The All-Important Manuscript Format

If you’ve been looking at places to submit your work (book publishers, magazines, contests, etc.), you’ve probably noticed that just about all of them use the same term. Even in the modern day of sending files instead of printed pages, pretty much all publishers are looking for manuscript format.

So what is manuscript format?

Instead of trying to explain it myself, I’m going to provide you with a couple links to descriptions by people with a lot more experience in the publishing industry.

  • Proper Manuscript Format” by William Shunn (a published science fiction author) is a great introduction since it not only explains the rules of the format and the reasons for the rules but also is in manuscript format – it is both explanation and example.
  • Shunn has additional (and more traditional) articles on manuscript format, as well. Another that might interest you involves the difference between tabs and indents: “Indenting paragraphs without the tab key.”

If you don’t have time to read through a variety of articles (say, you have a contest deadline tomorrow), here is a shorter version with a straight-forward list of rules:

There you go. Manuscript format in the words of people who work with it all the time. Anyone have anything to add?

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