Practical tips 1: the presentation of poetry for submission

If you’re thinking of submitting your poetry to a magazine or publisher, consistent presentation is a must. Whenever you make a submission bear in mind the likely requirements of publication, and the person reading your poems. If they have an hundred submissions on their desk inconsistent or sloppy presentation is likely to mean your work will be ignored.


These won’t be published underlined or UPPERCASE, so just as a matter of habit it’s better to have your titles as you would wish them to be, or as they are likely to be, published.  That is bold, in title case or lowercase. Make sure they’re consistent as well, for example don’t have ‘the’ in one title and ‘The’ in the next.


Left align your poetry. Only under very exceptional circumstances should it be centre aligned (e.g. concrete poetry). Right aligned very occasionally works, but there has to be an effect in doing this that you can defend when asked.


Make sure the font is legible, not too small (12 point is usual) and is consistent, i.e. use the same font for all poems in a submission.


Standard margin size on A4 is 2.54cm on all sides. Don’t have your top margin set at 1cm and your left at 5cm. It’s annoying.

Line length

Manage your line length in accordance with the likely format of publication. Most will be published A5 or smaller. If you are in the habit of writing on A4 with long lines the line breaks will change on publication, though the fact that the line is intended to be longer is generally evident from the indent on the overrun line. If the position of line breaks is important to you take this into account.

By this we mean if you have a long line like this, when it comes to publication it will look more like this;


By this we mean if you have a long line like this, when
… comes to publication it will look more like this

And finally

Don’t print your work off when your printer is running out of ink or has problems. Faint or miscoloured text, or text with horizontal or missing lines, is difficult to read and therefore unlikely to be read.

Windrush Drop In

Photographs from the Ghosts Drop In at the Windrush Centre. The food went down well! We made some particularly useful contacts and heard a lot about people’s lives and the history of the African Caribbean community in Manchester that will add significantly to the project.

Partnership And Prize To Encourage Diversity In Children’s Fiction

Commonword, Puffin Books and Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agency (RCW) are pleased to announce a partnership for the Commonword Children’s Diversity Writing Prize, to be awarded annually from 2012. The prize will be the culmination of fortnightly Commonword writing workshops in Manchester and an annual Puffin and RCW-sponsored masterclass for budding writers who exhibit potential in children’s fiction writing for 7+ to teenage. The winning writer must embrace ethnic diversity either through their own ethnicity and culture and/or within their writing. The winning writer will receive a £500 cash prize, professional mentoring and £100 of Puffin books.

To read the full press release click below.

Commonword Children’s Diversity Prize

Love v Lust – The Tour

We’ll be publishing photos from all future events, so we thought we’d start off with a few photos from events in the last three or four years, to give you a flavour of what we do.

As a lot of our events are indoors in difficult conditions for photography (we tend not to use flash as it can be somewhat off putting for performers) we usually end up with a mixture of unphotoshopped and photoshopped images. Spot the difference!

These images are from the Love Versus Lust tour in 2007, with two teams of poets, one lust and one love, battling it out to win the audience vote. Love generally won, but then it usually does. So we’re told, anyway.

If you want to know a bit more about how the shows went there’s reviews and feedback on the Write Out Loud site here.

Ghosts Project – Volunteers Wanted

The Commonword Ghosts Projects is looking for volunteer interviewers. Ghosts is an Heritage Lottery Fund Project in Manchester centred on the Nile, Reno and PSV clubs that played a key role in bringing together as a community those people who migrated from the Caribbean to Manchester in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

Volunteers will be paired with young people from the community and will gather anecdotal evidence and memoirs from elders in the Caribbean community. In order to facilitate this you will receive training in audio recording to ‘archives’ standard.

The project will go on to create a publication and website based on the material gathered, highlighting the origins of the modern Caribbean community in Manchester and the richness and diversity of its contribution to our civic history.

For further information please contact us at:


Tel: 0161 8323777