When your manuscript reaches the editor's desk, it is your personal representative. Let it not be soiled or dog-eared in appearance, as this may cause an unfavorable reaction on the part of the editor. First impressions are important. If you plan to do much writing, it will be decidedly to your advantage to-learn to type. The editor's time is valuable, and it will lessen his task if your manuscript is typed. If you do not have a typewriter of your own, perhaps you can solicit the services of some friend who does.
Choice of Paper.--Use a good grade of bond paper, such as will stand the various handling through which it must pass. The regular letterhead size (872 x II inches) is much to be preferred to longer or shorter, or wider or narrower paper, and every sheet should be full size, no matter how few words appear on it.
First page.—In the upper left-hand corner give your name, address, position, location, and the date. Drop down at least one third of the page before giving your title. It is your privilege to choose a title for your article or poem. Even though the editor may not use it, it helps to identify your manuscript. Brevity is important in your choice of title. A single word is sometimes sufficient. The title should not usually require more than one line of space. A long title may give a top-heavy appearance to your poem.
Miscellaneous Suggestions.—Place the page number in the center top or the right of each sheet, after the first sheet of copy. Do not put the page number at the extreme left, as it is thus hidden when sheets are clipped together. Leave at least an inch of margin around each sheet. Use only one side of the paper, and be sure to double space if you are typing. A black ribbon is recommended. Be sure to clean your type often and thus get the most out of your ribbon. And remember, editors do not appreciate carbon copies. A neat, clear, original copy, on regular size paper, presents an inviting appearance, helping you to "put your best foot forward."
Before you send your article out, be sure to check all quoted material. Have you quoted it correctly? Have you placed both beginning and closing quotes ? Have you verified the quotation from the original source? Have you given the correct credit, and especially the right pages? If you are sending out much work, you should evolve some plan of recording the name of your article or poem, the date sent out, the place to which it was mailed, and the date accepted or returned.
Length.—How long should an acceptable poem or article be? Ordinarily a poem longer than twenty lines does not find space in the average periodical. And it is usually undesirable to have single articles for our periodicals more than six or seven double-spaced pages in length, and some of our editors prefer less.
Make sure there is sufficient postage on the outside wrapper or envelope to carry the manuscript to its destination. Most journals require that postage be enclosed in case the writer wishes the manuscript returned, although the Ministry does not follow this procedure.
Train yourself to say a great deal in every line, making each word bear a definite part in the task you wish your contribution to perform. Study the type of material appearing in the column of the periodical for which you are writing. Be sure you have a message of real importance to its readers, and then attempt your very best.