General Writing Guidelines

All content submitted to the Penn State Short Edition website will be reviewed by the Penn State Short Edition Editorial Board for compliance with contest rules or general submission eligibility. Every submission is subject to disqualification based on violations of these rules. The Penn State Short Edition Editorial Board will make all final decisions on submission eligibility.

Submissions must be original works by the submitter. Submissions must not be published anywhere else or submitters must provide written permission from the previous publisher to enter into a formal intellectual property agreement with Short Edition. Submissions may be simultaneously submitted elsewhere, but if it is published or accepted elsewhere please get in touch with the Penn State Short Edition Editorial Board.

The submission process is entirely electronic via the Penn State Short Edition submission portal. No paper manuscripts will be accepted. The submission form is copy/paste format.

Either within the contest theme, or for general submissions, the submitted content must be a poem or short story. Submitters must tag the submission with one or more of the following genres: 

Absurd, Historical, Horror, Humor, Joy, Love & Loss, Magical Realism, Modern Love, Nostalgia, Portrait, Quirky, Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Slice of Life, Sorrow, Suspense & Mystery, Young Adult.

When considering submitting, please keep the following in mind:

  • For short stories/poems, all genres are accepted, as long as they are about literary fiction, (historical fiction is acceptable if it includes an imaginative story).
  • Submissions must be appropriate for publication in a commercially distributed publication.
  • Submissions must not defame, libel, or slander anyone or any entity.
  • Submissions must not contain or describe any obscene, vulgar, offensive, profane, provocative, excessive violence or sex, or otherwise inappropriate content.
  • No submissions containing violence or derogatory, racist, or sexist language or situations will be accepted.
  • No biographical narrative, news-related texts or social issues written in a journalistic style will be accepted.
  • Submissions must not violate or infringe the rights of any other person or company (including but not limited to privacy rights, copyrights, trade secrets, confidential information, trademarks, or trade names).
  • Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person’s universe, without written permission, will result in disqualification.

Short story submissions may not exceed 8000 characters (including spaces) and poetry submissions may not exceed 6000 characters (including spaces). Submissions may be excerpts from longer works or a complete story or prose piece, so long as the length limit is followed. Additionally, other style considerations include:

  • Dialogue. Any portions of dialogue should be enclosed in quotation marks.
  • Italics. Titles of work, narrator thoughts, emphasis on words, and words in a foreign language should all be italicized.
  • Line breaks. Insert a single blank line between paragraphs for ease of reading.
  • Titles. Titles for submitted works written in capital letters will not be preserved, with the exception of acronyms and initials. Please follow typographical norms for writing your title (i.e. capital letter with each word – The Great Gatsby, A River Runs Through It, etc.).
  • No indentations. Please do not indent any lines.

Regarding multiple submissions, we accept:

  • up to 3 poems
  • and 1 story at a time

For authors: each submission will be emailed a confirmation of receipt. Submitters will receive an email if there is a change in the status of their submission.

Potential winners will be notified via email before the announcements are made public.

Any questions about these guidelines can be directed to Melissa Millar at muf107@psu.edu.