Skip to main content

The 411 on Contest Guidelines and Formatting for Writers

When submitting a story via email for a contest, how should it be formatted? Here's the inside scoop on what rules to follow.

Q: When submitting a story via email for a contest, how should it be formatted? Text format? Single or double spaced? You get the idea.— D. Holcomb

writing-contest-guidelines

Competition submission guidelines—much like all writing guidelines—are determined by whoever is in charge of that particular competition. Because sponsors of the events vary, the submission process and formatting vary as well. It's most important to follow their guidelines.

For example, if Contest A asks you to single space, you single space. If Contest B asks you to double space, you double space. If Contest C asks you to quadruple space and add emoticons to the end of every paragraph, you do it. The law of the land is determined by the competition sponsor.

It's true that some competitions won't specify all the particulars, and you may be left scratching your head. When in doubt, you can follow these general guides when submitting for writing competitions:

• Double space (except for poetry and scriptwriting)
• Use a standard font, like Courier, Times New Roman or Arial
• Be sure your name and contact info is at the top of the submission
• Cut and paste in body of e-mail. (Don't send as an attachment unless specifically requested)
• Avoid using smart quotes (the curly quote marks). You can turn off the function in Word.
• Keep in mind that bold, italics and other formatting often don't come through when pasted into e-mails, so avoid them if possible.

Again, most competitions have their own guidelines and it's key that you follow their requests. But when in doubt, these specs should help answer your basic questions.

************
Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Check out my book.
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

wd-Brian-web-19.jpg
Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses how to pace your story's fight scene and shares three examples from writers who tackle pacing differently.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Rushing the Drafting Process

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Rushing the Drafting Process

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is rushing the drafting process.

Kwana Jackson: On Finding the Right Home for Your Story

Kwana Jackson: On Finding the Right Home for Your Story

USA Today bestselling author Kwana Jackson discusses writing her new romance novel, Knot Again.

Jaden Terrell Killer Writers Post 2

A Conversation With Jaden Terrell on Writer Expectations, Part 2 (Killer Writers)

Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford continues his conversation with novelist Jaden Terrell about writer expectations and success.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Antagonist Reappears

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Antagonist Reappears

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have an antagonist reappear.

Karen Rose: On Characters Showing Up in the Writing Process

Karen Rose: On Characters Showing Up in the Writing Process

Award-winning author Karen Rose discusses the surprising joy of secondary characters in her new romantic suspense novel, Quarter to Midnight.

Making Middle-Grade Novels Believable

Making Middle-Grade Novels Believable

Tapping into universal human emotions, doing lots of research, knowing the ending to your story before you start, and more—author Elizabeth Raum shares how to make middle-grade novels believable.

Tamron Hall: On Turning Reporting Into Storytelling

Tamron Hall: On Turning Reporting Into Storytelling

Emmy® Award-winning talk show host Tamron Hall discusses how her decades as a reporter led to writing her new thriller novel, As the Wicked Watch.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 620

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "Noun of Place" poem.