17 January 2010

Presentation - Layout

It shouldn’t need to be repeated, but considering what comes across my desk I feel I must. Writers do themselves no favours if they don’t stick to the industry standard when approaching markets. Ensure your typescript has:
  • double spacing
  • wide left/right margins 3 cm / 1.25 inches; top/bottom 2.5 cm/1 inch is fine 
  • consecutively numbered pages (yes, honest!) 
  • a 12 point clear script 
  • printed in Normal, not Draft mode 
  • indented paragraphing without a space between paragraphs - so if your software adds in a line space, or a half line space automatically after a hard return, go into Format and turn it off
  • been thoroughly proofread (yes, honest!)
  • a word count – computer counted is usual for short fiction and articles; for novels check whether your intended market uses a computer count or white space count. There could be up to a 20% difference. 
  • do not bind. Paperclip short work and use a C5/C4 envelope for posting. Long work can be secured with elastic bands and inserted in a cheap cardboard wallet file for protection; use a padded envelope for security
  • SAE for short work, return postage for long – or you’ll never hear from it again
If your market accepts submissions via email, study its requirements and adhere to the letter. Most markets are inundated with submissions and use an automated, or semi-automated system, to deal with them.


  1. Whoops. Made Dagger sub 1" margins as per "normal" mode in Word. Also, I always state in covering letters that, sooner than pay the return postage, they should shred it. If I want to send it elsewhere, I always print out a new copy anyway. Is there a security/plagiarism aspect with asking them to get rid of it?

  2. Editors can live with 1 inch margins; it's 0.5 inch or even 0.25 inch that makes them fume.

    As to the "shredding" aspect, you take your chances. "Recycling" is probably a more accurate term for what happens to unreturned scripts.


  3. What, exactly, is a 'white space' count, please?

  4. A white space count...

    I'll do a post, it'll be easier. But thanks for asking.