Thursday, July 2, 2009

Formatting Submissions

*puts on editor/publisher hat*

When I wrote up my submission guideline I wasn't too particular about the font and formatting. I'm still not. However, having read over fifty short stories in the past few weeks that I will be rereading again over the next two days, I decided to take a little break and tell you what it is like on this side of the desk.

The stories that are the easiest to read are the ones that are in twelve (12) point font. 14 is too big. Ten is small. Unless the submission guidelines specify otherwise, use twelve point font. Please.

Fortunately, I didn't receive one that was in color. They were all black text on white background. I'll tell you right now, if anyone sends me a submission with colored font. I won't read it. It will be automatically rejected and the author won't find out until I send the acceptance and rejection letters. (I need to find a better word than rejection, because that is not what I am doing.)

And one other point, paragraph formatting. Either indent the paragraphs or put a blank line between them, please. This is what happens when I open a submission without an ident or blank line between the paragraphs: I see all that black. My eyes roll up into the back of my head. I ask myself if I feel like wading through all of that black. If the answer is no, I close that one and open another one. Oh, I will go back and read it, when I am feeling up to the annoyance of looking at all that black with very little white space. I know it is a pain in the butt to put a blank line between every paragraph, but it is so much easier to read a story on the computer when there is more white space around the text.

In a day or three, I'll post how I am handling the submissions. It's turned out a lot differently than I expected.

I just wanted to toss this bit of food for thought out at you. Does font and formatting matter? Yes and no. Twelve point standard font in black text on a white background with a blank line between paragraphs is the easiest on my eyes to read. At this point, I won't reject anyone who doesn't do that, but I will be annoyed. Do you want an editor feeling annoyed when they are reading your submission?

One more thing, do NOT resubmit your story to reformat it. I've already read it. By the time you read this and resubmit, I may have already reread it. Changing the formatting won't change my mind. I'm not allowing it to sway my opinion. *smile* It's fine the way it is. Please don't clutter up my inbox.

Edited to add: I wasn't clear. The result of blogging after reading so much. My only purpose in posting this is for writers to get a glimpse into what editors and agents deal with on a daily basis. Do what you want with this information. *smile*


  1. There's a pretty easy way to find/replace the spacing on a submission in Word (also OO, and I'm sure you can do it in Works) to get the extra line between paragraphs. (I format a lot for an online crit group and use it a lot. :P)

    Maybe people would format better if they knew a quick way to do it? (I can dig up the exact steps if anyone wants.)

    Granted I'm sure you'll get people who just are too lazy or don't care or think the rules don't apply to them, but maybe others would find it helpful. I always like if a magazine that wants specific formatting links to or shows an example to follow. :)

    Dashing off to work, ta,


  2. Well no-one in their right mind wants to give anyone another reason to reject their story, right?

    As someone who suffers from migraines (trust me, there's a point to this), the formatting of what I read is very important. If something makes my brain bleed, I'll toss it.