Must Journal Submissions Conform to Style Guidelines?

An assistant professor writes in with the following query:

Do journal editors ever reject something simply because it doesn’t fit the stated style guidelines? While it is becoming more popular for journals to state that guidelines need only be followed for accepted articles, a good amount of venerable journals still seem to require submissions to fit their guidelines. This just adds seemingly unnecessary hours of work which is precious to us (especially untenured folk). (Or, am I wrong? Does editing to fit a style really matter for submission for some reason I’m not understanding?)

My sense of things is that most journals do not care about citation style and section formatting at the initial stage of manuscript consideration. If some do, which ones? I do wonder about journals with more demanding and idiosyncratic elements in their style guidelines, such as a prohibition on the first-person. I invite comments from readers. Comments from journal editors are especially welcome.

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