Style Guide

  • Work must be 12 point font, double-spaced, with no extra breaks or spacing between paragraphs. Use standard font such as Times New Roman or Courier.
  • Please place your name and contact information in the upper left corner of the first page of your manuscript.
  • Place an approximate word count on the upper right corner of the first page.
  • The first line of every paragraph should be indented to ½ inch. DO NOT use the tab button on your keyboard to accomplish this. Use the ruler in your word processor.
  • All files should be saved as an RTF document.
  • Make certain that all dialogue is contained by double quotes “  ”  and is grammatically correct.
  • Dashes
    • Use an em dash to denote a break in a sentence or to set off parenthetical statements such as the following: There was a huge flock of birds—I figured at least one hundred—flying over the field. Do not include spaces before or after the em dash.
    • Use an em dash to indicate a broken off sentence, such as the following: “Did you get—” “Hey!” John yelled, cutting her off.
    • Use an en dash to indicate spans of time or differentiation, such as the following: 2013–2014
    • A hyphen should be used to join words together, such as in the phrase twenty-eight-year-old.
  • For section breaks in your manuscript, please use the following: *  *  *  This is an asterisk, three spaces, an asterisk, three more spaces, and a closing asterisk.
  • Use italics directly in your manuscript. Do not underline.
  • Use the Oxford comma. In lists that contain only three items, there should be a comma between the second item and the word “and” such as follows: cats, dogs, and pigs and NOT cats, dogs and pigs
  • Use one space after a hard stop (period).
  • Do not use asterisks, all capitals, caps lock, or bold to indicate emphasis. Use italics instead.
  • Use only a single piece of punctuation at the end of a sentence. Do not combine an exclamation and a question, for instance (?! Or !?).  Rather, use cues surrounding the dialogue to indicate the appropriate emotion and emphasis.
  • All edits must be made to the same document with “Track Changes” turned on. Please do not create a new document when you make any changes to your story; simply make them in the original document.
  • Before sending your story, please make certain to run spell-check