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Formatting 101

Google Docs

This page explains formatting your Writer's Games entry in Google Docs.

The Writer's Workout accepts submissions in the Chicago Manual of Style (the industry standard) with slight variations.

Formatting is the gift wrapping of your story. It's the presentation; how it looks at a glance. In the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), there are no flourishes or unnecessary symbols. Paragraphs are clean, indented, with no extra spaces. One blank line with no dashes, symbols, or stars signals a scene break. Font is easy to read in Times New Roman or Arial, size 10 or 12.

Some take these steps in advance. This helps them mitigate the time and effort spent reformatting the story or manuscript once the writing and editing phases are finished. Some find it easier to write first and worry about packaging later. Both options work as long as the final product is set to industry standard.

To format in advance, follow the steps for Google Docs below.

To format after your story is complete, save your work, select all text, and follow the steps for Google Docs.

Ready to submit your entry to The Writer's Workout? Email us at

The Writer's Workout is not responsible for damages that may result from these guidelines. Backup your work externally before you begin and proceed with caution.

To submit using Google Docs: 

  • Click "Share" in the upper right corner (for desktop)

  • Click "Get shareable link"

  • Click "Copy link"

  • Paste the link into an email to

While the tools exist to set these options as the default (a "set-it-and-forget-it" method), The Writer's Workout will not discuss these tools due to the potential for file corruption. The Writer's Workout is not responsible for any corrupt, missing, damaged, or misplaced files regardless of your interpretation of this guide. Please proceed with caution.

Instructions for mobile users appear at the end of each step in italicized font. Please read these instructions carefully. Your formatting is important.

Google Docs is by far the easiest to format of the optional file types accepted by The Writer's Workout. That's because most of the settings in Docs are already correct. The steps in this section will be checks to make sure your settings are correct to the Chicago Manual of Style. Use the four simple steps below to help guide you through the process for Google Docs.

Questions? Email us:

Tip: Setup one generic file as your "master" and make a copy each time you need it.

Formatting for Google Docs

Step 1: Font

Font is the first thing readers notice: is it legible? The Writer's Workout requires Times New Roman or Arial font in size 10 or 12 pt for submissions. Docs' default setting is Arial, 11pt. This means that you only have to change the font if you prefer Times New Roman. You do have to change the font size.

Step 2: Paragraphs and Line Spacing

Formatting paragraphs has proven the most complex challenge for Writer's Games participants in general—it seems more complicated than the Events themselves. Ignore your fears, take a deep breath, and understand that paragraph formatting is not as difficult as it looks.


Google Docs does not waste time with pre-formatted auto-indentation. You may choose to press the TAB key at the start of each new paragraph or set the auto-indent feature yourself. Remember that paragraphs should NEVER  be indented using the spacebar; it causes tons of issues for you later.


Line spacing in Docs is automatically set to 1.15", which is not industry standard. From the toolbar of Docs, find the icon with horizontal lines and two arrows (pointing up and down) to the left. Use this picture for help: the circled button is Line Spacing. Click this button and select "Single". Your line spacing is set and Google has already saved your document. Move on to the next step.

​*This is not the only way to set auto-indentation in Docs, but it is the easiest for both desktop and mobile users.

Step 3: Margins

Margins in Google Docs are already set to 1" for standard 8.5"x11" printer paper. No steps are required for margin adjustment in Google Docs. Move on to the next step.

Step 4: Scene Breaks

CMS celebrates the words. There are no added flourishes, pictures, or symbols in a properly formatted CMS manuscript. Therefore, scene breaks are always designated by a single blank line. Adding a row of stars, hyphens, or anything else to "help" offset or introduce a new scene is a CMS NO! When changing scenes, simply press the Enter or Return key twice, then start typing your new scene.


Google Docs has already saved your document. Your formatting is ready to go!

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