Format a Manuscript to Submit to a Contest, Magazine or Other Publication

Posted on July 25, 2011


I just received a request from one of our members here asking how to format a manuscript to submit to a publication — in this case, it was the Good Housekeeping Fiction Contest I noted on a previous post. Don’t worry, there’s still time if you want to check it out.

I found good starting instructions on a Wikipedia article that aligns with the essential requirements I’ve been taught. Although individual publisher standards take precedent, the basics are as follows:

  • 1-inch margins
  • double-spaced text
  • 12-point font
  • indent first line of each paragraph
  • no extra space between paragraph — only double-space like the rest of the content
  • page numbers
  • author name, contact information and manuscript name

I found more specialized writing instructions at Writing World about formatting and submitting your manuscript to specific types of publications. Here’s also a YouTube video that helps with formatting your manuscript.

Thoroughly read and understand the contest or individual publication’s submission rules before submitting your manuscript. If you have questions, submit your questions to the contact provided in the submission requirements or of the organization hosting the contest or publication.

Contests often have specific genres or categories of publication — e.g., fiction, poetry, etc. — and specific guidelines for each genre. Don’t just follow the general rules, but make sure you understand and adhere to the specific guidelines of the genre or category for which you submit a manuscript.

For all those brave souls embarking on the submission of manuscripts — I salute you!