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Modern Manuscript Format
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Shunn / Format / 3
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 your word processor to handle indentation for you. This will also make things easier for the production team when they’re preparing your story for publication.) The text of your story should be left-aligned. This means that, except for paragraph indentations, the left margin of your manuscript should be ruler-straight, while the right margin remains ragged. Full justification, in which both margins are straight, is a typesetting style for finished copy, not for manuscripts on submission. Now that we’re moving past the front page, this is a good time to create the header that should appear on every subsequent page of your manuscript. This header consists of the surname from your byline, one or two keywords from the title of your story, and the page number. It belongs in the upper-right corner for ready visibility. With your cursor on the second page, open your word processor’s header/footer feature. Place your header text flush right, and be sure to specify that the header itself should not appear on the first page. That covers most of the high-level aspects of manuscript formatting. Let’s zoom down to the sentence level now. Standard practice today is to put only one space between sentences. Back in the typewriter era, two spaces was the standard, but those days have flown. For those of you still in the two-space habit, you might consider doing a quick search-and-replace before sending off your story, if only to save the production team that
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Last updated 17 March 2020


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