Mistake 48: Failing to Use Basic Formatting

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: Basic formatting in writing is a fundamental of the craft. Hard as it is to believe, about 50 percent of novice
writers don’t even bother to learn this. They submit to their venues in ways that guarantee that their writing won’t even get looked at. When book agents and editors see a manuscript that isn’t double-spaced, they know right away that the author hasn’t done the basic groundwork needed. When magazine editors see an article that isn’t the correct word count, they know the same thing. A badly formatted piece might be a diamond in the rough, but that possibility is a remote one. In fact, all the agents and editors I’ve talked to say they don’t even bother to take a look.

The solution:
The simple mistakes weed out half of all submissions. These are the easiest ones to avoid, so take the time to ensure you don’t make them. Get the guidelines for whatever venue you are submitting to and follow them.

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