Instructions for Authors

Technical Communication is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal published by the Society for Technical Communication (STC). It is aimed at an audience of technical communication practitioners and academics. The journal’s goal is to contribute to the body of knowledge of the field of technical communication from a multidisciplinary perspective, with special emphasis on the combination of academic rigor and practical relevance.

Technical Communication publishes articles in five categories:

  • Applied research—reports of practically relevant (empirical or analytical) research
  • Applied theory—original contributions to technical communication theory
  • Case history—reports on solutions to technical communication problems
  • Tutorial—instructions on processes or procedures that respond to new developments, insights, laws, standards, requirements, or technologies
  • Bibliography—reviews of relevant research or bibliographic essays

The purpose of Technical Communication is to inform, not impress. Write in a clear, informal style, avoiding jargon and acronyms. Use the first person and active voice. Avoid language that might be considered sexist, and write with the journal’s international audience in mind.

Our authority on spelling and usage is The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition; on punctuation, format, and citation style, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition.

Manuscript Preparation and Submission

Submitting a manuscript to Technical Communication for review and possible publication implies that its submission has been approved by all authors, researchers, and/or organizations involved, that the manuscript (or a substantial portion) has not been published before, and that the manuscript is not under review elsewhere.

When using previously published materials (for example, images or text excerpts), authors are  responsible for obtaining the permissions needed to reprint copyrighted materials.

The typical article length is between 5,000 and 8,000 words. Exceptions are possible.

Use up to three levels of headings, and indicate them clearly. Do not number headings of sections and subsections.


(all caps and bold, on a line by itself)

Second-level heading

(each word only capitalized, bold, on a line by itself)

Third-level heading

(first word only capitalized, bold, on a line by itself)

Except for the cover page, remove all identifying information from the manuscript. This includes author names, author affiliations, acknowledgments, and references to work in progress or unpublished manuscripts.

Do not use footnotes. Instead, use author-date citations within the text, and provide a complete list of works cited (labeled “References”). Avoid multiple citations for ideas or approaches unless they demonstrate an evolution in thought or practice.

Check all author-date citations within the text and all entries in the reference list  for both accuracy and conformance to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), pp. 169–224.

Submit your manuscript as a double-spaced electronic file  with one-inch margins. Do not attempt to mimic the format or layout of a published article. Keep the layout as clean and simple as possible.

Microsoft Word files are preferred. If you use another word processor, a Rich Text Format (RTF) file is also acceptable.

Organize your manuscript as follows:

  • Page 1: Cover page—Title of the manuscript, a running head, and the names, affiliations, and contact info of all authors
  • Page 2: Structured abstract—A summary of the article (maximum 250 words), using the headings “Purpose,” ”Method,” “Results,” and “Conclusion”
  • Page 3: Up to five Keywords and a Practitioner’s Takeaway (maximum 100 words) displayed as a bulleted list summarizing the practical implications of the article.
  • Page 4: Start of the manuscript
  • References
  • Tables and figures—Start each table or figure on a new page. Assign each table and figure a number and title. If a manuscript is accepted for publication, provide high-resolution images.

Send the manuscript as an attachment to an email to the editor-in-chief, Sam Dragga (e-mail:

Review Process

The editor-in-chief will read your manuscript and check its potential suitability for the journal. In the case of a positive outcome, the manuscript will be sent to three independent referees for a double-masked review. On the basis of the referees’ recommendations, the editor will send you a decision about the manuscript: accept, accept with revisions, revise and resubmit, or reject. In evaluating manuscripts for publication, referees may consider the following criteria:

Audience Awareness

o   Does the manuscript’s topic address the interests of the journal’s readers? (A manuscript’s topic need not appeal to a majority of the readership, but on the other hand, the topic should not be so specialized that it appeals to an extremely narrow minority of readers.)

o   Does the manuscript recognize in its method of development that the journal’s largest audience segment is active practitioners of technical communication?

o   Are the examples and illustrations appropriate to the audience as well as the topic?

o   Does the manuscript avoid jargon unfamiliar to most practitioners?

o   Does it consider the journal’s international audience and avoid cultural bias?

Facts, Assertions, and Arguments

o   Is the manuscript factually accurate?

o   Are facts and opinions clearly stated and identified as such?

o   Are preliminary and experimental results differentiated from conclusions?

o   Are the manuscript’s assertions logical and clearly stated?

o   Are the arguments based on ideas rather than personalities?

Originality and Use of Sources

o   Does the manuscript make an original contribution to the field of technical communication?

o   If the manuscript is not an original contribution, does it summarize existing knowledge in a particularly significant, effective, or cogent way?

o   Does the manuscript consider and document previous authors’ work on the subject, including books, journal articles, conference proceedings, and electronic information sources?

o   If the manuscript is a bibliographic study, is it reasonably comprehensive in its coverage of previous work on the subject?

o   Does the manuscript handle its sources honestly and economically?

o   Does the manuscript cite the sources of all ideas that are not original?

o   Does the manuscript distinguish clearly between sources that represent opinions and those that are research-based?

o   Are summary and paraphrase used effectively in place of extensive quotation?

o   Are the sources generally available to and readable by informed practitioners?

o   In light of the manuscript’s purpose, are the number and nature of citations reasonable?

Research Methodology and Reporting

o   If the manuscript is research-based, does the methodology comply with generally accepted techniques?

o   If the methodology is innovative or unusual, is this fact clearly acknowledged so readers can weigh this factor in evaluating the merits of the manuscript’s findings or ideas?

o   If the manuscript is research-based, are the results clearly reported and correctly interpreted?

Structure and Style

o   Is the manuscript logically organized?

o   Does the writing meet quality expectations for publication in Technical Communication?

o   Are the style and tone appropriate to the subject and audience, as well as to publication in an archival journal?

Applicability to Practitioners and Ultimate Value

o   If theoretical or research-based, does the manuscript tie the theory or research results to practical strategies that readers can implement on their jobs? (Connections between theory or research and practical application may be made in an accompanying article rather than in the article that reports the research results or explains the theory.)

o   If the manuscript is a case study, is it clearly applicable to a significant number of technical communication professionals?

o   If the manuscript is a tutorial, is the process or procedure clearly described, and is it replicable by other practitioners?

o   Ultimately, is the manuscript sufficiently valuable to practitioners and other members of the Technical Communication audience to be published in STC’s archival journal?


The Society for Technical Communication requires that authors transfer copyrights to STC for articles appearing in Technical  Communication and grant STC permission to post the articles on Technical Communication Online for an indefinite period. STC will grant colleges, universities, and libraries the right to use the articles free of charge for educational purposes.