Manuscript Format

1. Because a manuscript may be photocopied several times, it must always be typed (using a new ribbon) or, in the case of computers, printed with a laser printer, using a quality paper, white, 16- or 20-pound bond (no "onion-skin" paper). Set margins that will leave at least half an inch all the way around. Some editors prefer one inch margins. For computer users, set your printout for 65 characters per line, and 50 to 55 lines per 66-line page. Use one of the following type sizes:

2. Name, address, telephone number, and social security number should appear in the upper left-hand corner of the first page.

3. Approximate number of words and the rights you are offering should appear in the upper right-hand corner across from your name.


NameApproximately 750 words
AddressFirst rights
Telephone number
SS# 123-45-6789

Compute word count as follows:

4. Include a header on the second and all following pages. Your page header should include the title of your work and your last name in the top left-hand corner. The page number should go in the top right-hand corner. These should be in the same font as the body of your manuscript.


The Scarlet Letter/Hawthorne page 5

5. Underline all words that should be italicized; do not use literal italics, because the editor must read through your manuscript and underline all instances of italics for the typesetter.

6. Do not use fancy fonts. Follow editor's specifications. Some prefer "Courier" font. (This page is typed in Courier.) Do not put illustrations in your manuscript. This makes it difficult for editors to make corrections and give instructions for typesetting.

7. Your manuscript must be double-spaced, with an unjustified (irregular) right margin so the editor can write corrections, make changes, and give typesetting instructions. There should never be a single space; there should never be a triple space.

8. Indent the first sentence of each paragraph 5 to 8 spaces. Put two spaces at the end of each sentence, regardless of the end punctuation used.

9. Be certain to include a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with sufficient postage for the manuscript's return.

10. Never send your original copy. Never hand-write a letter.

11. Follow the four "don'ts":

12. Follow all peculiar format requirements of the particular editor or magazine or company.

13. Be familiar with and use the following references:

Proper Submission Format for Poetry Manuscripts

  1. For the most part, a standard format exists for poetry manuscript submissions. However, some editors' submission guidelines deviate from the norm. When in doubt, send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to the journal or press and request their writer's guidelines.

  2. Submit only three to five poems at one time, positioning your best poems on top. Most editors don't have time to read more than five poems, but less than three doesn't provide them with a large enough sample of your work.

  3. Type one poem to a page, single-spaced with double spacing between stanzas. Leave at least a one-inch margin on all sides of the page. Avoid handwriting your work.

  4. Include your name, address and phone number in the upper left or right corner. The title of your poem should appear in all caps or initial caps about six lines underneath your address, centered or flush left. The poem should begin one line beneath the title.

  5. Fold manuscript, five pages and under, neatly into thirds (do not fold poems individually) and mail in a business-size (#10, 4-1/8 X 9-1/2) envelope. For a manuscript over five pages, fold in half and mail in a 6 X 9 envelope. Larger manuscripts will look best mailed flat in 9 X 12 or 10 X 13 envelopes.

  6. To have your manuscript returned, enclose a SASE the same size as the mailing envelope with the same amount of postage. Another option is to send a disposabale manuscript. However, you must tell the editor the manuscript is disposable and the SASE you've provided is for reply only. (Three pages of poetry, a cover letter and a SASE can usually be mailed for one first-class stamp.)

  7. When sending disk or e-mail submissions, contact the editor first for specific instructions and follow the directions carefully. Always include a printed copy with any disk submission. Fax or e-mail your submissions only with prior approval of the editor or publisher.