How to Write for Proceedings (helpful hints from one who has been there)
Proceedings, the flagship magazine of the U.S. Naval Institute, aims to stimulate, illuminate, provoke, and, when appropriate, entertain. We offer an independent forum for discussion and debate (sometimes heated) on professional topics of interest to the Sea Services. We are not an organ of the Navy, Marine Corps, or any other organization or institution, public or private. We are supportive, however, of the Sea Services and their mission.
Our audience, first and foremost, are the men and women of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine. But over the 140 years of our existence that audience has swelled to include members of the Army and the Air Force as well as the broader national security community.
If you have something to say or a story to tell, we want you to write for us. We have no editorial point of view beyond our belief in a strong national defense. We encourage constructive controversy and we will publish articles that take on the conventional wisdom if you can make the case for change. We have two unbending rules: (1) No personal attacks. (2) Don’t bore our readers. There’s a third rule we enforce with a degree of discretion: (3) Avoid acronyms, jargon, buzzwords, and bloated titles.
We welcome queries and unsolicited manuscripts, preferably as Microsoft Word attachments to emails sent to email@example.com, as well as suggestions for ways to illustrate your article. Send illustrations and graphics as separate attachments, not embedded in the article. Please provide word counts, counting and not counting footnotes. Our fax number is (410)-295-1049. If using U.S. mail, send submissions to the address below and, if possible, include a compact disk containing the article and any proposed images:
U.S. Naval Institute,
291 Wood Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
Your submission will be considered by the editorial staff of Proceedings and by the Editorial Board, which reviews articles on a monthly basis. This deliberate peer review process can take up to 8-10 weeks for a publishing decision, depending on where we are in the monthly review cycle when we receive your article. You can expect further communication from us in that time frame accepting or regretfully rejecting the submission. We endeavor to publish accepted articles in a timely fashion. If we are unable to publish a submission within six months of acceptance, we will gladly revert rights to the author so that they may explore other options.
Here are the guidelines for the types of articles we publish (maximum lengths, strictly adhered to except in special circumstances, are in parentheses):
Feature articles (3,000 words, not including end notes) These pieces deal with major issues facing the Sea Services, are instructive, accessible, offer fresh ways of looking at military matters, or describe situations and circumstances of which military professionals should be aware. Features are aimed at all members of our audience in the belief that, in an era of jointness, Marines need to know what the Navy is doing, etc. As Proceedings is a professional journal, it is expected that proper citation (either within the text or in an end note) will be given, where necessary, to make clear the source of a particular fact, figure, or assertion included in your article.
Now Hear This/Nobody Asked Me, But…(750 words) Both these columns are commentaries, that is, the views of our readers on issues that matter to the national security community. A NHT normally addresses a weighty issue; the latter also takes on an important matter but more often at the level of every day concerns. A NAMB often employs a lighter writing style to make its point. Both often challenge conventional thinking on an issue of consequence.
Comment and Discussion (500 words) The equivalent of Letters to the Editor, C&Ds are commentaries on articles that have run in Proceedings over the previous few months. This department is where our Independent Forum really gets a workout and, fittingly, it has its own email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Notes (1,500 words) This department, the oldest in the magazine and among the most popular, is the place for tips, advice, and instruction on shiphandling, small unit tactics, organization, training, or other more technical matters. Think of this as the “how-to” section of Proceedings. It is also the place for identifying specific problems or issues, explaining them clearly, and then promoting a solution or urging that one be found.
Book Reviews (700 words) All book reviews are commissioned by the editorial staff to ensure a reviewer is knowledgeable about the subject of the book and has no direct connection to the author. If you would like to review books for Proceedings, send a brief email to Book Review Editor Maura McCarthy,
email@example.com, describing your writing experience and the subjects you feel qualified to write about.
Anecdotes (300 words) Short, amusing, tasteful tales about Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Merchant Mariners.
Reminder Except in special circumstances word lengths given above are strictly adhered to.
With all submissions, please supply your home and office phone numbers and emails, your return address, your Social Security number, and a short biography (2-3 sentences). If you mail your submission and would like it returned, please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Tips on Writing
Even the most professional authors rely on simple techniques such as these to make their writing clean, direct, and accurate.
Finally, all seagoing service professionals who have thought of writing an article should rest assured that the Proceedings editors will assist you. They'll see to it that your piece achieves the editorial refinement that your ideas deserve.
By Captain John Byron, U.S. Navy (Retired)