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Formatting and Presentation

Stories must be formatted into paragraphs in order to be readable. A clear line should be placed between each paragraph by striking the enter key twice.


A paragraph usually contains a general idea in one sentence, and 4 - 5 supporting sentences which expand this idea by giving explanation, details and/or examples to support the main idea.

A written work — be it an essay or a story — is about an idea or concept. An essay explains it; a story narrates it. To help the reader understand and enjoy it, the explanation or narration is broken down into units of text, the paragraph. In an essay, each paragraph explains or demonstrates a key point or thought of the central idea, usually to inform or persuade. In fiction, each paragraph serves to advance the plot, develop a character, describe a scene or narrate an action — all to entertain the reader. All paragraphs support each other, leading the reader from the first idea to the final resolution of the written work.

Start a new paragraph as often as it is logically possible. Paragraphs are units of composition, they help you organize your ideas so that they flow freely from one to the other.

New paragraphs should be started:

  • At a change of place.
  • At a change of time.
  • To show a specific case as related to your topic.
  • To change to a more specific time.
  • When the speaker changes.

(see for more details)

Italics, bold, and underlining

Often italics, bold or underlining are used in order to emphasise and set apart from the main body of the text certain words or ideas. These should be used extremely sparingly, and never all together, as over-use of them diminishes the effect desired. If any of these features are used too often in a text, they will be removed. A story entirely written in bold or italics will have it stripped from the text before it is verified, or returned to the author in order for it to be done.

Spell check

There is a spell check function on the story submission page. It is the small ABC icon at the top of the form. It should be used before submitting your story.

Spell check will catch spelling errors and suggest corrections. It is formatted to check for American spelling, and will indicate that words spelled using standard British rules are misspelled; however, both American and British spelling is acceptable.

Spell check will only catch words that are spelled incorrectly. In some instances, words are spelled incorrectly for the context they are being used in, but the misspelling is a word that is recognised by the spell checker. This is just one reason why a knowledge of spelling is necessary, and careful proofreading is essential.


To make sure your story or poem looks correct before submitting, use the preview button and check through the entire length of your work. Sometimes MS Word may put in invisible junk code, which is only viewable once you have pressed the preview button. If there are errors, please correct them and preview again until the story is formatted as it should be.