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

Short Story Format

No Comic Sans Please! Photo by Angel A Acevado

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 the Author

Joe Bunting

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