John Hewitt's Blog

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 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.


  • 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