Note: only one envelope was slightly harmed by the carving knife above.
On the Other Side of the Envelope: Part I
When I sent out my first boook ms (for years) I had a crazy mojo thing about the way the exterior of the packet looked. If I didn't seal the envelope nicely, I ripped it up and used a new one. I made the fanciest 5160 labels. And then there's the kissing (which I still do). But now I realize that the editors probably never even saw that handiwork, and that the recycling bin probably didn't care how pretty the stamps were. Tobin and Marissa rip through those things in seconds, for example. I should've saved my energy for the ms itself.
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think that a ms should have a table of contents and page numbers, and page numbers that match up with the TOC. You don't have to grapple with the .......... 34 on every line, but the TOC is helpful.
That said, I feel like the layout and formatting of the ms should be transparent to the reader. The editors should jump right into the poetry, and not keep referring to a ms as "The one in Hattenschweiler" or "the one with the huge clip art donkey on page one." Most of us have experimented with fonts in the past. Maybe even some big and/or hideous ones. You don't have to limit yourself to times new roman. But anything that might make the work look juvenile, too slick, or just hard to read, isn't doing the editor (or your ms) any favors.
A big ms deserves an appropriately generous binder clip. I want to get carried away by your poems, rip that clip off, stack the pages on my desk, hand them to a friend, gallop around the library waving them over my head. That's not possible if the clip is so tiny that it pings across the room when I shimmy it off.
If a contest or press allows/requests an acknowledgements page, don't feel compelled to include everything you've ever published, or "published," ever. Quote reprinted on coffee mug for Aunt June. Kinko's: Exchange Street, Akron, OH: 1-12. is certainly not necessary, and will do more harm than good. It's your call, too, but if you are going to mention that your ms was a finalist at other places, perhaps mention that it was an earlier version of the ms.
I used to think that every poem in a ms should be published in a journal. By the time my first book got picked up, most were. But I don't think that a ms needs to wait that long unless it has to. There's nothing wrong with a ms that has a third of the poems published, as opposed to 99% published in journals, some of which closed up shop in the 1980s.
Finally, there is a school of thought that you should "front load" a book contest ms with all of your best work at the beginning. If you do that, at least transition gently and skillfully into your non-best-work, so it isn't like stepping from the shallow end into the diving tank. You might also consider why certain poems are so much stronger than others, and whether the marginal work really belongs. There's no need to pad your ms with juvenilia, split one poem up into one-line-per-page, or perform other tricks. Just wait until they're all as good as the best.