Formatting your query letter from Word to an e-mail document can result in all kinds of formatting errors if you just cut and paste. I discussed a few techniques in this post on How to Format an E-mail Query. Having experimented with the issue some more, I’ve found a better way with fewer steps.
Here we go:
I use Google* mail for my queries, because I’ve had the best results there. When you log in to your Gmail account, make sure you have the following settings enabled:
Step 1 Click on Settings*;
Step 2 Scroll down until you reach Outgoing message encoding;
Step 3 Choose Use Unicode (UTF-8) encoding for outgoing messages;
Step 4 Click Save Changes;
Step 5 Click Compose Mail;
Step 6 Check your settings — your default may be what Google calls “Rich formatting,” which gives you a toolbar with bold, italics, etc., followed by a command to covert the e-mail to “Plain Text.” Click on “Plain Text.” You will receive an ominous message that you will lose formatting. Click OK.
Now you’re ready to go to your Word document.
Step 1 Cut and paste everything you want to send with your query into one document. This will be according to the agent’s submission guidelines and will vary from one agent to the next. Usually it will be your query letter, the first five pages of your manuscript, and a brief synopsis.
Step 2 Select all, then click Clear Formatting. You will lose all your paragraph breaks, any underlining, centering, or italics. That is okay, keep the faith.
Step 3 Click File, Save As, then save the document as Plain Text.
Step 4 Close your document and re-open the text file. Insert paragraph breaks where necessary and clean up the document (for example: in some places, the text was still indented at five spaces as if there was a tab).
Your document should be left-aligned with NO underlining, bold, or any cool fonts. Click Select all, then Copy (or Ctrl + C, whichever way is most comfortable for you).
Step 5 Paste the text into the body of your e-mail.
You should see a document with the proper paragraph breaks and no formatting. Send it to several different e-mail addresses and make certain the document displays the same in ALL the different e-mail addresses.
Even when using my former method, I couldn’t get my work e-mail address (GroupWise) to quit stripping the paragraph breaks from my e-mails. This technique fixed that issue. I had a nice clean copy arrive at my GroupWise, Google, and Bellsouth accounts.
I think this will fix any formatting issues some of you have been experiencing when you copy and paste a Word document into an e-mail.
If you have problems, let me know, because maybe we can find a fix!
*Google mail occasionally changes its settings. Please check the comments if you are having difficulty making everything work with these instructions, because some of our readers have shared their problems and solutions.