Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to Format a Magazine Submission in 15 Steps


Lately, I’ve been working on submitting some of my short stories to different magazines. I thought that it would be pretty easy. Write and edit the story, send the document to a magazine, then wait for a response. But, just like everything else in the writing world, it didn’t end up being this simple. After reading the submission guidelines for a few magazines, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about how to format a document correctly. Apparently, formatting goes beyond putting the font at 12 pt. Times New Roman and double spacing the manuscript. After this discovery, I went and talked to my most knowledgeable friend, Google. Here is what I found, split up into 15 steps:
  1. Always type your document out. No matter how pretty you think your penmanship is, never submit a handwritten document.
  2. Use an easily readable 12 pt font. Times New Romans or Courier are the safest. Use the same font throughout the entire manuscript. Always use solid black text against a white background. Never, ever break these rules! Why? Honestly, I wouldn’t bother reading an entire story formatted like this. Would you?
  3. If you are printing out your submission rather than submitting it electronically, use paper of good-quality and only print on one side.
  4. Put your real first and last name and all contact information (address, e-mail, and phone), at the top left hand corner of the first page. Put the word count at the top right corner.
  5. Half-way down the first page, center the title of your story in all caps. Underneath the title, put ‘by [insert name here].’ If you are writing under a pseudonym, you can put that name here, but your real name must be at the top left hand corner. Start your story on a new line beneath your name/pen name.
  6. Put your name and page number as a right-justified header on all pages except the first one. It should look like this: ‘Your name/Page Number.’ You can include the story title – in all caps – between your name and page number if you like.
  7. Left-justify your paragraphs. This will make the right edges ‘jagged,’ but that is alright.
  8. Your page margin must always be 1-inch all around. This makes it easier to read and gives the editor a place to make notes, if it is a physical submission.
  9. Double-space all text, but not the contact information or word-count at the top of the page.
  10. Do not insert extra space between paragraphs, but do indent the first sentence of each paragraph.
  11. Put a single space between sentences after periods.
  12. If you want to show a scene-break, put a blank like, then a centered hashtag (#), then another blank line. Continue the story from there, with an indent.
  13. Do not use italics or bold. If you absolutely must emphasize a word, do so by underlining it. Generally, though, your writing should not need the help of unusual formatting in order to make a thought stand out.
  14. Center the word ‘End’ or ‘The End’ on its own line when the story is finished. This is to show that no additional pages have been left off accidentally.
  15. If you are submitting on paper, don’t staple your pages, use paper clips, ribbon, or anything like that. Do not fold your paper and avoid wrinkling it.
Please keep in mind that this is the standard manuscript formatting type. However, always, I repeat, ALWAYS, read through the submission guidelines. Their instructions should always override anything you have ever read from any other site. Most editors will not read stories if they are not formatted to fit their specific guidelines, so follow their instructions to the T. However, if the guidelines are vague, which seems to happen quite often, then be safe and use this formatting.

Have any questions? Comment below and I'd be happy to clarify! Best of luck on your magazine publishing and please don't forget to stop by and tell me how it goes!
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