If you've got an idea for an article relating to technical communication, Intercom magazine would like to hear from you. Please write a 100-word summary of your article idea and send it via email.
Intercom does accept complete, unsolicited manuscripts from STC members and other industry experts. However, sending a summary of your idea enables our editorial staff to respond more quickly. It also saves you time in the event that another writer has already proposed a similar article.
The “Content” section of this guideline will help you to determine whether your idea is in keeping with the goals of Intercom. The sections marked “Style” and “Manuscript Preparation” will help with the actual preparation of your article. Please read the “Copyright” section before sending your article to the magazine. See our Editorial Calendar for topics we’ll be focusing on throughout the year. However, you need not limit yourself to those topics.
Intercom publishes articles of professional interest to technical communicators, including writers, editors, illustrators, teachers, managers, consultants, and others involved in preparing technical documents. It provides practical examples and applications of technical communication that promote readers' professional development. Before writing an article, look over several recent issues of the magazine to make sure your topic and approach are appropriate for our readers.
The purpose of Intercom is to inform. You should therefore write in a clear, informal style, avoiding jargon and acronyms. All decisions on style and usage should be guided by common sense: What is the clearest way to present the information?
Our authority on spelling is Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged; on punctuation, usage, and format, The Chicago Manual of Style. All articles will be reviewed by STC editorial staff and/or professional copyeditors. You will have an opportunity to review any edits made to your submission prior to publication.
Intercom articles include abstracts in the magazine's table of contents. Authors who do not provide their own abstracts will have one written for them by the editorial staff. Articles should have a strong opening section that specifies the intended audience and the thesis of the article.
Intercom is a magazine and not an academic journal; therefore, articles do not include footnotes, but may include short references.
An example of a reference citation would be, “These principles have been confirmed by extensive research” (Smith 1995). Such a sentence should be changed to read, “Al Smith confirmed these principles using extensive research.” Please provide page numbers (if available) for all quotations, or provide websites for online material.
At the end of their articles, authors may include a list of references or publications for suggested reading. These sources are meant to provide readers with more detailed information on topics discussed in an article. The style of these citations should be in accordance with the style defined in The Chicago Manual of Style.
Please follow these guidelines for preparing your manuscript.
Intercom prints articles of all lengths. However, it's best to write just as much as necessary to cover your subject. The editor reserves the right to edit an article—to condense or expand material—as appropriate.
Some writers feel more comfortable writing toward a target length. For Intercom, a good target length is 2,000 words or less, especially if there are a lot of images/tables/figures.
All articles should be submitted as Microsoft Word files. Authors should put the title of the article in boldface at the top of the first page. The next line should contain the name of the author(s) and their STC membership level. In general, Intercom publishes new material, but if the article has previously appeared in another publication, the following line should state the name and date of that publication. The body of the text should begin on the next line.
Subheads within an article should be in boldface. Sub-subheads should be in italic. It should not be necessary to use sub-sub-subheads—if you find yourself tempted to do so, please consider restructuring your article.
It is not necessary to use multiple fonts or columns when formatting a manuscript. Times Roman, or any other common font, is adequate. A professional designer will take the Word files and convert them using appropriate style sheets.
The easiest way to submit an article to Intercom is via email. If possible, save your article in Microsoft Word format and attach it to email. If this is not technically possible, please contact the editor to discuss alternatives for submitting your manuscript.
Please follow these guidelines for preparing your graphics.
Submitting Screen Captures
Screen capture images should be provided at the size they were created (i.e., 100%). Please do not resample, enlarge, reduce, convert, or alter them in any way. The resolution on screen captures should ideally be high resolution, or at least 300 dpi. If you would like to combine or crop graphics, relay your edits to the editor.
Submitting Graphics (i.e., charts, figures, graphs, etc.)
Graphics should be sent as email attachments, separate from the Word document. Graphics should not be embedded into the manuscript—file-embedded graphics are unusable. Authors should use call-outs to indicate the spot in the manuscript where graphics should be inserted (usually indicated as a note in brackets, for example, [see Figure 1.]) and supply an appropriate caption. If your graphics are too large to email, please contact the editor to work out another solution for submitting graphics.
All images should be saved as high resolution (at least 300 dpi) in JPG, TIFF, or EPS format. Please do not supply images that have been saved in GIF or BMP format.
Please note that Intercom is not able to change the quality, readability, or resolution of an image that you send. We cannot touch up or re-create your graphic. This means that what we print will look no better than what you send us. If your graphic looks fuzzy, is low-res or otherwise low-quality, that's how it will look in print. If we receive a low-quality graphic, we will let you know and ask you to send a better version or delete the graphic altogether.
Photos should be submitted in color, at least 300 dpi in resolution, and at a size appropriate for use on a standard magazine page. (Images can be printed smaller than provided, but not larger.) Submitting photos as TIFF or JPG files is preferred.
Note: When using a digital camera, please use the highest quality setting possible for both resolution and compression at the time the photo is taken. Please do not try to alter the image or settings after taking the photo.
Submitting Graphics Created in PowerPoint
If a graphic is created in PowerPoint, please supply the original PowerPoint file.
Cover Letter/Concluding Matter/Author Biography
An article should be accompanied by a note stating whether the article has appeared in another publication and whether you plan to submit it to another publication. At the end of the article, please include a brief biography of the author(s) and email addresses, or other contact information for the reader.
Authors retain copyright to their work in Intercom. The Society for Technical Communication requires that author(s) grant STC print rights to articles appearing in Intercom. The Society also requires that author(s) grant STC permission to reproduce the article for an indefinite period of time in any media. We also ask authors to wait six months before re-publishing an Intercom article elsewhere (such as on a personal blog). Once an article has been accepted for publication, authors will be asked to sign a licensing agreement.
Address for Submitting Articles
All manuscripts and correspondence should be sent to the following address:
Assistant Editor, Intercom
9401 Lee Highway, Suite 300
Fairfax, VA 22030