On Spec Style Sheet

Please read this sheet carefully before submitting your manuscript. These points address matters that at worst prevent us from reading your work, and at best create a bad impression of what you have written.

Files Submitted for Publication

  • Double-space (or 1.5 space) your work, please; but please pay attention to your paragraphing. Either indent with the tab key, or leave space between blocked paragraphs.
  • Times Roman or Courier fonts only.
  • Put just one space after terminal punctuation, such as periods.
  • Do not put a carriage return at the end of each line. Carriage returns (since the days of typewriters) are just for paragraphing. Should you have done this, and we like your story, we will send the file back to you for fixing, since any fix we could try might well ruin your paragraphing.
  • Show italics as italics: First time!
  • Please show ellipses with three periods, rather than the font’s ellipsis from the Special Symbols palette, or one generated with a keyboard shortcut. Do not space between the periods.
  • If your word processor has trouble with “curly” quotation marks, which Word calls “Smart Quotes”, use the straight ones and let us sort it out. If your quotation marks are coming out backwards, change to the straight marks in your document preferences. You might have to enlarge your document to about 150% or more to check. Remember, you want them to look like “66 99” around speech.
  • If you need a dash, double hyphens are fine, but please don’t put a space before and after. Best is an em-dash (not an en-dash, please) which is a keyboard shortcut worth learning. You should look up what is correct for your platform, and for your word-processing software.


  • Put your contact information at the very beginning of the file (see the introduction to this sheet). Include your real name.
  • Bio information exactly as you want it to appear should be on a separate page at the end. In your cover letter to On Spec, please be clear about any pseudonym or pen name you would wish for authorship credit in print.
  • Please number your pages.

Nota Bene: MS Word’s Track Changes is how we do our markup, if we accept and copyedit your story. It would be a good idea to learn how it works. If your story is accepted, our copyeditors will be glad to assist you; but a basic knowledge of the feature always helps.

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The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic

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