Writers' Guidelines for COMMAND

Articles may deal with any facet of military history or current military affairs. Political, sociological, economic issues, and so on, should be covered only as they affect the military crux of your piece. If you'd like to be sure we have an interest in a project you have in mind, send a letter of inquiry before you start.

Feature articles may run anywhere from around 2,000 to 10,000 words. Occasionally feature pieces do run longer than that, but check with us before writing to any length beyond 10K. No matter how long any work-in-progress is projected to be, we will not accept it in parts; don't submit until the whole thing is done.

Pieces shorter than 2,000 words belong in our Short Rounds column, and should fit into one of its headline categories: Mysteries Revealed, Elite Beat, Weapons (or Technology) Backdate, Weapons (or Technology) Update, Neat Stuff, Historical Perspective, Battleline, Strange Tales, Movers & Shakers, Humor, Trendlines, and I Remember.

Command is a magazine of popular - not scholarly - analytic military history; do not use footnotes or endnotes. (Do include a bibliography, of no more than 10 sources, which you may annotate briefly.) What you want to say must be written into the text itself; though you should make use of "sidebar" sub-articles to explore tangential, but important, elements.

The main body of your article should contain the narrative history: who did what to whom and when. Use your sidebars (which should generally be kept to fewer than 2,000 words each) to explore, clarify and analyze the things you see as the key elements within the overall story. For instance, if you're writing on some armor battle, a sidebar that immediately suggests itself would be one comparing the technical specifications of both sides' main battle tanks. Other good topics for sidebars, depending on how each relates in importance to your overall topic, are: Orders of Battle, Combat Losses Analysis & Comparision, Casualties, Terrain Analysis, Key Personalities, Technology Analysis, Weather & Climate, Disease, Logistics, Background Chronology, Events Elsewhere, What-Ifs, and so on.

Sidebars allow readers to quickly focus on just the information they happen to be looking for at any one moment; they make for easy reading in short batches, allow for non-linear approaches to reading the whole article, and pack a lot of information in easily accessible bits. Your sidebars will be critical to the overall success of your article with the readership. (When writing a Short Rounds piece, approach it as if you were doing a sidebar for a longer feature article; tightly focus on one topic.)

Within the broad and general limits described above, we are open to wide variety in compositional approaches, structures and styles. You'll find it most productive, though, to align yourself with such standard works as Strunk & White's Elements of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, and Turabian's Manual for Writers (for bibliographic forms). All of those are in print and available through any well stocked bookstore. (One solid rule on this: lose the Latin. Don't substitute i.e. and e.g. for the perfectly good "that is" and "for example.")

Bring a well-studied and well-reasoned point(s) of view to your writing. We're not interested in printing the umpteenth retelling of some well known military event if it's merely descriptive. If you're writing on a topic it should only be because you feel your study of it has brought you to some insight or understanding that's previously been poorly understood or explained.

Avoid direct quotations from secondary sources. The readership expects the writer to demonstrate a mastery of his topic great enough to allow him to smoothly synthesize what he's learned from such sources directly into his own narrative and analysis. (That is, put it in your own words.)

Our readers also enjoy: Order of Battle (OB) wire diagrams, photographs, detailed maps, charts, tables and graphs. Include as many as you can, both within and without your sidebars, without being redundant with the text itself. Use the "visual supports" to enhance your text. For example, you might find an OB analysis that would otherwise take several hundred words can be easily and more clearly presented in a quarter-page wire diagram. The same holds for casualty figures and almost any numerical data. (One solid rule here: make sure your maps show all places discussed in your article and sidebars.)

We can accept visual supports as photographs, photocopies, or clean line drawings, in black & white or color. We can and will return the originals to you, unharmed, but be sure to request that when you first submit them. (Note: photocopies of photographs can't be used.)

Your manuscript should be typed or electronically printed, doublespaced (or the computer printer equivalent), with no more than a 65-space line and 25 lines to the page. We can accept 3.5" disks in MacWrite, Word 4.0, or ASCII formats. Please do not format, layout, or use multiple fonts in your material. Keep a copy of everything you submit to us. If you want your manuscript or disk returned, include an SASE.

Submit the article with two signed copies of the Article Submission Form.

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