Creative fanworks challenge for The Sentinel fandom

Formatting your written project – advice for writers

Jim and Blair

You can send in your project using any file format that’s compatible with Google Docs. This covers most of the common word processors: Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), Open Office (.odt), Wordpad (.doc or .rtf) and many others. There’s a complete list in Google’s help section.

It’s very important that you format the story text exactly as you want it to appear when posted. Don’t add in extra formatting code the way you would if you were posting to LJ or some of the fan fiction archives – if you do that it’s going to appear in the posted story as well. In other words…

  • Make text bold or italic like this
  • and not <b>bold</b> or <i>italic</i> like this

We will reject submissions that have this sort of formatting. It just takes too long to go through and take it all out. Only add code if you are able to go the whole hog and send in a clean HTML document (but never use Word to ‘save as HTML’ – Word does not create clean code and cleaning it takes even longer.)

There are a few other formatting tricks you can use which will make it easier for us to get your story ready for posting.

These are suggestions, not rules:

1. Use heading styles to separate your story into chapters, sections or parts.

Don’t just make the heading text bold and/or larger – actually format it as a heading. In Word 2007/2010, that’s the section that looks like this:

Screenshot from Word 2010Chapter titles should be ‘Heading 1’. Sub headings such as location or time indicators should be Heading 3 or 4.

Why is this important?

When we prepare the stories for posting we’re working in a lot of different formats. To make a web page and e-books that will have the right look (not just online, but across kindles, smartphones and tablets) we have to add those styles to your story. If you’ve already done it, the conversion goes much more smoothly and you have more control over the final look of your work.

2. If your work is in chapters, show them clearly.

Separate chapters clearly. Make sure there’s an extra line space before each chapter. Make it more than one if you want. If you write in really long chapters, start each one on a new page.

And on the other hand, if it’s all one piece, don’t put in sub-headings that look like chapters. (Or, if you do, remember to add a note with your submission to clear up any potential confusion. There’s a space on the submission form for this.)

3. If you can, turn off the feature that turns straight quotes into ‘curly’ quotes, dashes into n- or m-dashes etc.

We had a number of complaints about the formatting of the .mobi files in 2015. This was our fault, but it happened because so many stories were formatted with ‘curly’ quotes and we ran out of time to check the formatting as thoroughly as we usually do. (When converting to HTML, in order to make the file fully compatible with all devices, ‘special’ characters have to be converted to code, manually. It takes a while, even with search-and-replace.)

3b. If any part of your text is not in English, please let us know on the submission form.

See above – most other languages have one or two non-standard characters such as the accents in French. This might not display properly for all readers unless we make sure to code it correctly.

4. Don’t include anything except the story/project text in your story file

Your story info (the “part 0” post) will be in the submission form – you don’t need to duplicate it in the story file.

4. Discuss with your artist how the art should be placed within your story

If your artist plans to create only one piece, that will be used as a “cover”, and there’s no need to let us know a cover piece goes at the front of your work!

But if your artist is creating more than one piece, or if her work is more appropriately placed elsewhere in your story or project (not as a cover, perhaps because the art is a story spoiler), you should have that discussion with the artist.

Your final copy will already have been sent in by the time the art is completed, so the artist is the one who should inform the mods where to place the art.



  1. avatar JKlog
    August 27, 2017    

    Can a writer and an artist be the same person?

    • August 31, 2017    

      Yes, but not on the same project. This is covered on our FAQ page.

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