Proper Manuscript Format for Submitting short Fiction & Creative nonfiction

In 1993, science fiction writer William Shunn created a document that explains how and why to format your manuscript when submitting it to magazines and journals for publication. It was great because not only did it explain the formatting rationale, but was also formatted like a manuscript submission.


The document still floats around the web, often appearing on writers' blogs but twenty years later it is woefully out of date. For example, it says to use the font Courier and underline text you want to appear in italics.


Contemporary submissions are done largely online through submission managers like Submittable, and so editors now copy and paste text directly from Submittable into Adobe InDesign when they begin laying out their journal. Editors are annoyed if they have to search through the text and convert underlining to italics, and we don't want to annoy our editors. So while Shunn did a great job, it is time for an up-to-date formatting guide.


Download the file to the right for an explanation and demonstration of how to format your short fiction or CNF manuscript. This can also be used as a handout in creative writing classes. I gave it to my students.

Proper Manuscript Format for Submissions
Text Document 64.1 KB