One size fits none

One concern in the process of creating a story an editor will choose to publish (and hopefully pay one for) is formatting. If it's not easy to read, they won't. Most have a very specific set of parameters. Everyone seems to think their way is the not just the best way, but the only way things should be done. In writing, this is called -with tongue firmly in cheek, I hope- "Standard Manuscript Format" (or "SMF".)

As one might gather from my introduction to this subject, there is no such thing as SMF. Some editors require monospaced fonts like Courier. Others despise Courier so much, they refuse to read anything which looks like you tapped it up using an old school typewriter. Some want extra lines between paragraphs, single, double, 1.5 linespacing. Some need two spaces after a period, others, only one. Mysteriously in this day and age, perhaps to force you to make _really_ sure you want to send your story, some places still refuse to take email submissions. Some accept only certain file formats -which makes sense, as how much do you want to spend your time converting files across a bunch of arcane programs and risk not even being able to read the result due to translation issues? Or at the very least, scragging the formatting?

What's the same? Generally, the one inch margins all around and... um... that's really it, that's the 'standard' guideline. The bottom line? Read the directions carefully. Read them again. Format your story, then go back and read the parameters again. If someone's particular about formatting -or anything else, really- it's their responsibility to tell you how they want it. Nowadays, there are many online guides. In my limited experience, rather than writing out their requirements, unless they're a bit out there, the editors will give you a link to which set of guidelines they prefer.

If they order their steak well done, don't send the thing in bleeding. That's the surest way to get your manuscript back without being considered and without a hope of feedback, which is also known as the silver lining of rejection.


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