Writing for TRAIL

Following our editorial guidelines will help the writing and editing process go smoothly!

Quick tips

Here is an adapted list of pointers from David Ogilvy, based on his 1982 “How to Write” memo:

  1. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  2. Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.
  3. If you must use jargon words (prehabilitation, pronation, LSD, gastrocnemius, dorsiflexion, for example) provide an explanation in layman’s terms. Readers may not have the same reading background or home language as you.
  4. Reference other experts’ words and research, giving credit.
  5. Never send an article on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  6. You can also ask a colleague to read it and comment on or edit it.
  7. Before you send your article, ask yourself if the message to the reader is crystal clear.
  8. Anecdotes, case studies, and personal experiences make the message more engaging, relatable, and compelling.

Find more writing tips, the New York Times has a recent guideline.

How long?

You’ll be given a word count. Use the counting function in your document to check you’re on track. You cannot translate the number of words per page you type, to the number of formatted, published pages.

  • A single page article is 120-220 words.
  • A double page spread may have 500 words. More images will result in less space for text.
  • A full feature article could be between four and eight pages, and 900 to 2,000 words. More images will result in less space for text.
  • A smaller contribution to a collaborative article will have its own guideline.

If you have any optional extra information, use a different colour text or highlight to show it.

Put a name to it

Suggest a short title, and add useful subheadings within the text to guide the reader. You’ll find that breaking the article into sections helps your writing process, as it forces you to organise your thoughts.

A single carriage return is fine to demarcate paragraphs. Our design programme will add appropriate spacing.

Images

Quality images can bring your article to life! If you’re sending them to us, use the highest resolution available. If the email goes over 10MB, consider sharing the images with WeTransfer.com or Dropbox.

If you have a great many images for us to choose from, preferably send them in low resolution.

Ask the photographer not to watermark images. We’ll always credit them in full in our own format.

Links

Since the magazine is digital and interactive, you can link to:

  • videos
  • diagrams
  • web articles
  • social media
  • sources

If there is anything you feel would enhance your message, include the URL in the text document and we’ll be sure to link it in the magazine. 

There’s no need to send us abbreviated Bit.ly links. The URL won’t be visible and therefore it doesn’t need to be short and tidy.

Examples of good writing

Some of our long-standing contributors only need a very light hand in the editing process, and their articles are consistently engaging.

Getting your hands on a published issue of TRAIL can help you understand the type of writing that works.

Get inspired by Coach Neville Beeton. This is the opening page for his TRAIL 30 article, Is Age Just a Number?

Coach Neville is age just a number TRAIL 30

Thank you for reading to the end of our editorial guidelines! Use them to make the writing and editing process easier for everyone. If you have any questions, mail us!

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