Thinking of Writing for QEX? Read this . . .
Most of the material QEX publishes is written by radio amateurs who are not professional writers. In fact, many have never had an article published before! The main qualification we require of authors is that they know their topic.
It's easier to write for us than you might think. While a well-written submission has a better chance for acceptance, your work doesn't have to be letter perfect. Get down your experiences as best you can, and we'll work with you. We have many expert editors and technical advisors who deal with all varieties of material. Pick a topic about which you're passionate, and start writing.
Readers are frequently kind enough to point out things that need clarification, or to challenge assertions that seem questionable to them. We want this kind of discussion for our "Letters" area. While we attempt to ensure that all articles are technically correct, authors are expected to defend their own material. If writing an article is more than you want to tackle right now, send us your suggestions and comments. All correspondence intended for publication should be addressed to: Editor, QEX, American Radio Relay League, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111 USA. Via E-mail, use firstname.lastname@example.org. Preference is often given to letters of 500 words or less.
Why Should You Write an Article for QEX?
One reason is that you have some technical expertise or experience to share with other hams. You have probably derived much enjoyment and knowledge from Amateur Radio, and you have a chance to give something back. There are additional rewards as well.
First, there is a sense of accomplishment in completing an article and knowing you gave it your best effort. It's also a good feeling when your article is accepted for publication. Undoubtedly the biggest high is when you finally see your article in print! That has to rank with the boost you experienced after your first Amateur Radio contact. That's not the end of it, however. People take the time to write you a letter or e-mail saying "thanks," or "good job."
You can be proud of your article when it appears in a League publication. It will stand for years to come as testimony to your Amateur Radio proficiency. Beyond all other considerations, when your work has been published, you will have contributed something to the Amateur Radio Service and to your fellow amateurs-- something that might even help advance the state of the technical art, or motivate readers to try a new aspect of Amateur Radio.
This Author's Guide provides you, as a prospective contributor, with the information needed to give your material the best possible chance of being accepted. We are looking for a wide variety of written material and illustrations. Remember that QEX lives only to serve as your forum to build on our legacy of innovation. Keep those projects going!
The Guide describes the type of material usually accepted for publication. It provides some basic guidelines for writing an article, and tells you how to submit it. The Guide also tells how a manuscript is handled once it arrives at ARRL HQ.
Our Editorial Approach
As a purely technical forum, QEX is much less formal than QST. Authors exchange ideas through their articles. They need not explain and support every detail. Although experts review submissions, our readers quite often can fill in gaps and work through unclear areas. Our editorial process is much quicker than that of QST, with much less author contact. QST articles may get several days of editorial time, while QEX articles get much less. We consider many articles to be nearly ready for publication on acceptance, and the author is contacted only in case of a problem.
Every issue gobbles up a great deal of technical material. We publish about twice as much technical matter every year as QST. Our need for articles is great, so don't be bashful. We need material at all skill levels. We actively support a wide variety of topics, from simple construction projects to the advancement of theory. Previously published material is also considered, although permission must usually be obtained for copyrighted material.
Send your article to the QEX Editor via e-mail to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via regular mail to QEX Editor, ARRL HQ, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Once your article is logged into the database at ARRL headquarters, we'll send you an acknowledgement e-mail. The article is forwarded to the editor for review. After review, we either send an acceptance letter and Publication Release form, or we return the manuscript.
Accepted articles cannot proceed without the signed Release form. On receipt of the signed Release, the article is edited for grammar and technical content, and prepared for layout. You will normally have an opportunity to review the edited manuscript while the first version of typeset copy is prepared. After the article has been produced in its final form, the author gets one last review before it goes out to the printer.
Occasionally, the QST Editor will forward an article to us for our possible use. The author is notified that although not accepted for QST, his or her article has been automatically submitted to QEX. The author, of course, may choose to withdraw the article at any time prior to signing the Release.
The content of each issue is not planned far in advance, and may change until sent to the printer. Therefore, we can't always predict when your article will appear until well after it's edited. Expect from six months to a year to elapse between submission and publication.
Authors are compensated for published articles at the rate of $50.00 per published page or part thereof. The number of magazine pages your article occupies depends on such factors as the number of illustrations, equations, and the space restrictions of each issue. Payment is made on publication. No compensation is given for published letters. ARRL and IARU officials, including officers, directors and vice directors, as well as officials of IARU member societies, are not eligible for compensation.
For authors who are presently under contract to the League -- such as Contributing Editors -- the provisions of the contract, and not this policy, apply. If you are a US citizen or a resident alien, we must have your Social Security number before payment can be made. Unless previously copyrighted, all accepted articles become the property of the ARRL. All rights to the published material are reserved to the League.
An important note: Send material to only one potential publisher at a time. Most magazines automatically return articles submitted simultaneously to several magazines. Multiple submissions can only lead to copyright infringement problems for publishers. If we know -- or have good reason to suspect -- that an article we receive has been offered simultaneously to other magazines, we'll return it without further consideration. Articles published previously in a club newsletter, or a magazine or journal of other than Amateur Radio interest, can still be considered for publication. If your manuscript is not accepted for publication, you are of course free to submit it elsewhere.
The ARRL editorial staff and management strive to maintain a balance of material in our various publications in order to meet the needs of our members. Unsolicited manuscripts are received regularly at ARRL from authors who would like to have their work published. We welcome these manuscripts, as we rely on them for most of the articles that appear in QEX. To reach a decision to accept or return a manuscript, the editor and ARRL Technical Advisors ask the following questions concerning each submission:
Positive answers to the above questions move the decision toward acceptance, while negative answers lead to a decision to return the manuscript. We do not use a mathematical formula for reaching the decision. Rather, it is the result of editorial judgment based on the above criteria. The decisions of the Editor and Publisher are final.
Writing an Article
Perhaps half the battle is deciding to write an article and choosing a subject. Ask yourself a few questions. What subject do you know well enough to help others understand? Have you recently completed a construction project with unique features? Do you have experimental results to pass along to others? Is there something new about your subject or your presentation? Will your article interest other amateurs?
Your manuscript doesn't have to be in impeccable English. The editors are used to working with a wide variety of material. The important thing is to provide us with an article that is technically correct and complete with all relevant information.
There are two approaches you can take to writing a technical article for us: You can submit a completed manuscript, or you can write a letter of inquiry, followed by an outline, to the editor describing your proposed article.
Our preference is to review a completed manuscript. Letters of inquiry involve longer turnaround times, and reviewing an outline gives no guarantee that the final manuscript will make a good article. Once the finished manuscript is submitted, it still must be read by the editor and Technical Advisors. The only advantage to submitting an outline is that you will find out beforehand if there is no interest in publishing an article on the subject you have chosen. There may be many reasons for that, including a surplus of articles on your topic.
Preparing a Manuscript--The Standard Form
Manuscripts should be typed or printed using black ink, double-spaced, and left-justified (ragged right margin) on 8.5" by 11" white paper. Leave at least a 0.5" margin at each edge of the paper. The title text should begin half-way down the first page to give room for editor's comments at the top. Every page should have a page number, and a header at the top. The header should include the author's last name, and the first few words of the title. For example: "Smith: Signals, Samples...." For electronic file submissions, format your word processor document to print to these standards.
Use standard abbreviations where possible. Use other abbreviations and acronyms only after they first have been spelled out. For example: infinite impulse response (IIR).
In accordance with the IEEE standard, electrical units are capitalized when abbreviated, and appear in lower case when spelled out. For example: "0.2 F" or "0.2 farads". Either US Standard or metric length units are acceptable, as long as one or the other is used consistently.
When preparing the manuscript on a computer, use the standard IBM (tm) character set. When possible, use the Microsoft Word Symbol font for Greek characters and math symbols. If you do not have access to the Symbol font, then you can use a dollar sign and spell out the name of the character. For example: $lambda. Place footnote references in the text as superscript numerals. Put the footnotes and bibliographical information at the end of the manuscript. Do not "hide" your footnotes by using your word processor's footnote feature. Just insert the reference numbers in the text and place the text of the notes (with numbers) at the end of the file. All notes should be referenced in numerical order as they first appear in the article. For example, do not reference note 2, then note 5, then note 1. Please put them in order. Double-check all of your references to be sure they are correct. Include complete reference information, such as the author's name, book or article title, publisher's name and address, date of publication and page numbers.
Label all figures with a number and place these at the end of the manuscript. Do not insert them in the text proper, and do not put the captions directly on the figures. Provide a list of figures by number, along with their captions, at the end of the manuscript. Please be sure that all figures are referenced in the text, and that the figures are referenced first in numerical order.
Sketches or schematic diagrams you supply should be as clear as possible so our technical illustrator can work directly from them. We do not require professional line drawings from you. We can use illustrations that are already in electronic form, such as .TIFF format. Or, we can redraw your figures, as long as their content is clear. Current issues illustrate the symbols and component identifications used in our drawings.
Photographs accompanying submissions are best supplied as high resolution digital camera files, although you can also submit black-and-white or color prints, or color transparencies or slides. We can often use standard 3- by 5-inch prints, but enlargements are preferred. Color photos submitted with articles may be considered for use on the front cover. Photos must be properly exposed and sharply focused. The print should possess a normal range of contrast. Prints having contrast that is too high or too low generally don't reproduce well.
We are often asked if we can accept scanned electronic image files in lieu of prints or slides. Generally we see the best results from original photos, but we may be able to use scanned images. All photos should be scanned at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (DPI), 24-bit color to ensure maximum quality in printing. If you are not sure if the photo was scanned at 300 DPI, the image should be approximately 1240 - 1400 pixels wide. This will allow us to make up to a two-column (4.5-inch-wide) version for printing. Please keep in mind that you will need more pixels if your photo has a lot of detail. We prefer TIFF image files or JPG image files with minimal compression. We can also accept high-resolution images in Kodak Photo-CD (PCD) format. Newer digital cameras may be able to provide high-resolution image files. Keep in mind the 300 DPI minimum resolution. In general use the highest possible resolution that is possible with your digital camera. Image files from inexpensive digital cameras or from print/disk processing services are usually not of sufficiently high resolution for good results on the printed page (although they may look fine on your computer screen).
Arrangements may also be made to have equipment photographs taken at ARRL HQ after an article is accepted. We will reimburse you for reasonable shipping costs if you provide us with a receipt. If you have a professional photographer take some pictures of your project, we will reimburse you for those prints we publish and for which you provide a receipt, at a rate to be set by the editor. Be sure to check with us before you spend any money for which you expect to be reimbursed.
Don't write directly on the front or back of prints. Type photo credit or descriptive information on a piece of paper and tape the paper to the back of the print, or use adhesive-backed note paper. Write separate photo captions and include them with the remainder of the manuscript. Photo credit information should appear at the end of the caption, in parentheses. For example: "Three generations of Amateur Radio operators, from the left: Jim Smith, WA3XYZ; Joe Smith, K3ABC; and Susan Smith, KA3ZZZ." (K3XXX photo.)
We do not normally publish photo credit information for photos supplied by the author, and photo credits are not provided if the author pays a professional photographer and is reimbursed as described earlier in this section. If you had someone else take photos for your article, please include that photo credit information with your article. If you need more specific information about photographic requirements for ARRL publications, please direct your questions to the Managing Editor or to the Production Department at ARRL HQ.
Concentrate on preparing a manuscript that is accurate, thorough and readable. To lure the reader into the presentation, use a descriptive and appealing title, and a "deck", or short blurb following the title. Look over recently published articles for examples. Indicate the scope of the article in its lead paragraphs and encourage the reader to delve into it further. Use relatively short sentences -- ones that contain only the words necessary to convey the message. Break up the narrative occasionally with subheadings.
After you think you have completed the article, set it aside for a day or so. Then read over the manuscript and make any revisions that come to mind. Now is the time to correct errors such as incomplete and run-on sentences, and any other mistakes that you spot. You might even want to ask a ham friend to read the manuscript and comment on it.
We prefer to receive your manuscript electronically -- along with the hard copy -- to save the work of retyping the text. So if you have a computer with word processing software, please use it. We use IBM-compatible PCs and Microsoft Word for Windows™ for most of our editing work. We can handle word processor files from just about any major word processor, however. For very long articles or articles with lots of photos, write the files to a CD or DVD. If you're in doubt, send us your file in straight ASCII or, better, Microsoft Rich Text Format (RTF). We do not accept articles in MathCad™ format.
It's a good idea to make a copy of your article before sending it to ARRL HQ -- material sometimes gets lost in the mail. Please include an e-mail address, a daytime phone number, and a fax number if possible, so we can contact you during normal business hours if necessary.
All authors are sent a certificate, which includes the author's name and call sign, article title and issue of publication. In addition, authors are sent three complimentary copies of the issue in which their article appears. Tear sheets or reprints in quantity are not available from ARRL HQ.