WRITING TIP: Proper Formatting is Very Important. Don’t be an Amateur!

We may live in an electronic age; however, there are RULES and EXPECTATIONS that publishers and editors have when it comes to YOUR submission. Spelling and grammar is important, but too often, these days, I receive stories that are NOT FORMATTED or incorrectly formatted.

The function of formatting is to make it easier for the publisher/editor to know who submitted the story, the title of the story, an approximate word count, and also, with double-spaced lines, sufficient room to write comments and make notations, both for themselves, as well as their typesetters/designers.

So when you send your story, single-spaced, no title, no name, and riddled with errors, no matter how good the story, you will irk the reader, and that could mean a rejection, or, if you’re lucky, a rejection to resubmit properly formatted. Besides which, DON’T LOOK LIKE AN AMATEUR. You’re supposed to be a professional.

Here is an example of proper formatting. One (1) inch margins all around. Your contact information is in the upper left. Approximate word count upper right. The title is centered halfway down the page. Byline beneath it. (Do you wonder why you have your name twice on the page? The reason is simple: your legal name—the one the check will be made out to—goes on top. But your author name or pen name might be different. This avoids confusion.)

Please DON’T use TABS to indent your paragraph. Either leave it with a double return or format your word processor to include an automatic indent of 0.125″ or so.

Use the HEADER/FOOTER options to have your name, an abbreviated title and the page number (also an optional feature in most word processors) appear correctly. You can turn it off for page 1. If you do not know how to do this GOOGLE it. There are many videos out there to show you step-by-step. Do NOT add it manually where you think the page starts because different computers will show this in different places.

Page 2 has the header in the right place and the story text just flows from page to page.

TRANSITIONS: If your story has a transition, a lapse of time between scenes, you can indicate that by a line return, then centering a single #, then another line return. It will look like this:





At the END of your story, indicate it by centering and including ###. This tells the reader the story has ended.

Proper formatting will keep you looking professional, not distract from the experience of reading your story and increase your chances of publication.