Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Manuscript Format for Short Stories

I've just submitted a short story online not an hour ago.

I won't say which publication I submitted it to, the name of the story, or even what colour shirt I have on. (The Carter's have always been known to be a cagey bunch.)

What I will talk about here is what I've learned through grappling with Manuscript Format. This is just a general guideline, and I hope it's concise enough to useful for anyone who stumbles across my blog.

Have a look at a snippet of my story.

Lawns are riveting, I know.

  1. The header should contain the author's name, an element of the title, and the page number. It should be centered in the top right-hand corner. It is present on every page, except the first one.
  2. The margins of all four sides of the page should be indented by three cm. 
  3. The entire story should be double-spaced, and every paragraph and line of dialogue indented 1.27 cm (or 0.5 inches.) There shouldn't be extra spaces in between paragraphs. 
  4. Scene changes are shown with a centered "#" symbol.
  5. End the story by writing "End," and have it centered.
  6. The font should be Courier or Courier New, size 12, and italicized text should not be italicized, but underlined.  
  7. The body of the story should be aligned to the left. (Why? I'm not sure. Centering text, or "Justified" text looks better to my blue eyes, but whatever.)

Here's What the first page should look like. The story starts two lines underneath the author byline.

There's no header/page number on the first page.

...And here it is if you'd like to copy/paste it. Remember: Courier New and size 12 font.

{Author Name}                                      about 100 words
{Street Address}
{City and Postal Code}
{Phone Number}
{Email Address}

{Story Title}
by {Author Byline}
     Begin text here.

Some publications require you to list elements like the genre and word count in the top left-hand corner of the first page. Check with the publication to see what the submission guidelines are.

Most publications require a cover letter. These are meant to be short and formal. (If you happen to know the editor's name, don't begin the letter with something like "Greggy, baby.")

Here's the format I followed for mine:

Christopher Rafal Carter
City, State, Zip
Email Address
Word Count

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Christopher Carter.

Please find attached with this cover letter a copy of my GENRE short story, “I’m Not Actually Putting The Title Here Because This Is An Example Post For My Blog.” (I realize that the wording on this title seems a bit clunky, but I think it works.)

Thank you for your time and consideration.



 ...And that's pretty much it.

Honestly, I'm an amateur writer whose dream it is to master this craft. If you'd like to add or comment on anything I've posted here, I'd appreciate it.

Until then, keep well!


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