Formatting a short story for submission to a potential publisher

These are the guidelines for formatting a short story for submission to a possible publisher. As stated, these are guidelines and are not an absolute industry standard. There is no absolute standard. Different publications have different submission requirements. Always check the submission guidelines of any publication you submit to because they may vary from these guidelines in important ways. If the publication does not give conflicting information, however, fall back on these guidelines to get you through the process.

Paper

  • Paper should be white, unlined and 8.5 x 11 inches.
  • Outside of the United States and Canada, A4 size paper is used in many countries. If you live in one of those countries, you should already know this. If you are submitting to a foreign country, you need to check on the paper standards for that country.
  • Only use one side of the paper; do not print on both the front and back of pages.

Type

  • Use a standard, readable typeface/font. Times / Times Roman, Helvetica and Arial are typical fonts.
  • Font size should be at least 10 (point) at most 12 (point).
  • NEVER use a script style font.

Margins and Spacing

  • Leave a 1 inch margin on all sides of your manuscript.
  • Except when specifically instructed to do otherwise, double space your lines throughout the story.
  • Do not include extra space between paragraphs.
  • You are not required to indent the first line of each paragraph. If you choose to, you may indent the first line 1/2 inch from the left margin.

Page One

  • In the upper left-hand corner of the page, include the following information. It should appear flush left with each item of information on a separate line. This portion of your manuscript is the only portion that needs to be single-spaced.
    • Your name
    • Your mailing address
    • Your city, state or province, zip or postal code (and country if sending outside of your own country
    • Phone number(s)
  • In the upper right-hand corner of the page, flush right, include the approximate word count, rounded to the nearest hundred for stories under 10,000 words and to the nearest thousand for stories above 10,000 words.
  • In the exact center of your page (vertically and horizontally) type the title of your manuscript. You may use title case or all capital letters.
  • Two lines below your title, centered, include your byline. This is either your real name or a pseudonym.
  • Example: by John Hewitt
  • Begin the body of your manuscript (your story) four lines below your byline. This portion of your manuscript needs to be double spaced.

Pages other than page one

  • In the upper left or right side of each page include the page number and your last name. This should appear about four lines above your body text.

Things to avoid

  • Do not include your social security number
  • Do not type -30-, the end, or end at the conclusion of your manuscript. Just end it.
  • Do not staple or otherwise bind your manuscript. You may use a paperclip or a butterfly clamp to hold pages together.
  • Do not include information about rights, a copyright notice or any other personal details on your manuscript. If you must discuss these, do so in a cover letter

10 days of character building character bio sheets

Character bio sheets are not only a simple way to create characters, they are a great way to keep track of the characters you develop. When you write a longer work, such as a novel or screenplay, it is easy to forget minor character details. If you aren’t careful, the blue eyes you described on page five can turn to brown eyes by the end of page eighty.

Using a character bio sheet, you can record all of the essential details for your characters and keep them in a single place so that you can check those details whenever necessary. As your story progresses and your characters continue to evolve, you can use bio sheets to keep track of any changes you have made to your characters. If you keep track of all your details on the bio sheet, your editing process will go much more smoothly.

When you fill out a bio sheet initially, don’t feel as if you have to include a detail for every category. There are many things you will need to discover as your story progresses. On your first pass, record all of the details you are comfortable with and leave the rest. Feel free to add your own categories. This list has details that I find useful. You may have different needs or ideas.

  • Character Name
  • Nickname / Alias
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Residence
  • General Appearance
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Measurements
  • Clothing Sizes
  • Clothing Choices
  • Hair Color
  • Hair Length
  • Eye Color
  • Handedness
  • Jewelry
  • Tattoos / Marks
  • Role in the Story
  • Key Relationships
  • Education
  • Work History
  • Skills
  • Phobias / Fears
  • Bad Habits / Vices
  • Quirks
  • Best Qualities
  • Worst Qualities
  • Key Childhood Experiences
  • Key Teenage Experiences
  • Key Adult Experiences
  • Sexual Background
  • Favorites (food, clothing, art, music, TV show, movie, book)
  • Goals and Motivations
  • Morality / Ethics
  • Style of Speech
  • Words/Slang/Jargon
  • Additional Information
  • Character Name
  • Nickname / Alias
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Residence
  • General Appearance
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Measurements
  • Clothing Sizes
  • Clothing Choices
  • Hair Color
  • Hair Length
  • Eye Color
  • Handedness
  • Jewelry
  • Tattoos / Marks
  • Role in the Story
  • Key Relationships
  • Education
  • Work History
  • Skills
  • Phobias / Fears
  • Bad Habits / Vices
  • Quirks
  • Best Qualities
  • Worst Qualities
  • Key Childhood Experiences
  • Key Teenage Experiences
  • Key Adult Experiences
  • Sexual Background
  • Favorites (food, clothing, art, music, TV show, movie, book)
  • Goals and Motivations
  • Morality / Ethics
  • Style of Speech
  • Words/Slang/Jargon
  • Additional Information