Chapter Titles V. Chapter Numbers

Dear Heather…

Numbers are fine. Only some storytelling styles lend themselves to chapter titles, and agents/editors know that. Karen Cushman’s The Ballad of Lucy Whipple uses everything—chapter numbers, titles, and subtitles: “Chapter One – Summer 1849 – In which I come to California, fall down a hill, and vow to be miserable there.” If chapter titles aren’t right for your style, use numbers in the manuscript to signal the chapter breaks and then you, your editor, and your book designer will decide later on whether to use numbers or symbols (or nothing at all!) for the final bound book.

Happy writing!

The Editor


  1. Glad to hear it! I used to put chapter titles in, then decided I didn’t like them. I dislike seeing them in books or other writers’ manuscripts because they can give too much of a hint about what will happen in the chapter. Oh THANK you for mentioning The Ballad of Lucy Whipple! I couldn’t remember the name of that book, and I love it. I have fond memories of reading it aloud by flashlight to my daughters and hubby when we went camping. 🙂

    • Happy to remind you, Carol. The Ballad of Lucy Whipple is a favorite of mine. I rarely reread anything (alas, such little time), but I’ve read that book dozens of times. Sometimes I just mean to peek into it for a moment but then get caught up and can’t put it down.

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