"Manuscript" is a broad concept in publishing, that can refer to one or both of the following:
- the formatting of a short story manuscript,
- an accepted manuscript (by its merit, not its format), not yet in a final format (but reviewed), published with non-final-format in advance, as preprint.
A manuscript is the work that an author submits to a publisher, editor, or producer for publication. Even with the advent of desktop publishing, making it possible for anyone to prepare text that appears professionally typeset, many publishers still require authors to submit manuscripts within their respective guidelines.
Although publishers guidelines for formatting are the most critical resource for authors, style guides are also key references for authors preparing manuscripts since "virtually all professional editors work closely with one of them in editing a manuscript for publication."
Manuscript formatting (also named standard manuscript format) depends greatly on the type of work that is being written, as well as the individual publisher, editor or producer. Writers who intend to submit a manuscript should determine what the relevant writing standards are, and follow them. Individual publishers' standards will take precedence over style guides.
An ordinary manuscript only becomes a "publisher's preprint" if it somehow gets distributed beyond the authors (or the occasional colleague whom they ask for advice), but the "publisher" here is a loose concept. Illustrating:
- In a peer review context: if an author prepares a manuscript on their computer and submit it to a publisher for review, and the submission is not accepted, there never was any "publisher's preprint".
- In a web context (legal/cultural authorship): if an author needs to ensure authorship, they can use a repository to upload a version of their publication before full publication. In this context, web-publishing is not the only alternative, it is possible to use a legal deposit of the manuscript.
- Sambuchino, Chuck; The Editors of Writer's Digest Books (2009). Formatting and Submitting your Manuscript (3rd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. pp. 5, 10. ISBN 978-1-58297-571-9.
- Stevenson, Jay (2005). The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Punctuation: A Handy Reference to Resolve All Your Grammatical Problems. Alpha Books. p. viii. ISBN 978-1-59257-393-6.
- Sambuchino, Chuck; The Editors of Writer's Digest Books (2009). Formatting and Submitting your Manuscript (3rd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-1-58297-571-9.