Many editors have a rule that they will not even read stories that are not formatted and presented as requested in their Submission Guidelines. Even if this policy is not stated, it affects their decision-making. This is not because they are power-hungry despots. There are legitimate reasons. Here are a few:
- A good editor likes to read all stories for the first time in the same format as the publication standard. A consistent format between manuscripts removes distractions like odd presentation and puts each manuscript on the same starting level, with the focus on content.
- Leading publications get thousand of submissions a year. Editor time is extremely valuable. Most editors enjoy finding gems among the manuscripts, but they reeeaaally dislike reformatting (don't you prefer eating an elegant meal to washing dishes?). When an editor sees he will have to spend an extra half hour of scarce time in reformatting, he subliminally marks that submission down compared to other submissions of equal quality.
- Publications need to have consistency in formatting for all their published stories: font, type size, spacing, paragraph structure, etc. This keeps the reader's focus on the words and not their structure. Since editors don't have a choice to just accept an oddly formatted story as is, they are forced to either reformat or decline the submission.
- Publications use different software and other tools in their operations. Editors know what makes their system go smoothly. Many invisible software formatting structures between types of documents create disasters.
Editors are not pedantic. Their job is to find great material and expose those works to appreciative readers. Differently formatted manuscripts steal time away from that responsibility to the detriment of everyone. Editors love nothing more than finishing a read and thinking "Wow. A great story - AND it's cut and paste!"