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Detailed Submission Guidelines

  • December 18, 2012 10:12 PM PST

    I have been seeing submission guidelines that reference "industry standard" but I have not been able to locate information as to what that standard is.  In one place I found that manuscripts should be in Times New Roman 12 point font, in another that it should be double spaced.  One of my friends who publishes an online magazine says that there should be only one space after a period; in one of the seminars I went to 3 years ago I was told it should be 2 spaces.  Can anyone tell me where I would find this information, or how I should search?

    • 8 posts
    December 19, 2012 6:37 AM PST

    Hello Varina,


    The basic industry standards are:


    One inch margins and double spaced text with a half-inch indentation ( or five spaces ) at the beginning of each paragraph, and no extra space after a paragraph. The line spacing should appear uniform throughout unless you have an extra break for a hiatus or scene change, in which case you use a space, then a "#" alone on a line and another line space as a separator. It is usually also acceptable to double space twice and leave out the #.

    Text is always aligned left, ( also known as 'ragged right' ). When a manuscript is published, the typsetting will adjust for the uniform layout your are used to seeing in printed material.

    The font should be a standard 12 point monopoint font - Times New Roman is always a safe font, though others use Courier New as well.

    Your first page has no header, but should include your name, address, phone number and email in the upper left corner. In the upper right corner include your approximate word count.

    1/3 down the page centered and all in caps should be your title. Then a double space, then the word "by" and double spadced under that your name.

    Double space again and start your manuscript.

    On the rest of your manuscript pages you should have your title in the upper left corner followed by your name. Example:


    My Amazing Story / August Chapman


    In the upper right is your page count.

    Regarding the one or two spaces after a period:

    The double spacing convention seems to go back to the days of the manual typewriter.  The current standard seems to be only one space after a period, and the current Chicago Manual of Style has reverted to recommending one space after a period as well.

    That said, of the over 30 stories I had published, all were submitted with double spacing after the period and no editor ever made a negative comment.  

    There is a definite tendency to overthink the less significant details. If you are submitting to a major publishing house, defininitely search for a style sheet that defines exactly how they want their material.

    I have been told by many editors that many manuscripts that reach the slush pile and go promptly to the rejection pile do so because they fail to address the basics of manuscript format - wrong margins, wrong font, single-spaced text with uniform margins, and so on. Not one ever mentioned tossing a manuscript because of double spacing after a period, or because a writer used or didn't use italics in the title of their work in the header of the manuscript.

    If you use Microsoft Word, you can usually find manuscript templates that can be downloaded, or once you create the correct format with the different header for the first and subsequent pages, just save it as your own template.

    This post was edited by August Chapman at December 19, 2012 6:38 AM PST
    • 1 posts
    August 29, 2013 6:45 PM PDT
    I have a small decorative item in keeping with my theme on the top of each page. When the scene has a definite geographical change, I separated the paragraphs with the same decorative item, e.g.


    Centered at the bottom is the page #

    Page 123

    Do you believe this to be acceptable?
    • 2 posts
    October 27, 2014 11:44 PM PDT

    This was very helpful information. Thank you.

    • 8 posts
    October 28, 2014 1:32 PM PDT

    I am working on extending this  post to include email submissions, for when agents request the sample pages attached as a document ( easy ) to when they want the pages pasted into the email itself ( a little more detailed ).


    • 2 posts
    October 28, 2014 7:55 PM PDT

    I look forward to reading it. Being brand new at this, I can use all the help I can get.