About ten years ago an agent told me not to submit manuscripts in fonts other than Courier (or Courier New) and to double-space lines. He said editors were prejudiced against manuscripts that looked like they were written on a word processor (as opposed to a typewriter, I guess).

Assuming this was ever true, do editors still expect to see the monospace Courier font?

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    A lot of ground has been covered in these responses but what I find interesting is that no one has said how courier differs from courier new and whether agents and publishers will accept Manuscripts in courier new. Is there a difference?
    – user18450
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 13:33
  • The requirement to use a monospaced font isn't prejudice per-se: there are good reasons for it, including the fact that it makes it easier to estimate the fnished size of a book using an approximate word count (which, for standard manuscript format, is 250 words per page). Approximate word counts are more useful for this purpose than actual word counts because they counteract variations caused by the additional whitespace left by short paragraphs, e.g. if your book has higher (or lower) than average dialog or fast action vs descriptive text.
    – occipita
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 5:57

6 Answers 6


A significant proportion of agents and editors still want submissions in Standard Manuscript Format, which includes using a serif monospace font such as Courier. Many of them have become less fussy about the particular font and will also accept a proportional font such as Times Roman. However, in no case should you use a non-serif font, or anything that you wouldn't use in business correspondence. Double-spacing is still pretty much a universal requirement.

In general, you'll always be safe by sticking to the most conservative standard, as no one will be bothered by it, and some people still require it.

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    Not unlike wearing a suit to a job interview. ;)
    – rianjs
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:26
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    I would agree with everything in that link above other than Courier; I'd use Times. For me, it's because Courier is so obviously pretending to be a typewriter that it's actually a distraction. Most actual novels you pick up are either in Times or something close to it. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 16:09
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    If the editors have a problem with the font, it takes a few clicks and it's a different font. It's not like back in the 90s where you had to print the manuscript out. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 0:54
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    @Lauren Ipsum All of the publishers I work with require their editors to make sure the manuscripts are in 12pt Times New Roman. Whether the formatting people change that afterward, I'm not positive, but I don't think they do. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 0:56
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    @JSBangs printed novels are set in a variety of fonts. USually it'll tell you in the first few pages (with the library of congress info) or in the back
    – gmoore
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 2:06

When I was doing work as an Editor I loved the Courier font, or any fixed pitch font for that matter. As nice as Times New Roman looks, after reading 100+ first pages it starts to wear on the eyes. A fixed pitch font just makes it easier to read page after page and in the end readability wins when it comes to formatting and fonts.

But as for what an editor expects. If they say they want it in Courier send it in as Courier (it goes back to the rule of Always Follow the Submission Guidelines).

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    Yep, once you get used to seeing manuscripts in courier, they just look...right.
    – Ash
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 8:33
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    I'd like to +1 the pointer about submission guidelines. You don't need to guess; they'll tell you what they're looking for. If you've got an agent for your novel, s/he should also know.
    – Standback
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 21:41

When I edit MSS, I find it easy and natural to work on copy that's 'typed' in Courier and double spaced. Another fixed-pitch font might be OK, I guess, but Courier is by far the most familiar and the easiest to edit, AFAIAC.

It's impossible to edit matter set in a variable-spaced font;1 there's just not enough room2 to insert proofreaders' marks quickly and accurately.

So why not give an editor what she's used to? It can't hurt.

-- pete

1 Times is the worst, the total pits.
2 Because it's a virtue to set variable-spaced fonts tightly, in the least horizontal space. For example, try to correct the spelling of 'spellling' as it's set here. Can you even see the error?

  • Courier doesn't italicize well. Is it the convention to underline instead of italicize in manuscripts?
    – Robusto
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 11:12
  • @Robusto -- In my days as an editor, it was the convention to underline matter that's to be italicized. Maybe it's changed: that would be a good thing. But, in the end, the publisher will always tell the author what convention to follow. Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 11:53

First step: check the publisher's web site for their specific submission guidelines! They probably say right there how they want to receive your manuscript.


For reading purposes, stick to a good, well-known serif font (like Times New Roman), or slab serif font (like Courier). The reason I say this is because - regardless of your manuscript looking like it was written with a typewriter font - serif fonts are much easier to read in print than sans-serif fonts (like Arial).

On a writing course I've done, they gave the following recommendations as well:

Definitely stick with the double spacing of your lines. Use a new line for paragraphs rather than a spaced gap i.e. the spacing between the previous paragraph and the new one is the same as your line height. Indent each paragraph / new line, except the opening paragraph of the chapter/section.

I'd also recommend using single quotes for speech, rather than double quotes.

Edit: Note that these are likely UK-based styles, particularly the single quotes.

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    Single quotes, what? I've never heard of anything like that, especially since in most fonts there is no visible difference between a single quote and an apostrophe. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:25
  • Can't say I've had that problem. The sorts of fonts that you're likely to use for a submission should handle it just fine. Editors like Word handle the correct characters perfectly fine, too (at least in my experience with fonts like Times New Roman, Bookman Old Style etc.). Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 15:52
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    Single quotes for speech is the British style; double quotes for speech is American style. Punctuate for your audience. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 16:06
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    No. Just no. I will personally kill any author whose manuscript comes to me with single quotes instead of double for dialog. Then I'll go kill the acquisitions editor for accepting the piece. Even working with British authors and publishers like @Lauren said, I've /never/ seen this be acceptable. Single quotes are not for dialog. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 2:19
  • @Ralph Gallagher: Never? To help start your kill list, a quick look on my bookshelf suggests you hunt down William Gibson, Steven Erikson, and Isaac Assimov. Admittedly, that was only three out of the four books I checked, but that's good enough to start. (Although I think Assimov is already dead, so perhaps his editor or publisher would suffice). Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 7:16

Courier Prime comes with a nice-looking italics character set. Italics are also monospace and look a lot like the old cursive typeface came with many typewriters back in the day. Thus, unlike most other versions of Courier, the italics are not just a slanted version of the regular font. It was written specifically for screenwriters and is available here, among other places. https://quoteunquoteapps.com/courierprime/

  • While this may be true, it doesn't address the question.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 17:29
  • @Jeff, the SE sites are fairly particular that the answer directly address the question. I can see related questions to which this would be a perfect answer, but not this question. OTOH, you look new, and you may not yet have enough reputation points to add comments.
    – cmm
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 19:46

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