WRITER’S GUIDELINES FOR FORTHRIGHT MAGAZINE
Editor, J. Randal Matheny
We’re looking for good writing, grammatical and forceful. Not last Sunday’s bulletin article whipped up to fill up space, but bracing ideas, vigorous phrasing, strict adherence to the Word.
These few ideas will help you toward that goal:
1. Make your article short (600 words max) and to the point, even saucy. Readers scan most web pages. The longer your article, the quicker the scan, the less they’ll get.
2. Better to reflect on one verse of Scripture, citing it in the text of your article, than to throw at the reader a hundred Bible references he’ll never look up. We want to get him face to face with Scripture. We like it when you deal with the meaning of a single text.
3. Write short sentences and paragraphs. No dumbing down, but 19th Century flourishes don’t last long in 21st Century virtual space.
4. Stay upbeat, positive, and kind, above all. There’s time to speak directly and show error for what it is, but even then, do it with grace.
5. Be personable. The Internet is a personal medium. Avoid a stand-offish posture. But don’t let Christ get outshone by your brilliance.
6. If you’re not a columnist, send your article through the link below, as plain-jane text.
7. We don’t normally do reprints. Send original articles never before published. After we publish it, all rights revert to you.
8. With your submission, send a 100-word bio of yourself, including the name and location of the congregation where you meet.
9. Last, so you’ll remember to do it first: Pray about your article, that it may bless many people and you may write with the truth of God and the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.
10. We prefer the use of the New English Translation (NET). Please do not use KJV or other versions with antiquated language.
Send your submission through this form after you read this page entirely. Articles must fit the format and style guidelines to be considered for publication.
SOME MATTERS OF STYLE
- Spell out the names of Bible books. Don’t abbreviate them. Many visitors and subscribers are not familiar with the abbreviations.
- At the first Bible citation (not reference), add the abbreviation of the version used. Some version abbreviations are these:
- NET = New English Translation
- ESV = English Standard Version
- NIV = New International Version
- CSB = Christian Standard Bible
- NASB = New American Standard Bible
- NLT = New Living Translation
- ASV = American Standard Version
- NRSV = New Revised Standard Version
- NKJV = New King James Version
- CEV = Contemporary English Version
- Modern citation style removes parentheses from Bible references: “… he could not be hidden” Mark 7:24. With exclamation points and question marks, still use a period after closing quotation mark: “… do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:24.
- Americans usually use a colon to separate chapter and verse. Much of the world uses a period. Choose your preference and stick with it.
- Use only one space between sentences.
- Cut phrases like “The fact that …” and “The fact is …” Just state the fact. Just the facts, ma’am.
- Use straight quote marks (” “) not the curved or slanted quotes. If you use MS Word, turn off the curved quotes before you save your file and copy to send to us.
- Quotations should follow the original exactly. Furnish bibliographical information for any citation, if not in the text, then in final note. If you don’t like citations, we at least want to be able to verify them.
- For footnotes, we avoid superscript. The text number should follow the word or punctuation with a slash and a number./1 The note will use/2 the number, the slash, and a space before the text. At the end of the article, separate it from the notes by ten joined underlines.
1/ Do it like this.
2/ Don’t use a space, in the text, before the slash.
- Percent sign follows number directly without space: 85%
- Do not capitalize pronouns referring to God. Not this: … according to His will. If even the KJV can refrain from capping them, we can, too. 🙂
- Don’t use the one-symbol ellipsis marks (… ALT 0133). This symbol is hard to see online. (MS Word may do this automatically; it’s your responsibility to make sure we don’t get it that way.) In formal writing, the periods are interspersed with spaces . . ., but in virtual writing we’ll do with three joined dots: … . DO put a space on each side of them when they’re used to omit words in a quote. DO avoid using them to trail off a thought or … . They are not generally needed when introducing a quote, even when words at the beginning of a quoted sentence are omitted.
- When inserting your remarks, explanations, or substitutions within quoted text, use brackets : “And if Christ is not risen, [our] faith is futile; [we] are still in [our] sins!”
- Use hyphens when phrases are used as adjectives: 8-year-old girl; all-powerful God, behind-the-scenes worker.
Get Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Read it over and over. Strunk’s unedited, pre-White edition can be found online. I’m familiar with the White edition. Just brilliant!
UPDATED 2011 July 12.