Manuscript Formatting

SMFSome editors like to read in Times New Roman (or equivalent). Others prefer Courier. Virtually all of them want 12pt, and virtually all of them want double-spaced, single-sided. What they want is usually specified clearly, though in various levels of detail, in the guidelines.

Some go to great lengths to specify every formatting detail; some—those with an automated manuscript processing system—leave a lot of leeway. A lot of them just ask for Standard Manuscript Formatting; in fact, so many of the editors and markets out there want SMF that you’d do well to write any new story in SMF format. Prepare a template* that matches the specifications of SMF, and you’ll have most formatting guidelines covered.

But any editor may have their own specific formatting demands, and these might change over time, like editors change over time. So any time you submit a story, be sure to check the guidelines, even if you’ve submitted to the same market countless times before.

“But wait,” I hear you ask. “Does that mean I have to check the formatting of my story, and reformat it if necessary, every time I submit it?”

* A conveniently pre-formatted Microsoft Word template is available for download here.

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