Writer Gripe: Standard Manuscript Formatting

If you’re a writer and have submitted pieces to publishers, you have undoubtedly come across “standard manuscript formatting.” (SMF for simplicity) This may seem like a minor gripe, but SMF seems wildly antiquated. Sure 12-point font, and New Times Roman font I can get behind. But double spaced? Really? This is the day and age of the internet, we aren’t submitting paper copies, and editors aren’t going to be making notes in the margins.

Okay, maybe complaining about double-spacing seems silly, I mean ultimately it doesn’t really matter much. While I’m annoyed by it, I do acknowledge that. There is another aspect of SMF that I find much worse. In the top left corner, a person’s name, address, phone number, and (depending on the publication) pronouns are required. Again, this isn’t 1995 where authors are mailing physical manuscripts to literary journals. I can see email and name requirements so publishers can inform submitters of their decision. Why do publishers need my address, phone number, and pronouns? Not only are these irrelevant to the story but sharing such information to strangers online can be dangerous, particularly over email.

Heck, you’d be surprised what information is at stake with just having a person’s legal name and email. It should be noted that not every publisher requires these details and may even prefer the format this blog is in. However, there are more than a few that still require this information/formatting and I can only surmise they do so because “it’s the standard” and no other reason than that.

Fellow writers, have you wondered this about SMF too or am I alone? Personally, I find requiring a physical address and phone number as necessary as when prospective employers require salaries for all the previous jobs you’ve had, not just the most recent place of employment.


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