How to Format a Short Story Manuscript

How to Format a Short Story Manuscript 

Wondering how to format a short story manuscript? If you’re a short story writer and have decided that now is the time to get your name in a publication and have readers discover your work, you need to know how to format a short story.

The Importance of Formatting

Magazines have a very particular way in which they expect your manuscript to look. You’d be surprised how much having a properly edited manuscript will set you apart from your competition. I was the editor of a literary magazine, The Ogham Stone, and a swath of writers would submit manuscripts without proper formatting. Those manuscripts would inevitably end up not getting the time of day that I’m sure the writing in them deserved. 

Just like there’s a way you should dress yourself up for a job interview, there’s a way you should dress up your manuscript for publication. Formatting is the first thing an editor will see when receiving your manuscript. You want to make a good impression.

How to Format a Shorty Story Manuscript

Formatting a short story manuscript isn’t hard, you just have to make sure you follow a few simple steps:

  1. Set your margins at 1 inch around all sides.

  2. Align to the left.

  3. 12 point Times New Roman or Courier font.

  4. The font should be black.

  5. Double space.

  6. Never double space after a period.

  7. Scene breaks should be broken up with a centered (#).

  8. Insert your name, an abbreviation of your title and page number at the top right corner. Each should be separated by a slash (/). Leave this blank on the first page.

    Your first page should always include: 

  9. Writers information at the top righthand corner of the page (name, address, and email).

  10. On the righthand corner, place the approximate page number rounded to the nearest hundred.

  11. The title of your story.

  12. Your author name below the title (this can be your pen name and can be different than the name you place at the top leftthand corner). The top lefthand corner is the name they’ll be making out the check to.

  13. Begin you story below this.

If you follow this formatting for your manuscript then viola you have a well formatted, industry standard manuscript. 

Now that you know how to format a short story manuscript, you can send off your work. Always check the guidelines of the magazine you’re trying to submit to. Many of these publications have their own variation of these rules. 

Below a short story manuscript template for you to use as a reference. I’ve also attached a Google Drive link. Copy and past this and use for your own manuscript. Here’s the link—> Short Story Formatting Template

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