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March 2017



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writing headbang


This is a question for agents, editors, and production staff, NOT WRITERS. When I say agents and editors and production staff, I mean that you edit, copyedit, proofread, page design, book design, typeset, read slush, and in other words do a significant amount of work on other people's manuscripts.

If you are a volunteer editor or slush reader, your opinion still counts, as long as the market you work for is a paying market.

If you write AND do one or more of these other things put on your hardworking industry professional cap, please.


What market do you/did you work for and in what capacity?

What typefaces do you prefer to see in submissions?

Justify your existence, please Explain your rationale?


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ChiZine, fiction editor.

Courier. It's what I'm used to looking at, and so it doesn't surprise me. ChiZine gets more subs in Times than the other zine I worked at did, so that one's gotten to look familiar, too.

Mostly I just don't want my reaction upon opening a story to be, "Eek!" Which is what it is if I read twelve stories in Courier and then open one in Times. I'm not rabid about it; our guidelines don't specify a font or even SMF. So I'm in-theory okay with anything that's readable.

I used to change fonts and double-space manuscripts, but now I read in 'view in HTML' and that's not an option.
(Where by 'not an option' I of course mean 'more trouble to me than it's worth.' I could go back to opening each story; I just don't wanna.)
Yes. I will amend post.

Thank you.
I read slush for Ideomancer, and I like Courier. I read on the monitor, and Courier is easy to distinguish.

And not surprising.
I work for Andromeda Spaceway Inflight Magazine as a slushwrangler/submissions co-ordinator, slushreader, editor, layout chick and proof-reader. Not all at once, usually. *grin*

I have also worked for a computer magazine commissioning freelance pieces.

For Andromeda Spaceways, we will read anything that uses a plain, easily screen readable font, because all our slushreaders read on screen and some fonts are HARD to read, and make us cranky and more likely to bounce your story.

Courier new is preferred, partly because it allows the editor to neatly calculate how much page space the manuscript will take up in the magazine without having to give it to the layout chick and ask her nicely to do a practice layout to see how much space it takes up. You can't do it based on word-count because so much depends on the ratio of dialogue to non-dialogue, etc.

Partly because everyone else in the sf magazine market uses standard manuscript format. But we're not terribly draconian.

As layout chick, I love and adore anyone who uses courier new because my version of indesign doesn't do anything stupid with the fonts, that way. Most fonts work fine, though, and it's only a couple that screw me around.

For the computer magazine, we ask that writers use any font as long as the names of their styles match ours, because creative suite CS uses style names to import. I think this is a reasonable approach for professional writers, but not for non-professional ones, otherwise I'd prefer this approach for our sf mag, too. Being able to say, basically "please make your title have the style "Title1", your byline the style "byline" and the bodytext = "bodytext" and "bodytext_p1" for the first paragraph."
Jay Lake here. I'm acquisitions co-editor for Polyphony anthology series from Wheatland Press. (I'm also a writer, which you may or may not be aware of, but I'm speaking in my editorial capacity at the moment.) I have a mild preference for Times or some other clean serif font because it's easier on my eyes. I have a much stronger preference for correct headers and front page info, regardless of font.

Font choice in the mss presentation has never been a decision criterion for me, not in the slightest. I might make an exception for circus fonts or handwriting fonts, but the question has so far not come up.
Hi. I edit some, but mostly I design books. I like serifs. They help me read. I like times best. I can handle courier just fine. Most other stuff I'm likely to re-format. Most of what I get has already been purchased, so re-formatting doesn't bother me, I'll be spending lots of time with these words.
Former book editor for Berkley/NAL/Penguin/Pearson/whoever they are now. Current freelance editor.

Since I didn't work in production, I didn't have any hard-and-fast-rules. Anything with serif. Anything I can read 200+ pages of in one sitting without getting a headache. Courier is fine, although I find it aesthetically ick. I personally like Times New Roman but know that many people consider it the font of death.

It's all about porting the words from page to brain. Whatever does the job effectively.

I did/do have a quirk that flies in the face of general accepted wisdom of manuscript format: I prefer 1.5 spacing, not double. It's a paper-saving, weight-reduction issue -- when you're working with 100,000 words or more, the change in paper-use can be significant.

I like 1.5 too. And I like Garamond and Goudy and Bookman, if I am writing for myself.
Daikaijuzine, slush editor.

I prefer courier for reading slush, actually, though I hate it for anything else. It's spacious and it slows me down. I'm less likely to fall into my natural skimming tendency with courier than with a font that's proportional.

I do also like 1.5 spacing, as above. It's Just Enough White.
[[ I prefer courier for reading slush, actually, though I hate it for anything else. It's spacious and it slows me down. I'm less likely to fall into my natural skimming tendency with courier than with a font that's proportional. ]]

Why is it skimming a problem in reading slush?
1) Special educational needs, UK;
2) Anything plain and boring (Arial will do nicely, or Verdana, or even TNR; it's boring but it's safe), and nothing smaller than 12 point, thank you;
3) I have to read it, and not for fun; it doesn't have to look good, just get its point across, and not make me go blind doing it.
Times or Courier New, for preference, which is pretty much what I tend to see in my role as copy-editor for a couple of publishing houses.

However, in my other day job, working for a writing consultancy, assessing written material, I receive manuscripts as files rather than as hard copy, and my life is frequently filled with surprises when I open those and see what people have done. I can only conclude they have tarted up the text with a fancy font after they finished writing it, or else had the screen set at 2 zillion per cent or some such; it honestly doesn't seem to occur to some of them that someone else has to read the material. Yes, Control-A and the font of my choice is easily done, but that is not quite the point!
I'm a volunteer slushmonkey over at The Town Drunk


While I prefer reading in Times New Roman, but manuscripts that aren't in Courier just look weird to me. It's a mindset thing -- Courier means time to read for "work" vs. Times' reading for enjoyment. This is reinforced in my writing -- I write in TNR and convert to Courier when it's time to do the final polishing and for submission.

Either way, make an editor happy -- read and follow their guidelines!!!
I can't remember what the Interzone guidelines actually say about subs, but I prefer 12 pt Courier or Times Roman.

Someone once sent a mss into Scheherazade in a gothic font. Er, no.
Freelance proofreader for one of the SF houses, though I haven't gotten anything from them in a couple months. (I'm available!) I like serif fonts: Times Roman, Bookman, Garamond, etc. Sans serif fonts look like the book designer is trying to make an "I'm so modern!" statement and failing, and also cause me to have to worry more about telling I from 1 from l, a problem in OCR text.
Shimmer, Art Director, though I slushed for a while.

Courier or Times New Roman

With Courier I can instantly tell how much space a story is going to take up in the magazine. Also, it helps focus my attention on the writing, instead of formatting, if all the stories look the same.

Because we read on screen, any non-standard font runs the risk that one of us won't have the font loaded on the computer.

You didn't ask, but I also prefer it when people give the word count with [# words per page] * [# of pages] formula instead of the MS word count. I need to know how much space a story is going to take up, and the formula version will give me a better picture of that.
Copy-editor, Tor/St. Martin's and Pocket.

First choice: Courier. Second choice: a good serif proportional-spaced font (Times, Palatino, Bookman).
Clarkesworld mag. I've also read/edited for Soft Skull, Disinformation Books, Akashic, Haymarket Books, and a variety of others.

For paper submissions Courier, unless poetry, then Times or Georgia.

For electronic submissions, Times, full-stop.
What market do you/did you work for and in what capacity?

General fiction. Literary agency slush reader.

What typefaces do you prefer to see in submissions?

I really didn't care as long as it was in 12pt. My personal preference is for Verdana, then Arial or Times New Roman but the guidelines didn't even mention font.

Explain your rationale?

Font just had very little impact. I find the US SF short fiction insistence on Courier ridiculous. It is a really ugly, archiac font.
As an FYI, this made me laugh out loud.

"Justify your existence, please Explain your rationale?"

And yes it's a Sunday, but you have my attention.
Slush reader and poetry editor for Ideomancer. Rumor has it I write as well.

Courier, 12pt, double spaced, SMF for all the stories I slush. Poetry is usually single spaced and that isn't an issue. Courier makes it easy to read submissions onscreen and easy to mark up on paper, which I do for friends.

I will admit, part of this preference is habit. When I first started writing I got used to formatting everything in SMF and writing that way.

I read anything and everything that came through a book-doctoring house of ill repute; from bad porn to excellent suspense to bad ripoffs of movies to hideous personal essays.

I honestly have *no* font preference, save that it's double-spaced and has sufficient margins. Don't go with, you know, IMPACT or something, but I'm just as happy with Arial or Helvetica or Courier or TNR or Garamond. Courier has the slight advantage to giving more white space in which to scrawl in and among the characters, but that's about it.

And, for the love of god, single-spaced, ALL CAPS, 14 point anything is unacceptable.
Editor, Tor Books. My existence is sufficiently justified already, I think.

12 point Courier. Black. Double spaced. One inch margins.

It's easy to read, it's what I'm accustomed to; I started reading manuscripts back in typewriter days. If I notice the formatting of the manuscript, then I'm being distracted from the text.

Those of you who deliver manuscripts in electronic form should know that I reformat them before reading. So you may think I'm tolerant of other fonts, but I'm not.

you are me.

sharyn november, senior editor for viking, editorial director for firebird.

beth speaks for me exactly.

why are you asking this question, anyway?
I read slush for Sybil's Garage. Our guidelines specify "standard manuscript format." This of course means 12-pt Courier, which matches my own preference. I will usually read slush on the screen, so I find it easier on my eyes. If it isn't in Courier we'll still look at it, unless it's in a really bizarre format, but I change the font to Courier anyway. I am definitely a creature of habit.

I'm also active in several writing groups, and when I'm critiquing a manuscript I will print it out double-spaced in 12-pt Courier--this makes it easier for line edits and marking my comments as I go.

Since I also write, I have actually switched to typing in standard manuscript format to give me a better sense of pacing and word count--and again, because my eyes have been trained to work with words that way. This also saves me the extra step of reformatting at the end.
Marsha Sisolak, the publisher of Ideomancer and um... jack of all trades, seeing that I read slush, edit, and throw everything up on the website. (Oh, and write myself. Some of the time.)

Courier, 12 pt., please, for anything remotely involved with writing. Every other font jumps out at me, and I have to wrestle the troll of font unfamiliarity to cross the bridge into the story.

Because of my day job, you might get a flash submission in Comic Sans, 24 pt. past me, but it would most likely be speld lic dis and I wd have to trnslat.

Not that I'm recommending you try.
I edit textbooks for a living.

Times New Roman, or other plain old readable variable-width serif font. 12 point. Big margins for all my notes. (This applies to both first and final drafts, unless the final draft is already laid out when I get it.)

Variable-width serif fonts are what I'm used to reading. They're what I've been reading any time I've read printed material from the time I learned to read. Anything else just slows me down.
Slushreader for Abyss & Apex

I don't care what the typeface or font is. We receive electronic subs. I've gotten single-space, un-indented, various fonts and types (though nothing gothic yet, hurrah!). Since it's electronic, should I be bothered, I change the font. I've done that ONCE with a long story embedded in an email.
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