Microsoft Word

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 Microsoft Word below.

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

Ready to submit your work 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.

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.

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

Formatting for Microsoft Word


    The first thing to know about Microsoft Word is the default formatting is not correct. Microsoft set up their own standard, reflected in their software. This is why, if you choose to use Microsoft Word for your submissions to any publication, you must make changes to formatting to comply with industry standards. Use the four simple steps below to help guide you through the process for Microsoft Word.

Questions? Email us:

Instructions for mobile users appear at the end of each step in italicized font (like this).

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. To set the font, look for the wide toolbar across the top of your screen. Click the arrow next to Word's default font (Calibri) and find either Times New Roman or Arial in the drop-down list. Choose the option that suits you and click to select. Click the arrow next to the sizing menu (default: 11), choose either 10 or 12 pt, and click to select. Your font is now set, save your document. Move on to the next step.

Mobile users: touch the ellipses (...) along the bottom of the document to access the font options. Set the font to Times New Roman or Arial, size 10 or 12 pt.

Step 2: Paragraphs and Line Spacing

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

     Microsoft, in its finite wisdom, has created a lovely default hurdle for users to jump through: add space after paragraph. This built-in annoyance causes problems to anyone who isn't paying close attention to formatting or doesn't know that this extra space is not correct for industry standard. For The Writer's Workout, paragraphs should be set to single-spaced with no added space before or after. This way, the only blank lines that appear in your story submission are scene breaks. Yes, you read that correctly. We'll talk about it later in Step 4: Scene Breaks.

Part 1:

     To format paragraphs, find the icon in the middle of the Paragraph section of that same wide toolbar across the top. It has several horizontal lines and two arrows on the left. You'll make several necessary changes here, so click Line Spacing Options.

Part 2:

     For those who have never seen this formatting screen before, it might look scary. That's okay.

     General (the first section): set Alignment to Left.

     Indentation (the second section): set Left and Right to 0". Uncheck the box marked "Mirror Indents". Set Special to none.

     Spacing (the third section): set Before and After to 0 pt. Uncheck the box marked "Don't add space between paragraphs of the same style". Set Line Spacing to Single.

Tip: Consider the keys you touch when you type. If your fingers automatically reach for the TAB key at the start of each paragraph, leave the 'Special' setting at (none). If you rely on Microsoft Word to indent your paragraphs for you, set the 'Special' setting to "First Line" and 'by:' to 0.5".
Remember it is NEVER acceptable to indent using the space bar.

Mobile users: access the same menu you used to adjust the font (...) and scroll down. Select the single line indentation: pictured as horizontal lines with the first line indented. Ensure your text is set to left aligned. Touch 'Line Spacing' and select 1.0.

Step 3: Margins

     Margins in Microsoft Word are most likely set correctly but it's a good idea to check them before submission. Click the Layout tab on the top toolbar. The Margins button is on the far left. Choose the "Normal" setting to apply 1" margins on all sides of your document.

Mobile users: access the menu by touching the ellipses (...), then touch 'Home' and select 'Layout'. Choose "Margins" from the options. Select "Normal" where normal means 1" margins on all sides. Touch the large area of the general document to exit "Margins".

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 line 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. Save your work, you're done!

Submission Checklist Recap

Formatting for Submission to The Writer's Workout


  • Times New Roman or Arial

  • 10 or 12 pt

Single spaced


  • set at 1"

  • empty on all sides


  • indented at 0.5" using the Tab key OR auto-indent feature

  • NEVER indented using the spacebar

  • NEVER a combination of Tab key AND auto-indent

  • no extra space between paragraphs

  • one blank space between scenes

  • NEVER fill scene breaks with symbols

 Title Information

  • at the top of the document body

  • aligned left

  • Name or Pseudonym

  • Title

  • Event name (Games entries only)

  • Exact word count