Submission Guidelines

Articles:    Writing for The Arrow does not have to be a scary process. The best way to learn more about a favorite topic is to write an article on it. These can range from a short paragraph essay on a particular subject to full-length multi-page articles. They can cover history, current news, modeling, or experiences from the N&W/VGN or predecessor railroads.
   Probably the best chance in being published is with short two to four page articles. Perfect grammar and spelling are not necessary. Our editorial staff checks all of that in the final product and makes you look good in the process.
   What is necessary is supporting information, drawings and photographs, or at least an idea of what you envision for the piece. The Archives are available for providing additional material to add to your article, but items from your collection will always help. Our publisher has cartographic (map making) capabilities and resources if maps are needed.
   To get started or if you have any questions, email our editor at
Marking:    Anything you submit can be returned after use. We prefer email as a quick means of communication. When submitting material, an email will let us know it’s coming and we’ll acknowledge its arrival via return email just as soon as it’s here.
   If you want your material returned, carefully mark it “return” with your name on each and every item. Without a name on an item it is likely to get “lost” in the files and be very difficult to retrieve. The name can be put on a “yellow sticky post-it” if writing on the object is not feasible (on an original timetable, for example). Please be diligent to put your name on everything.
Mailing:    Sending anything in the mail is a risk. This risk can be essentially eliminated by insuring valuable photographs, timetables, maps or similar un-replaceable items. Ask yourself “If this package were to be lost, would I be able to replace its contents easily?” If yes, regular mail is probably OK. If no, it is probably worth the nominal fee for insurance, certified mail, or return receipt mail.
   We take great care of photographic material while it’s here, and always use insured mail to return valuable images. We are not liable for any damage that occurs to photographic resources.
Handling:    Every effort is made to handle all material in the safest manner, and to date we have seen very little damage occur to contributors’ slides, negatives, or prints. Our publisher does all the scanning in-house, which means that your originals never leave their office, and reside in a fire-proof safe while there for scanning.
Format:    The absolute best format for an article is to cut and paste your text into an email. Second best is Microsoft Word, but we can handle nearly any type of file. With text programs, tabs are better than spaces, especially where trying to line up columns. Text in other programs depend on available conversion utilities. Preferred media are CDROMs and DVDs.
    Your submission should include any of the following:
        • Text, in one of the above formats
        • Supporting photographs, with captions
        • Maps, timetables, or drawings
        • Artwork or graphics (if applicable)
        • Your name on everything
    Note that there is no need to write full captions for thousands of photographs before layout. It is most efficient to only caption what is actually used, so captions are usually written after the photographs are selected for the book or article.
    For specific details on English, grammar, word usage, abbreviations, see the Style Guide.
Photos:    For black and white, 8X10 black and white prints are best, but we can work from smaller prints. Color prints are generally problematic, but a really sharp print can be used. To publish color, color slides are best with Kodachrome preferred, but non-Kodachromes can also be used. Most slides can be converted adequately to B&W. We also scan directly from both Black & White negatives and color negatives, and even large format negatives.
   If you are working on a color article, a fairly large number of images are necessary to get good layouts that work well. If you don’t have the photographic resources, we may be able to help. Anything in the second-generation we can probably handle with available resources.
   If you’re writing an article on early switchers, for example, it may be difficult to find color or even black and white photography. In general, the narrower (and older) the subject the more difficult it is to find supporting photography.
Slides & Negatives:    Slides are never demounted; they stay in their original mounts. They are not cleaned with any chemicals, and they’ll come back exactly as you sent them.
Maps & Drawings:    Maps, drawings, plans, or artwork should be as “clean” as possible. Average photocopies are sometimes difficult to work with. If you have an original, we can scan the original without having it sent out to a production firm, so send that material with the article.
Digital Scans:    In many cases reader scans are unacceptable for publication in color. There are many places where things can go awry, but this technology gets better all the time. Good scans are paramount to a quality magazine, and even with the many tools available in Photoshop, color reader scans are often not usable. We do, however accept scans, either via email or on CDs, and remember to format images for both PC and MAC. Please, please, when providing scans, submit only raw scans with no manipulation. Images manipulated in any way will be rejected - we simply lose control of image quality when scans are manipulated. While they might look great on your computer screen, monitors lie, and the results on the printed page are usually unacceptable. Again, please do not manipulate scanned images in any way.
Digital Photos:    Digital technology is advancing, and we do accept digital photos. We prefer tif images, not jpegs because jpegs have compression characteristics that result in less than ideal printing. Low resolution images are unacceptable. Digital images must be at least 4 megapixels to be useful at all, and again, it is best to shoot tif images rather than jpegs. Smaller images restrict our ability to run a photo larger than a postage stamp. Keep in mind that a half-page color image in the magazine is about 15 megs in tif format. A 350K jpeg simply won’t work. Again, no sharpening or other manipulation, please.
Image Resolution:    For all images, the resolution is the standard of measure that matters. The ultimate resolution is the resolution of the image and the actual dimensions of the image. For high-quality publishing, images need to be 300 dpi (dots per inch, or pixels per inch) at the actual size they're going to be run in the publication. For example, if an image is going to be one-half a page horizontal, the dimensions are about 8" wide by 5" tall. The image, therefore, would need to be 8" by 5" at 300 dpi. If an image is 4000 dpi, it can be quite small and still have enough data for high-quality reproduction. If, however, an image is 72 dpi (standard for the internet), it can be quite large and still not have enough data for high-quality reproduction. This is somewhat translatable into file size. For color reproduction, we shoot for at least 40 megs in a RGB image, and 12 megs in a  B&W image. Jpegs apply compression to an image to fit it into a smaller file size, but that comes at the expense of image quality. Our in-house scans are much larger than this, but for most reproduction those file sizes are adequate.
     When in doubt on any of the above items, or if you have other questions, contact our editor at ( for confirmation on what to send and how to send it. Thank You!

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