Once you have got a well-revised selection of poems to choose from, it's time to put together a manuscript of your poetry. You may think that the wrinkled paper with yellowed edges and coffee stains are signs of your bohemian artistic prowess, but the reality is that you are guaranteeing that those pages will get an inside view of some editor's garbage can.

Believe it or not, there are common standards to which you should adhere in order to have a top chance at publishing your poetry. Here are these all-important tips:

  • Typeface: You should always type your poems on a computer or a typewriter. It's important to use a clear typeface, such as Times New Roman or Courier. Also use a clear font size (10 point or 12 point). You can type your title however you prefer: in ALL CAPS, underlined, boldface, as plain text, or some combination thereof. If lines in your poem contain italics, then use underlining -- this makes it easier for the editor to spot (don't you agree?). Remember, you are trying to make the editor's job easier, not make them wade through piles of writing in dingbat fonts.

  • Paper: Use plain white 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Don't use tissue paper, cardstock, textured, or specially finished paper.

  • Page Formatting: Put your name and address in either the right or left top corner of the page, then space down a few lines for the title. If your poem is untitled, then just put "Untitled" on the title line and continue. Next, space down a few lines again and type the poem.

    Most poetry markets are fine with single-spaced stanzas, but some insist on double-spacing. So when you're picking where to send your poems, read the guidelines of the publication carefully.

    • Have at least a 1-inch margin all the way around your page.

    • If your poem goes on to more than one page, you can write ".../2" at the bottom right of the page to indicate it's continuation.

    • Be sure to indicate if the page break occurs in the middle of a stanza or after one by writing "[stanza break]" or "[no stanza break]" at the bottom of the page.

    • At the top of page 2, 3, 4, and the rest, only put your last name, the poem's title, and the page number.

    • Do not put copyright notices anywhere on your poetry. Not only is it insulting to editors to whom it will seem you suspect they may steal your work, but your poems are copyrighted simply by your writing them down.
  • Proofread: Make sure to spellcheck your writing and punctuation on a computer, and then have a friend give the poems a final proofread. Unintentional misspellings are the death of a poem.