"For The Love Of God, Do Not Send Arial." Editors On Their Favorite Fonts
In case you’re wondering, we use Georgia for this series (but we publish in Times New Roman).
- Matt Broderick, TRR Reviews Editor
Question: Which fonts are best on submissions? Other than Wingdings, which are the worst?
Leah Scott, Senior Editor, F(r)iction:
The best fonts for submissions are Times New Roman (which is boring, but wonderfully readable) and Charter. Charter is lovely—though it may not show up on certain word processors—because it is a subtly-serifed font that's kind of bodacious and very neat. The worst: Courier New, which is bulky and boosts the page count (creating a sense of alarm when first opening a submission), and Papyrus. Ugh, Papyrus.
Molly Hill, Editor, Blue Marble Review:
I must confess to having a certain fondness for fonts - in all their iterations, except when it comes to submissions. Most work we get is submitted in Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, or Times New Roman. These sturdy and staid fonts work best for our editors and let us focus on content rather than script of the piece.
Things we don't like? Anything bold (Arial Black), resembling calligraphy (Edwardian Script)-- or what seems to be an effort to be well - distracting (Comic Sans, Off Kilter, Watermelon Script). While these last few are inventive and arty we like them for that reason, and not for a submission.
One of our editors claims that Franklin Gothic just makes her nervous.
Lucie Shelly, Associate Editor Recommended Reading, Electric Literature:
I favor a serif font, but nothing too fancy. Good ol' Times New Roman is fine by me. Or Georgia, but than can look a little rich if it's large. Worst, I guess, would be Comic Sans or some weird script font, but I've never seen that in a submission. I don't like Calibri, the default font in Microsoft Word. I think it looks childish, but that certainly wouldn't alter how I feel about a great story.
Michelle Tudor, Journal Editor, WILDNESS:
Whilst the content is the most crucial element of a submission, we do have a preference for serif fonts, more specifically Times New Roman or Garamond. We’re not against sans-serif fonts in principle, although we do tend to find them less pleasant to read larger bodies of work in. As for the worst, it would definitely have to be Comic Sans.
Remy Barnes, Editor, Cleaver:
As long as you’re using a serif font, you’re in the right place. There seems to be a slow shift away from the standard Times New Roman and toward other serif fonts like Garamond or Cambria, which are both, to me, offensive to the eyes. Either way, upon publication, the magazine is going to standardize it to their font of choice, so whichever a writer uses is likely going to change in the end. Just don’t send anything with Arial. For the love of God, do not send Arial.
K.C. Mead-Brewer, Editor, Cleaver:
I always prefer Times New Roman, 12pt, though Courier New is also a classic. I’m a big believer in William Shunn’s standard manuscript format. It may be a bit antiquated in some ways, but it’s a clear, sensible standard that keeps submissions easy on the eyes. And after reading a dozen digital submissions, all you really want is someone who knows their business (and your submission guidelines) well enough to submit something that takes a bit of the chore out of staring into all that relentless computerized glow. As for the worst…Comic Sans, definitely, and—at least for me, personally—Calibri. There’s something about Calibri that just puts me on edge.
R.M. Cooper, Founding & Managing Editor, Sequestrum:
Any font that isn’t a distraction is the best font. Times New Roman is probably the way to go. We do get something in Courier every now and again, which isn’t my favorite.
Philip Elliot, Editor-in-Chief, Into The Void Magazine:
The best font for submissions is without a doubt Times New Roman. It's easy to read, attractive, and the most widely read font there is, and therefore it won't surprise anyone--this is a good thing! You want to be unique in the content of your submission, not in the format and font of it! If you have a weird hatred for Times New Roman (which makes no sense; it's everywhere), then Arial is a good choice because it's super easy to read and (very) plain. And also, even though it's really ugly, I have a special fondness for the very old-school Courier New. It's what I used to write with, because it's so unattractive that I had no choice but to make the words sing. Then I’d change the font to Times New Roman before submitting anything, in order to save the editors from weeping.
A little tip: After you've written something, read the piece in a different font. It's an easy way to trick yourself into seeing it like a first-time reader would. And most importantly, when submitting, use the font that the magazine's guidelines tell you to!
As for the worst font, I don't know. Almost everything else. I remember a short story that included about six different fonts with gigantic 18-point letters and even bigger headings and three different colours being used throughout. And it included pasted-in (seemingly irrelevant) images. Needless to say, I didn't read it.
JT Lachausse, Editor-in-Chief/Founder, Matador Review:
I say: keep it simple. You want something that is easy to read and unobtrusive, particularly with long-form prose. Times New Roman is one of the least distracting fonts out there, partly because it is so ubiquitous, and partly because it has a tall x-height (tall lower-case letters), which increases clarity for the reader. My runner-up would be Garamond, especially for poetry submissions; it's not too far from Times New Roman, and it looks very classy (think: "graceful, yet strong"). My least favorite font: Papyrus. It wants to be taken seriously, but it's just kitschy and belongs solely in junior high PowerPoint presentations.
Kris Baker Dersch, Producer/Editor, No Extra Words Podcast:
I'm not incredibly picky on formatting of submissions, but for the love of God double space them and write them in black and white. Arial, Calibri, and Times New Roman all read well. Comic Sans is annoying, but not a deal-breaker.
Joe Ponepinto, Publisher, Tahoma Literary Review:
We prefer Times New Roman—stately, compact, expressive without being funky. Honestly, any traditional serif font will do. The worst? Without question, it's Courier. That's a font that has no personality at all. It's so dated, as well. Like reading DOS code.