There is a standard, acceptable way of formatting work. Advice is given about this in the Writers’ and Artists’ yearbooks. It is relatively easy to get right. At Bridge House and The Red Telephone we spell it out.
Not that we ever reject people because they format incorrectly. However, it is noteworthy that many of our “maybe” texts are poorly formatted and at this point those that are correctly formatted tend to be put ahead of those that are not. It is certainly the case that the writer who has not followed the industry standard will also be less experienced in their writing and less able to handle and react positively to editorial comment.
It can be tedious, getting this right, but a professional will take the time to do so. Occasionally we may need to use something slightly different if layout and general appearance are important. However, even in the latter case it’s a good idea to submit a conventionally formatted text alongside the visual version.
Here is what I suggest:
It is normal practice, when submitting fiction for publication, to double space work. It is also normal to start the first paragraph “full out” i.e. right up to the margin. Notice also that we generally use “ragged right”. Rumour has it that this is to enable hard-pressed London-based editors to keep their place when they read in bed or on the Tube.
Second and subsequent paragraphs are indented. Note that you do not double double-space. This and what is described above are not Word defaults but can easily be set up in Word. Use the Paragraph function.
Note also that publishers prefer standard fonts. The two most widely accepted are Times New Roman 12 and Arial 10.
It is also helpful to include your title and your name on each page. It is also useful to include a page number and an indication of the number of pages. Again, this is very easy to set up, using the Header and Footer functions in Word – found under View in older versions and under Insert in the 2010 version.
Come on folks, get it right. It’s easy if you try.