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Writer's Guidelines

The Missouri Encyclopedia is a basic reference work for general readers who are interested in the history of Missouri and its region. Its mission is to provide easy access to relevant, reliable, and current information about significant people, groups, places, events, symbols, and ideas in Missouri history. To accomplish this goal, we:

  • Collaborate with a variety of contributors
  • Publish articles on a wide range of historical subjects and eras
  • Supplement articles with images, audio, and video
  • Make use of the latest digital tools and technologies
  • Continue to add new articles and resources

Acceptance Criteria for Articles

All topics for articles must be approved by the Missouri Encyclopedia’s editors. To submit a proposal for a new topic, please complete the New Article Topics form.

To be considered for acceptance, submitted articles on approved topics must:

  • Align with the Missouri Encyclopedia’s scope and mission
  • Appeal to the Missouri Encyclopedia’s audience
  • Contain the writer’s own, original writing
  • Be written at a level appropriate for general readers (tenth-grade reading level or lower)
  • Be delivered electronically, preferably in Microsoft Word

The Missouri Encyclopedia does not publish editorials, book reviews, first-person narratives, or historical fiction. Because the articles are intended to inform rather than to persuade, writers should not make arguments or attempt to prove theses. Writers may summarize the scholarly consensus about a subject, but they may not propose new or unique theories.

The Missouri Encyclopedia provides information that is as objective and neutral as possible. Promotional language that praises, advertises, or advocates for an article’s subject is unacceptable. Likewise, articles containing attacks on individuals or organizations are also unacceptable.

The author’s own previously published content, including journal articles, book excerpts, magazine pieces, and blog posts, may be submitted. Such submissions must satisfy all concerns regarding copyright protection held by previous publishers. The editorial staff may request revisions of previously published material to better suit the purposes of an encyclopedia article. The Missouri Encyclopedia will hold the copyright for any content not previously published in another setting.

Submitted articles are subject to a scholarly review process. Articles receive peer review, fact checking, and copy editing. Authors have the opportunity to respond to reviewers’ suggestions and to revise their work.

The Missouri Encyclopedia’s editors reserve the right to revise manuscripts for clarity, consistency, and style, and also to determine the length of the published work. Article length will be determined on the basis of factors such as the breadth, complexity, and significance of the subject.

Necessary Elements for Articles

Submitted articles must include the following items:

  1. Title of subject entry
  2. Name and affiliation of author (this will appear online with the article. If you do not have an institutional affiliation, please provide the city or town closest to where you reside.)
  3. Source (if adapted from previously published material)
  4. Summary statement/introductory paragraph (this section should provide a clear statement of the subject’s significance in one to three sentences that also introduce and interest the reader in the subject. Bear in mind that readers browsing the Web will need to quickly understand how the subject relates to Missouri’s history.)
  5. Body of text (should present the subject in a clear and logical progression of well-organized sentences and paragraphs)
  6. For Further Reading section (please include a brief bibliography of no more than ten of the best and most informative sources on the subject)
  7. Images/Audio/Video: Each article should be illustrated by at least one image (photo, illustration, or map). Authors who are unable to obtain images or other multimedia should submit suggestions for them and indicate where they can be found. Any images submitted should be TIFF or JPEG files at a resolution of 300 dpi or greater. Please provide caption copy and credit information for each piece submitted. For the credit information, give the precise wording required by the copyright holder; if there is no specified credit line, then please provide as much information as possible regarding source, location, and copyright status.
  8. Notes/sources used (please indicate with footnotes in the text—the footnotes will be removed prior to publication, but will be used by editors and fact checkers to verify accuracy of information)

General Suggestions

Be brief. An encyclopedia article is intended to provide a succinct overview of the subject rather than an in-depth analysis of it. Authors should confine their focus to the immediate subject (keep in mind that the Missouri Encyclopedia will provide links to other articles on related subjects). Try to use mostly short, concise sentences, but offer some variation in sentence patterns. Paragraphs should ideally be at least two but no more than six to eight sentences in length.

Write in an appropriate style and voice. The editorial staff will preserve as much of the author’s original language as possible, but published articles must share a general consistency in style and voice. Please assist us by writing clearly (avoid jargon, and concisely explain any technical or obscure terms that are essential to the article) and objectively (avoid taking sides, and present a balanced account of conflicting perspectives on controversial subjects). Avoid quoting long passages from other sources; in general, direct quotes from other works should remain brief and be used sparingly.

The Missouri Encyclopedia generally conforms to the guidelines established in The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. Please consult the Chicago manual for specific questions regarding style.

Be professional. Meet the assigned deadlines—the Missouri Encyclopedia depends on the ability of a large number of contributors to complete their responsibilities in a timely manner. Observe copyright laws.  Do not plagiarize. Avoid reproducing errors in other sources, particularly older sources—keep up to date on scholarship concerning the subject. Use primary sources whenever possible. Observe assigned word counts for the article’s length.