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Formatting is super important when you’re writing a short story. Although seemingly insignificant, proper formatting greatly impacts readability and professionalism. Whether you’re a newbie writer or a pro, getting the formatting right is key to making sure your story is clear and engaging. This guide will take you through the basics of how to format a short story so you can impress your readers with your writing skills.

Choosing the Right Font and Size

When you’re working on your short story and want to make it look professional, the first thing to do is pick a good font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are all pretty good choices. To make it easy on your readers’ eyes, stick to a font size between 10 and 12 points. Avoid using really small or really big fonts since that can make it hard to read.

Margins and Indentation

For a clean and balanced appearance, set one-inch margins on all sides of the document. Use a consistent indentation style of 0.5 inches for the first line of each paragraph.

Line Spacing

It’s better to use double-spacing when writing short stories. This makes it easier to read and get feedback. Make sure your lines are not too far apart or close together; consistency is important.

Dialogue Formatting

  • When different characters speak in a conversation, it’s a good idea to start a new paragraph with each dialogue. This helps readers follow along and understand who is speaking more easily.
  • Remember to use quotation marks when someone is speaking, and make sure to put periods and commas inside the quotation marks.

Scene Breaks

  • It is recommended to clearly indicate scene breaks to prevent confusion. This can be done by using a blank line, asterisks, or a symbol to signify the transition between scenes.
  • If you want to make your writing look professional, try to keep the way you break up scenes consistent. It might seem like a small detail, but it makes a huge difference!

Page Numbers and Headers

  • Make sure you add page numbers in the header or footer of your document. It’ll help you stay organized when you’re working on a multi-page document, like a short story.
  • Add your surname and the story’s title to the header to make it look more professional.

Title and Byline

  • Remember to put your title on the top of the first page. Make it bold or italicized and center it. Also, make sure it’s a bit larger than your regular text.
  • Don’t forget to add your name under the title as the author.

Proofreading for Formatting Errors

  • Make sure to give your document a thorough once-over to catch any funky formatting issues or inconsistencies in spacing, indentation, or font choice. Paying attention to these details is important so your document looks polished and professional.
  • Try reading your story out loud to see if there are any weird pauses or breaks caused by formatting problems. This should help you catch any awkward spots in your story.

Knowing how to format a short story is an important skill every writer should have. A well-formatted short story will help your readers enjoy it even more and show them that you’re a pro who pays attention to the little things. Follow these simple tips, and your story will look great and be easy to read! 

Now that you’ve covered how to format a short story, let’s dive into why proper formatting is so important and its role in a story’s readability. 

The Impact of Right Formatting: Why Proper Formatting Matters for Your Short Story

When writing a short story, the narrative and characters are crucial components of the storytelling process. However, the significance of proper formatting should not be underestimated. Formatting is not just about making your short story look good on the page; it also plays a crucial role in how readers engage with and interpret your work. In this exploration, we explore why the right formatting is essential for a short story and how it impacts the reading experience.

Reader Engagement

Proper formatting enhances reader engagement by providing a visually appealing and organized presentation. A well-formatted short story is inviting and encourages readers to immerse themselves in the narrative without distractions. When readers are presented with a clean and well-structured story, it becomes easier for them to focus on the plot, character development, and themes.

Clarity and Flow

Clear formatting contributes to the overall clarity of your short story. Distinct paragraphs, appropriate spacing, and consistent indentation help guide readers through the text, ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted narrative flow. Proper formatting helps the reader understand the story’s rhythm and pacing, which is essential for creating a cohesive reading experience.


Proper formatting conveys professionalism. It shows that you, as the author, have invested time and effort into presenting your work in a polished manner. Being detail-oriented can leave a positive impression on literary agents, editors, and publishers. When submitting your story for publication, proper formatting can set you apart from other submissions and demonstrate your professionalism as a writer.


Accessibility is a key consideration in writing. Proper formatting, such as legible font choices and reasonable font sizes, ensures that your short story is accessible to a wide range of readers, including those with visual impairments or reading on various devices. Formatting that is difficult to read or inaccessible can turn readers away from your story.

Pacing and Emphasis

Formatting allows you to control the pacing of your story. Paragraph breaks, scene transitions, and dialogue formatting can be strategically used to emphasize key moments, creating a dynamic and impactful reading experience. By knowing how to format a short story, you can elevate the emotional impact of your story and make it more engaging for your readers.

Easy Navigation

Well-organized formatting makes it easy for readers to navigate through your short story. Page numbers, headers, and consistent scene breaks enable readers to locate specific sections or revisit parts of the narrative effortlessly. This feature is particularly important for readers who want to revisit particular sections of your story or for editors who need to reference specific sections for editing purposes.

Editorial Considerations

Agents and editors often receive a large volume of submissions. Proper formatting makes your short story stand out for the right reasons, allowing editors to focus on the content rather than being distracted by formatting errors. This can increase your chances of being published and help you build a positive reputation in the writing community.

Respect for the Reader

Implementing correct formatting demonstrates respect for your readers. It shows that you value their time and comprehension, offering a story that is well-written and thoughtfully presented. Proper formatting can help your readers stay engaged with your story, showing that you are committed to creating a positive reading experience for your audience.


Proper formatting can have a profound impact on the effectiveness of a short story. It goes beyond just how it looks, influencing how readers engage with your story, view your professionalism, and understand the nuances of your storytelling. By recognizing the importance of proper formatting and following the guidelines, you can take your short story from a mere collection of words to a meticulously crafted piece that captivates and resonates with your audience.

When discussing how to format a short story and its impact, Ted Del Grosso’s latest release, Ted’s Tales Two, is the perfect example of formatting and writing done right. The bite-sized stories have the ability to strike the strings of your heart and take you back in time. Ted’s uniqueness lies in his ability to deliver a punch of nostalgia in such compelling and concise yet wholesome stories –perfect for readers running short on time. Grab your copy of Ted’s Tales Two from Amazon.

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