Article Manuscript Format

Once your article is written, you want to submit it. Before you do, make sure you use proper article manuscript format.

In publishing, first impressions matter. An editor who receives a badly formatted, sloppy manuscript won't even give it the time of day. It will be sent back or thrown away. Period.

To stay out of the round file (the trash), make a positive first impression.

Use the right paper:

manuscript paper choose

At a minimum, use 8.5 x 11 inch, 20 pound bond white paper. This is your standard copy paper sold by the ream at office supply stores.

Anything less will smudge, fade and be too delicate to withstand being handled by multiple editors, secretaries, and the postal service.

Use a good font:

Only three fonts are commonly accepted for manuscripts. These three are:

  • Times New Roman
  • Arial
  • Courier (Courier New)
Most editors prefer a serif font, like Times, because it is easier to read in print. Arial is acceptable, but more common for electronic manuscript format.

The font should be 12 point size. Again, this is easier to read than smaller fonts and uses less paper than larger ones.

Set your margins:

Standard manuscript margins are 1.25 inches all around.

This provides ample room for editorial notes. It also provides place for the many hands to hold the pages without touching the print.

Use the best print quality:

Dot matrix printers are no longer the norm, and they are unacceptable for printing manuscripts.

Use normal printing on an inkjet or laser printer.

Always, always use only black ink. Colored inks are the sign of an amateur.

While you may not yet be a professional, you should do everything in your power to look like one.

Use proper layout:

Your article will need a cover page. This page will have your name and contact information in the top right corner. In the center of the page will be the title of the piece with your name beneath it.

Your contact information will be the only single-spaced part of the document. Everything else must be double-spaced.

Indent your paragraphs. Do not justify the right margin.

Page numbering:

Beginning on the top right corner of the second page of the article, the page number should be a combination of the title and the page number.

Story Title/2

You can use an abbreviated form of the title, as long as it is clear that the pages go together.

This format is in case the pages of the story get separated. It will be easier for the editor or assistant to figure out which pages go with which story.

Mailing your manuscript:

When you mail your manuscript, keep in mind these two points:

  1. Spell the name of the editor or other contact correctly. An incorrectly spelled name will be a turn off before the envelope is even opened.

  2. Use a white, #10 envelope or 9x12 manila envelope if the manuscript is more than forty pages. Do not try to be cute and use bright colors or odd-sized envelopes. Editors have too much to cope with on a day to day basis to be bothered with cutesy submissions.


Once you submit your article, you want to know whether it is accepted. It is on you to make sure the editor has a way to let you know.

An SASE - Self Addressed Stamped Envelope - is the most common method for this. Using an SASE allows the editor to send the manuscript back to you if they aren't interested.

Another method for this is the SASP - Self Addressed Stamped Postcard. On the postcard, you put something like this:

Manuscript Title

Please check the response that applies:

___ Accepted

___ Not Accepted

Thank you

If you follow these steps, your manuscript will look professional. This may not get your article accepted, but it will certainly let the editor know that you take your writing seriously and that you respect his or her time.

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