Proper Manuscript Format for Fiction Writers | William Shunn
Proper Manuscript Format for Fiction Writers

Welcome to the manuscript formatting guide that more users trust—​and more editors recommend—​than any other. Choose your flavor below to get started with the basics, then find answers to your all your more advanced questions in “More on Formatting.”

manuscript formatting for the 21st century

          
William Shunn (he/him)
about 1,500 words
12 Courier Place Pica’s Font, NY 12012 (212) 555-1212 format@shunn.net Active member, SCHWA
Proper Manuscript Format
by Bill Shunn
No one knows how many good stories are passed over because the manuscripts containing them are poorly formatted. We can be certain, however, that editors will more eagerly read a cleanly formatted manuscript than a cluttered and clumsy one. Here are a few suggestions for giving your manuscript that critical leg up on the competition. Start with a fresh white page, no color, no decorations. Set one-inch margins all around—left, right, top, and bottom. This is the default for most word processors, but you might want to recheck your settings just to be safe. Use black type only, since other colors can make your work difficult to read. Set your font size to 12 points. For the font itself choose something standard and easily readable, like Times New Roman. Avoid sans-serif fonts, and stay far away from anything flashy or unusual. You want to wow the editor with your content, not your font choice. (Some writers, myself included, still prefer Courier New, a monospaced font that

the original manuscript formatting guide

          
William Shunn (he/him)
about 1,500 words
12 Courier Place Pica’s Font, NY 12012 (212) 555-1212 format@shunn.net Active member, SCHWA
Proper Manuscript Format
by Bill Shunn
No one knows how many good stories are passed over because the manuscripts containing them are poorly formatted. We can be certain, however, that editors will more eagerly read a cleanly formatted manuscript than a cluttered and clumsy one. Here are a few suggestions for giving your manuscript that critical leg up on the competition. Start with a fresh white page, no color, no decorations. Set one-inch margins all around--left, right, top, and bottom. This is the default for most word processors, but you might want to recheck your settings just to be safe. Use black type only, since other colors can make your work difficult to read. Set your font size to 12 points. For the