The format to come

Welcome to More on Formatting, my new blog on all aspects of manuscript formatting.

For well over a decade my formatting guide "Proper Manuscript Format" has been available online, with the result that I've fielded hundreds of questions on the subject from writers around the English-speaking world. For years now I've wanted to share those letters and my responses to them online, on the theory that for every question I receive there are probably ten times as many writers with the same question who don't email and would find the discussion helpful.

I don't consider myself more than a de facto expert on manuscript formatting. I do, however, believe that after mastering a few basic principles, most of the rest is common sense. For instance, I recommend (as I was taught) using a Courier font for your submissions. But if the guidelines for a particular market state that they prefer to see submissions in Times Roman, it's only common sense to do as they say when sending something there.

It's clear that the further we advance into the Digital Age, the more writing, editing and publishing practices are changing. Flexibility and adaptability are important. Some posts here will address that fact. Others will offer thoughts on more mechanical aspects of formatting and manuscript submission. But the bulk of my posts will no doubt come as answers to your emails, both newly posed and mined from my archives. (To submit questions, please send email to format at shunn dot net.)

So here's where I'll flog the idea that following a standard format, no matter how odd it may look to the untutored eye, is just good business practice. I hope you enjoy what follows, and that you join in the discussion.  

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