Submission guidelines

Submission guidelines
Online English lessons

We aim to make Asean News Today the ‘must read’ daily news and information portal for those living, investing or interested in the formation and ongoing development of the Asian Economic Community (AEC).

We therefore welcome submissions from appropriately qualified individuals living, working, or with an interest in the region which meet our editorial guidelines. If you have something to say about successes or failures in the region as it moves towards a real ‘AEC community’ here’s how. If your submission is not directly related to the Asean region it will not be considered:

Because our articles are written for a professional, English-speaking audience they ordinarily range between 800-2,000 words. If possible please supply photographs or graphics to accompany your story. Photographs or charts should be no smaller than 1120 x 860 pixels at 96 dpi.

Getting started

First decide what it is you want to write about and what it is you want to say (eg: Education reforms in [country/province/district] failing to deliver/delivering positive results).

Then put that into the first paragraph (A raft of education reforms initiated by the government of [name of prime minister/minister/officials] in [location: country/province/district] is starting to deliver/ failing to deliver positive results as demonstrated by.

Then, write down the points that you want to discuss or highlight (historical background, corruption, bureaucracy, lack of supervision, poor follow up, poorly targeted interventions, comparative data, etc).

Next, back up these points with links to evidence – numbers, statistics, past evidence or history, case studies or opinions – your own opinion, other opinions, those of your peers or people related to the topic. Put the link in brackets next to the relevant text instead of using hyperlinks or footnotes.

Once you have gathered facts and opinions, you have your basic material. Now go back to your title and check whether you have enough material to substantiate your idea – does it highlight the issue you are focusing on? If ‘yes’, start writing.

Rule #1: Keep it simple

Good writing is simple writing. Even when writing for a professional audience, avoid clichés and jargon. Read, re-read and strike out repetition, avoid or explain cultural references and any acronyms you use. Especially confirm the spelling of any people’s names or places in your story.

As a general rule, the most important facts, or a summary of them, go into the lead (first) paragraph and lessor facts into the subsequent ones.

Avoid quoting a multitude of facts and statistics in the opening paragraph. The use of short sentences and short words that are easily understood are more likely to encourage a reader to read on, than a wordy first paragraph crammed full of lengthy words.

A rule of thumb is that a paragraph should not be more than 30 words in length – considerably shorter than those used in academia where the tendency is to write lengthy paragraphs that are often far from concise and therefore difficult to comprehend.

Remember that the aim of writing is to impart information to the reader. Not to show how many big or obscure words you know.

Avoid the use of clichés, jargon, slang and acronyms as much as possible. Just because you know what Unesco is doesn’t mean that your readers will. Unless an organisation is so well known by its acronym as to be in everyday use give the full name at first reference with the acronym in brackets and then use its short form later.

Assume nothing about your audience when you sit down to write a story.

The keys to writing are:

  • Get the facts. All the facts you can
  • Tell your readers where you got every bit of information you put in your story
  • Be honest about what you do not know
  • Don’t try to write fancy. Keep it clear
  • Don’t omit important details
  • Disclose anything that might be considered by people to influence your writing,
    eg, if you travelled somewhere as a guest of an airline or hotel operator, say so.

Start your story with the most important thing that happened. This is called your “lead.” It should summarise the whole story in one sentence.

From there, add details that explain or illustrate what is going on. You might need to start with some background or “set the scene” with details of your observation.

Write the story as if you were telling it to a friend. Start with what’s most important, then add background or details.

Each time you introduce a new source, start a new paragraph. Each time you bring up a new point, start a new paragraph. Make sure that you tell the source for each bit of information you add to the story.

Whenever you quote someone’s exact words, put them within quotation (“ ”) marks and provide “attribution.” Avoid the tendency to fill a story up with paragraph after paragraph of quoted text. Reserve the use of direct quotes for points that have significant impact on the story.

To condense lengthy and often ambiguous quotes it is often better to “paraphrase” what a someone said. That means that you do not use the persons exact words, but reword it to make it shorter, or easier to understand. Quotation marks are not used around a paraphrase, but it is still necessary to attribute the comments.

Before submitting it to us read it aloud to yourself, pronouncing every word. This is a great way to pick up typos and to make sure your story flows from paragraph to paragraph.

Thank you for reading our submission guidelines.

Have an idea for us? To submit a pitch, or tell us your interest in writing for Asean News Today read the Code of Ethics that all of our staff and contributors must abide by and contact us.

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