A lot of current science-fiction and fantasy magazines have online submission systems, accepting Word documents. And where I remember, way-back-when, submission guidelines noting that (printed) manuscripts should follow Standard Manuscript Format, I'm now seeing a bunch of magazines that do not mention that.

One particularly confusing example is that Clarkesworld magazine's guidelines call for standard format, but guidelines to submit for an anthology by the same editor, using the same submission system, do not.

Is Standard Manuscript Format obsolete? Or is it so ubiquitous it doesn't even need to be mentioned?

  • 1
    Can't say what magazines actually want to see now, but the beauty of a Word format submission is that they can apply any format they like to read in with a couple clicks.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 24, 2018 at 12:18
  • @ZeissIkon Definitely -- which could well be why it's become irrelevant. But I kind of feel like I need some kind of formal confirmation -- maybe because of how important following formatting instructions used to be...
    – Standback
    Jan 24, 2018 at 13:05
  • Tempting to suggest that if the magazine wants standard format, it's because it's a magazine, founded in the long tradition of pulp publishing. The anthology is less likely to be bound by that tradition, but I doubt it would do any harm to submit in standard format. If nothing else, it shows you're paying attention to "the way things are done" and care about doing things the accepted way.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 24, 2018 at 13:27
  • 3
    @ZeissIkon Receiving something in a standard format can be an important gatekeeper, even if it isn't as practical a requirement as it once was. Jan 24, 2018 at 17:33
  • @ChrisSunami Agreed, and this is because many magazines, especially those with some "experience", are still tied to the way things were done in the 1930s to 1950s. If you don't know "the proper way", you go straight to rejections unless the slush reader is bored. Unless you can get them to read page 1 and then turn the page, nothing will happen, and making sure it looks right (to someone who might have been an actual slush reader fifty years ago) is a large part of that.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 24, 2018 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


No, but yes

There are a few things that you can do that will improve your chances. Since the editor (most likely) sees a lot of them:

  • Remove all funky formatting like headers, columns, tables, and graphics (unless they are crucial to your entry)
  • Use a simple font like arial, Courier Sans-serif or Times new roman. Not anything fancy.
  • Line-and-a-half spacing
  • Remove all double-space (space-space)

Those are good practices I do when there are no guidelines. Unless told otherwise, follow the Standard Manuscript Format...

  • 2
    "Unless told otherwise, follow the Standard Manuscript Format..." -- good advice for any submission.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 24, 2018 at 17:40

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