Despite the outdated advice clinging to the world wide web (you know, the Internet), paper submissions are no longer widely accepted. Here are the last known formatting standards for them, just in case you come across a publisher who asks you to mail your story through the post office.
- Use black type on white paper.
- Print only on one side of the page.
- Use Courier or Times New Roman for the font. *
- When using Courier, double-space after sentence-ending periods (a.k.a. full stops).
- Yes, it looks old-fashioned, but Courier is a mono-spaced font, which means seeing sentence breaks is hard without the extra space.
- Don’t do this when instructed to use proportional fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial.
- Underline words that you want italicized in its final form. Italics are notoriously hard to for readers and typesetters (with print publications) to see in the middle of the night of the night after five cups of coffee.
- Optional but recommended for paper publishing: Use the printer’s standard for your word count in the top right corner. See SFWA’s explanation of word counts.
- Type “THE END” in all caps when your story ends within a few lines of a page edge. This helps reassure the slush readers and editors that a page isn’t missing.
- Use a paper clip in the top left corner to attach pages together. Butterfly clamps are handy for stories longer than ten pages.
- Don’t use a separate cover or title page. *
- Don’t mail an electronic copy with your manuscript. *
* Unless the publisher instructs otherwise.
Remember that the publisher’s instructions. You can always ask the editor in charge of submissions for more specifics.
Is this page not what you’re looking for? See the Short Story Submissions Guide to Formatting.