weird and little-discussed phenomena, but editors and agents hate to receive manuscripts, proposals, synopsis, anything without page numbers. It just makes our lives harder.

So please, always remember to number your pages, especially if you are emailing anything.


13 responses to “Page Numbers”

  1. I would imagine it stinks even when the pages ARE numbered, but without them… Ack! That’s like 300-page pick-up. (The more warped and sinister version of 52-card pick-up.)

    Is it an auto-reject when you drop a manuscript and the pages aren’t numbered? I’d be so irritated, if I were you, I wouldn’t blame you.

  2. Avatar Bernita says:

    Ah, at least there’s one mistake I haven’t made.

  3. Avatar sam says:

    How can you possibly put it back together?
    That’s one of those things that would be a Darwin award for writers.

  4. Avatar Kimber An says:

    I wonder if writers know the computer will number the pages for them if ordered to do so?

  5. Avatar Lesley says:

    Good grief! I bet if you tried to put it back together you could get some really bizarre scene transitions.

    “She leaned against the wall as he kissed her…”

    “…steak. It was delicious. The best meal she’d had in months.”

    Yeah, page numbering is not that difficult! If you’re in Word just click Insert, Page Numbers. Eeek…I’m on spring break and the technical writer in me just reared her ugly head!

  6. Avatar Anonymous says:

    This seems related to your post on SASEs. How many times does it need to appear on an agent’s website that SASEs, numbered pages, no ‘all’ justification, and double spacing are a good thing? It’s interesting that so many writers can’t read or take the agent’s job seriously.

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I set up an automatic header with my last name, title and page number to appear on every page.

    One of my writer friends submitted a short story to a pub, and they lost her cover sheet with her contact information. Since they wanted to publish her story, the editor Googled her name (which appeared in the header of her ms), and tracked her down. Think of what would have happened if she’d left her name off her manuscript.

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    It’s wrong to snicker at the mental images that my imagination is offering up as the impetus for this post – but I can’t help it.

    But in addition to being a little warped and heartless, I’m also curious. Why is it more important to make sure the page numbers are there when emailing?


  9. Avatar Mark Terry says:

    I’m pretty sure you’d agree that each page should be numbered, have a header with name and some version of the title on it.

    I tend to view this as written in stone, but at the least, you can’t go wrong with:

    1-inch margins all around
    sequential page number (I prefer top center)
    header with name and title (I prefer Terry/The Serpent’s Kiss, for instance)
    12-point font (I prefer Times New Roman but have been playing around with Courier, which gives you far more pages for some reason)

    Easy basics. I just wonder: how does an author handle rewrites without page numbers? Weird.

  10. Avatar Judy Schneider says:

    I’m hoping the lack of page numbers was an oversight on the writer’s part. Perhaps she was so excited to receive a request for a full manuscript that she forgot to repaginate after merging all the separate chapter documents, or something.

    I enjoyed your transition scenario, Lesley. It’s like flipping channels with the remote.

    “So easy a caveman can…”

    “…wardrobe malfunction…”

  11. Avatar jfaust says:


    I think it felt more important with emailing when I wrote this because I was printing out an emailed copy and it printed backward and fell off the printer and was a total mess.

    I also find that, in general, emailed submissions (when and only when requested) tend to have the most formatting errors–no page numbers, single-spaced, etc).


  12. Jessica,

    Do you ask your clients to email the manuscripts in .rtf format? Instead of .doc, for Word, anyway. Saving to RTF format before emailing the document preserves formatting that email .doc documents might not.


  13. Avatar Anonymous says:

    LOL, this post made me double check to see if page numbers were on the submission I sent to you.

    Luckily — they were!

    Breathing again.