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Classic Manuscript Format
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Shunn / Format / 3
for it in your contract. Until then, this is extraneous (and in fact presumptuous) information. Place the full title of your story a third to halfway down the first page, centered on its own line. (The editor may use that empty space to make notes for the production team.) Double- space once down and center your byline below the title. Your byline indicates the name that gets credit for the story when it’s published. This is not necessarily the same as your legal name up top, which is the one that will be printed (we hope) on your check. It could be a pen name, or a variation on your legal name. Even if the two names are identical, each must appear in its appointed slot. Double-space two more times down, and that’s where you’ll start the actual text of your story. As a matter of fact, you should set your line spacing to double from here forward, because the full text of your story should be double-spaced. Text reads more quickly when it has room to breathe, but more importantly the editor needs room between the lines to mark up your manuscript with her trusty blue pencil. (This is the case even with electronic manuscripts, which can be marked up with a stylus on a tablet screen.) The first line of every paragraph should be indented one half-inch from the left margin. Do not place extra line spaces between paragraphs, as is the common practice in online writing. First-line indentation is sufficient to indicate that a new paragraph has begun. (You can set the paragraph formatting in
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Last updated 17 March 2020


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