How to Format a Short Story Manuscript for Submission: a Checklist

When you submit a short story to a literary magazine, the editors expect your story to be formatted in a very particular way. Before you submit, make sure to follow the following guidelines:


The Short Story Formatting Checklist

  • Write your name, address, phone number, and email address in the top left corner of page 1.
  • Include the word count in top right corner.
  • Always use 12-point, courier font.
  • Always double-space.
  • Use 1-inch margins.
  • Include the title of your story and your author name ½ of the way down the first page.
  • Indent your paragraphs (like a book). Don’t use line breaks (like a blog).
  • Include a top-header with your last name, the abbreviated story title (no more than 3 or 4 words), and the page number in top right corner, beginning on page 2.
  • Use a pound sign (#) to separate any line breaks.

Submission Package

If you mail your short story:

  • Do not staple your pages. Leave them unstapled, loose leaf.
  • Include a brief cover letter mentioning the title of your story, a 30-word bio, and any major publications you’ve been accepted in.
  • In the package, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

To see an example and read a fuller explanation of standard formatting, get your copy of Let’s Write a Short Story! a guide for writing and submitting short stories to literary magazines.

About Joe Bunting

Joe is a ghostwriter, editor, and author. He writes and edits books that change lives. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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6 Replies

  1. I'd rather post as guest

    Courrier font? you must be a line from Guidelines published in some 1970s magazine that was torn out of paper, chewed up, spat out and somehow entered the brain of Joe Bunting, who seem to be born in late 1970s or eaerly 1980s.

  2. How to write a story

    1. William Robinson

      What do you mean when you state don’t use a line breat?


      1. Joe Bunting

        Just that you don’t have a gap between paragraphs.



  4. William Robinson

    Oops! I meant “BREAK.”

    Thanks again!

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