Un-doped and Mn-doped ZnO nanoparticles were successfully synthesized in an ethanolic solution by using a sol-gel method. Material properties of the samples dependence on preparation conditions and Mn concentrations were investigated while other parameters were controlled to ensure reproducibility. It was observed that the structural properties, particle size, band gap, photoluminescence intensity and wavelength of maximum intensity were influenced by the amount of Mn ions present in the precursor. The XRD spectra for ZnO nanoparticles show the entire peaks corresponding to the various planes of wurtzite ZnO, indicating a single phase. The diffraction peaks of doped samples are slightly shifted to lower angles with an increase in the Mn ion concentration, signifying the expansion of the lattice constants and increase in the band gap of ZnO. All the samples show the absorption in the visible region. The absorbance spectra show that the excitonic absorption peak shifts towards the lower wavelength side with the Mn-doped ZnO nanoparticles. The PL spectra of undoped ZnO consist of UV emission at 388 nm and broad visible emission at 560 nm with varying relative peak intensities. The doping of ZnO with Mn quenches significantly the green emission while UV luminescence is slightly affected.