Standard Manuscript Format
Submitting one's writing in Standard Manuscript Format is a tremendous advantage. It means consistency in printing, page and word counts, readability. I know from reading hundreds of papers from my students, that if one doesn't have to think about the formatting, then you can concentrate on what's written. And that non-standard papers usually have more flaws than just not following the assignment's formatting guidelines. (grin)
Of course, the standard does vary. The one I use is Letter-sized, 1" margins all around, double-spaced, Courier 12-point, contact information single-spaced in upper left of page 1, word and page count on upper right of page 1, and Author / Title / Page# of Total# in upper right margin of all subsequent pages, with three asterisks *** centered on their own line signifying scene breaks. To some European markets I will reformat and print with A4 paper. And some markets prefer Times Roman instead of Courier, etc. Some want one pound symbol # for scene breaks, etc.
Fine, I understand that. And it's my job to recheck the guidelines before sending to make sure my manuscript is in the format they want.
Today I happened to run across a new market, Darwin's Evolutions, twice in one day. That was sufficient for me to look them up and see what they had to say for themselves. When I got to the Guidelines, they had a link to their own Manuscript Formatting 101. Now before I go off on a mild rant, let me first say absolutely that every market has the right to request that submissions be made in whatever manner they want them to arrive. But...
... calling something Manuscript Formatting 101 sure makes me think that this is not just this market's recommendation but The Formatting.
The following rules comprise a generic professional guideline to formatting a manuscript for electronic submission. Individual publications may vary depending on how they plan on processing received submissions or by editor tastes. However, manuscripts formatted according to the below listed rules will always present professionally.
While this will look neat, to some extent, I know a lot of other editors who would right away dispute that their recommendation will "always present professionally", because their use of Times New Roman is problematic as a proportional font. Courier isn't just a throwback to the days of typewriters -- as a non-proportional font it can make editing and proofreading a lot easier, as well as size determinations. Rules 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 would all require tweaking of my Standard Manuscript Format.
Maybe I'm Overreacting
Probably am. Maybe they're just giving out a suggested formatting for people not used to doing this. Fine, I can understand that. And for e-submissions, it certainly is pretty easy for people on both sides of the submission to change type fonts on the fly. But forgive me if my kneejerk reaction is to feel a little bit irked about coming up with such not-quite-standard-in-my-book specificity for a publication which isn't appearing to pay anything at the moment. The second non-paying new market I've across this week, which includes talk about paying "someday", rather than just making even a token payment to their authors from the start.
NOTE 6-1-2008: Yup. Cranky + Overreacting = Missed Something. Check this thread in the comments for new information.
Guess I probably won't be sending anything their way just yet.
Okay, and they have pretty cool looking cover art and Issue #1 is out this very day!