How to make an editor happy

The editor of a magazine that has accepted your story will be happy if:

1. You followed the formatting guidelines
2. You used a sensible font. Whether this is Courier, Times New Roman or Arial matters little. Just don’t use a font few people are likely to have
3. You went through your submission and did a search & destroy for double spacing
4. You did not use tabs for indents
5. Or spaces
6. You used no headings or any formatting other than italics or underlining

Simple, innit? Why then are some many people intent on creating tonnes of work for us?

(trundles off muttering, having just re-formatted an entire story where the author used not only tabs, but spaces for indents, as well as double spaces after full stops. Dudes! Some of this stuff has to be fixed up by hand, increasing the risk your story will be printed with effed-up formatting)

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14 comments on “How to make an editor happy

  1. Guilty as charged on the double spaces after full stops. You can tell I learned to type in the 80’s.

    You know what I would do? I’d send it back to the author and say, “great story, it’s accepted, but could you just fix these few formatting issues first…”.

    And do you know how to make a writer happy? Don’t ask for odd formatting. “Please put your email address in the header, single spaced paragraphs, no indenting, saved as a plain text file, and stand on one leg while chanting the alphabet backwards as you press ‘send’.”

    • But nothing about these guidelines is odd.

      Sometimes I feel magazines add unusual requirements just to make sure you’ve read the guidelines 😉

    • You use the ‘style’ feature in Word. I’m pretty sure other word-processors would call it something similar. By selecting a style, you can, with one click, change the formatting of the entire document.
      For example, I never indent my paragraphs, and type everything in the default font (which is Times New Roman). I have a style defined that’s called ‘Submission’ that has Courier as font, that has double-spaced lines and indented paragraphs. When I finish writing, I click ‘Select all’, in the edit menu to highlight the entire text, then I select ‘Submission’ from the style drop-down menu, and presto! Formatted manuscript ready to be sent.
      This feature also makes it much, much, much easier for an editor to change everything back, or however the magazine wants it, without quite as much chance of formatting snafus.

      • You know, this makes perfect sense and is something I would never have thought about.

        The strange thing is, I use the “formatting” option for indenting tabs in letters and other set-ups all the time. I’ve just never thought of using it when writing.

        Tabs, tabs, tabs; no more tabs. I’ve learned something new. Thank you!

  2. Okay, thanks, I still haven’t a clue but I will look. I still don’t see what is wrong with using a tab key though. I’ve used that all my life and no one has ever said a word about it before.

    • From a writer’s point of view, there is nothing wrong with it, but an editor will curse you to hell and back, because all those tabs have to be manually removed before you can format the manuscript in a desktop publishing program. Leave them in (accidentally) and you get a major mess.

  3. Well I couldn’t write anything without indenting, That would drive me nuts and look awful. Seriously, no one has ever mentioned this in stories I’ve had accepted before. Bloody hell, this whole thing drives me nuts. I wish folk would just leave me alone to write. Sod formatting. it changes every bloody year anyway. That wasn’t directed at you btw.

    • That’s the point. Don’t format. No headings, no sections, no TOC or any special paragraphing. Just write. Take care of whatever formatting the magazine wants afterwards. Most likely: very little.

  4. Pingback: How to make an accepted author happy « Must Use Bigger Elephants

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