Formatting Guidelines and Style Guide


All submissions should be in English and follow standard grammar rules as listed in the Chicago Manual of Style, with these exceptions and clarifications:

Style Guide

  • ‘all right’ not ‘alright’
  • ‘okay’ not ‘OK’
  • serial comma: a, b, and c (CMOS 6.19)
  • no semicolons in dialogue
  • one space between sentences (CMOS 6.11)
  • italics for emphasis, not ALL CAPS or underlining
  • three-period ellipse—with spaces between the periods, not Word’s one-space ellipse
  • straight quotes not Word’s “curly” quotes
  • em dash without a space before or after (Alt+0151)
  • the title not CAPITALIZED or underlined or (heaven forbid!) BOTH
  • the ‘by’ in byline not capitalized and on same line as author’s name: by Johne Cook
  • use the em dash character (Alt+0151) or two hyphens–just type the last word of the first section, two hyphens, and the next word–no spaces before or after the two hyphens

Scientific and SF Terminology:

  • 3D
  • sci-fi
  • A.I., A.I.s
  • G-force, Gs, three-Gs


Due to the fact we publish electronically, we copy/paste your story for the magazine, and so the least amount of formatting needed, the happier our cranky Lord High Editor is. So here are reminders we suggest (that’s spelled “command”) for manuscript formatting:

  • do NOT put your title in ALL CAPS
  • do NOT double-space after each sentence
  • do NOT double-space after a colon
  • single space your manuscript
  • do NOT soft return between paragraphs
  • separate scenes with # (hard return, #, hard return, begin typing again)
  • do NOT indent your paragraphs, DO space between paragraphs
  • turn off Widows & Orphans
  • turn off all the “smart” stuff: curly quotes, superscripts, fraction characters, one-space ellipses—basically anything that replaces what you type with something else
  • do NOT use underlining to indicate italics—if you want something in italics, use italics; the same rule goes for bold

Please note that a properly formatted manuscript will bring happy smiles to our Slushmasters. They will think of you as a professional and begin reading your story with joy, or in the case of some, at least without grumbling.

On the other hand, a story submitted without regard to guidelines (and one with typos, spelling and grammatical errors as well) will automatically prejudice our illustrious Slushmasters against you. Why? you ask. Isn’t it my most-fantastic story that counts, not how it is presented? Um. No. Not following our guidelines is the same as showing up to a job interview for a CEO position in a prestigious company wearing falling apart sneakers, torn jeans and a t-shirt, wearing three-day stubble, and obviously not having utilized a shower or deodorant for about a week.

Think we’re kidding? Our grumpy Lord High Editor itches to use the Big, Red Button™. Don’t give her the chance!

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