In submitting stories for publication, there’s such a thing as a standard manuscript format, or so they would have us believe. In practice, almost every market has its own little preferences: font, file type, or what have you. Two of the most common variations from Shunn’s standard are: 1) italics rather than underlines, and 2) no indents, space between paragraphs (this is typical when the submission is to be in the body of the email, not attached, but I’ve seen it elsewhere).

You can change both of these in a couple of keystrokes, using Microsoft Word’s Find and Replace tool.

1) Turn Italics Into Underlines, and Vice Versa

  • Open the Find and Replace dialogue (Ctrl+h)
  • Click in the Find box.
  • Either type Ctrl+i, or use the options under the [More >>] button at the bottom: More > Format > Font > Italic
  • Click in the Replace with box.
  • Either type Ctrl+u, then Ctrl+i twice, or use the options (as in the previous step) to choose Format > Font > Not Italic, Underline

The dialogue should look something like this (I use Microsoft Word 2010, but I believe it’s similar across versions):


Note that there should be NOTHING actually typed into either line, only below it.

  • Click Replace All.

This works the other way around (underlines to italics) as well as with bold, font colors, and all kinds of formatting–but I mostly use it for italics and underlines.

2) Turn Indents Into Spaces Between Paragraphs, and Vice Versa

In Microsoft Word, we have the following symbols:

^t represents a tab
^p represents a paragraph break

If you have been indenting your paragraphs using a tab, and NOT through paragraph formatting (normally Paragraph>Indentation>Special: First line By: 0.5″), you can turn manuscript format into email format through the following steps:

  • Select the text of the story only. Otherwise the placement of the word count and title will also be affected.
  • Open the Find and Replace dialogue (Ctrl+h)
  • Click in the Find box.
  • Type in ^t
  • Click in the Replace box.
  • Type in ^p

The dialogue should look like this:


  • Click Replace All.

The change should resemble this:


To turn email formatting into manuscript formatting, remember that there are now two paragraph breaks between each paragraph–you want to preserve the first, and turn only the second one into a tab.

  • Open the Find and Replace dialogue (Ctrl+h)
  • Click in the Find box.
  • Type in ^p^p
  • Click in the Replace box.
  • Type in ^p^t
  • Click Replace All.

If you ARE using paragraph formatting, you can still change the number of breaks between paragraphs through Find and Replace; however, you’ll still have to remove the indent before it’s in proper email format.

Et voila! You can now tweak your formatting as quickly as you can change your font or save to another file type. Any questions or additional tips?