This online resource is designed to help you prepare your content for submission to the Backpacking Light editorial staff.
- Story Submission
- Style Guidelines
- Nomenclature Guidelines
- Photo Submission Guidelines
- Audio Submission Guidelines
- Video Submission Guidelines
Authors will be assigned a Google Doc file for developing / submitting their story.
Narratives can be written in either past (trip report style) or present (in-the-moment journal style) tense. Be consistent and consider whether you are writing about a past event, or a present action.
Generally, try to preserve present tense whenever possible in technical writing such as reviews.
Passive voice should be limited to rare instances when active voice creates a poorly flowing sentence structure.
For either bulleted or numbered lists, please adhere to the following guidelines:
- Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the list.
- Punctuate list items if they are complete sentences or verb phrases, and use a period in both cases. For list items that are not sentences or verb phrases, do not punctuate at the end of the list item.
- List items should be written with parallel sentence / verb fragment construction.
Use a numbered list when: your list designates a chronology or sequence, ranking of importance, or reflect an exact number stated in the lead-in statement.
Use a bulleted list for other lists.
Numbers and Units of Measure
- Please include both Imperial and SI units:
- In technical or scientific text, physical quantities and units of time are expressed in numerals, whether whole numbers or fractions, almost always followed by an abbreviated form of the unit. However, a unit of measurement used without a numeral should always be spelled out, even in scientific contexts.
- 50 km (kilometers)
- 4.5 L (liters)
- 240 V (volts)
- 85 g (grams)
- Use hyphens sparingly, but wisely. Hyphenate age terms and numbers or measurements when spelled out before a noun.
- A thirty-year-old woman
- A fifty-mile trek
- In technical or scientific text, use of the degree symbol (°) is unnecessary, as it is implied.
Please organize your article into a well-outlined narrative, using headings as appropriate.
Note the following guidelines:
- Use level 2 Headings (Heading 2 / <h2>) as your top-level headings, and then Heading 3, Heading 4, and Heading 5 as subheadings.
- Don’t use heading levels of 6, 7, 8 etc.
- Don’t use Heading 1 (<h1>), as this tag is reserved for your article title.
- Try to limit your word count below each heading to 300 words or less. If you have more narrative than this, split the longer content using subheadings as appropriate.
- Few, if any people, will read your article all the way through at first – they will scan and skim and scroll. So, if you have engaging headings that make sense and entice the reader, they will be more likely to read your article. Practice writing headings. Here are some guidelines / suggestions:
- No adjectives or adverbs;
- No superlatives;
- Use clear, concise descriptions of the content;
- Frame your headline as a question;
- Start your article with a level 2 headline section titled “Introduction” or “Overview”;
- End your article with a level 2 headline / section titled “Conclusion” or “Summary”.
- Place punctuation inside quotes, as a general rule.
- Use a comma in compound sentences (two nouns and two verbs).
- Use “space dash space” between words, rather than an em or en dash (standard in internet publishing).
- Do not make gear possessive.
- “McHale Subpop pack,” NOT “McHale’s Subpop pack”
- Do not use apostrophes with plural numbers unless the number is actually a possessive.
- In the 1990s
- The 1990’s growth
- Do not type two spaces after a period! One space only, please. We no longer use typewriters!
Please make all efforts to use nomenclature in a style and manner consistent with Backpacking Light.
|AM (time)||downproof||fry pan||ml||Polarguard Delta||single wall||underquilt|
|air flow||drawcord||Gore-Tex||MontBell||poncho/tarp||snowshoe||waistbelt (use hipbelt)|
|axe||Dryloft||Graupel (snow pellets)||no-frills||pot stand||softshell||water resistance rated|
|backcountry||durable water-repellent finish (in text)||guyline||no-see-um||PrimaLoft||spring, summer, fall, winter (not capitalized)||waterproof|
|backpanel||DWR (in specs)||guyout||non-breathable||rain shell||storm flap||waterproof/breathable (in text)|
|base weight||e.g.||hipbelt||north, south, east, west (not capitalized)||rainfly||three-layer||WPB (in specs)|
|bushwhacking||Epic (rather than EPIC)||i.e.||PM (time)||ripstop||three-season||watertight|
|cookpot||field testing||LED||pack weight||set up (v)||thru-hiker||watts (in text)|
|30 denier (in text)||fly fishing||lightweight (adj.)||packbag||set-up (n)||tieout||W (in specs)|
|30d (in specs)||framesheet||men’s M (in specs||piezoelectric||sidehill||two-piece||windscreen|
|downhill||freestanding||men’s medium (in text)||Polarguard 3D||silicone-impregnated||ultralight||windshirt|
Photos comprise a significant and increasing proportion of Backpacking Light editorial content. They are frequently the most important part of a given article or feature and are extremely important for reviews, DIY articles, and many technical inquiries. Photographs are also of incalculable value in conveying the beauty of places we visit and the excitement of our various adventures. Along with increasing the skills of our readers, we must always be mindful that we’re ambassadors for our sport and are key to attracting new backpackers. To that end, please keep in mind the following:
- Take and submit more shots than you think you need to give the editors a choice. Provide sufficient notes to assure we correctly identify and caption every place, thing, and person.
- If submitting illustrations or maps, they must be publication-ready, and you may be asked to edit them further after review.
- Think about the story you are trying to tell with each photo and ensure that the resulting photos look as though they belong together.
- Please set your camera to its highest resolution and quality settings.
Images should be at least 1,600 pixels wide and uploaded as uncompressed JPG’s. When you insert them into your article, please insert them into their own line and center them. We may change that layout as your article goes into production, but this method is essential so we can understand how you want your story to flow. Add captions to images that include an image description if it’s not clear from the story, and/or a photo credit if the image credit does not belong to the article author.
Editing your photos: Here’s a great photography basics guide from Lifehacker.
Tables, illustrations, and other elements – instructions are provided in your assigned Google Doc.
Photo File Naming, Captions
Your photo filenames should contain, at minimum, your last name and one or two notable keywords related to the story that they are accompanying, suffixed with an index number (“-1”, “-2”, etc.) to help identify its order of appearance in the story.
Captions should be noted in the “Caption” field when you upload your photo (see above for more info about captions).
Upload audio as “media”, same as you would a photo.
- Format: .mp3
- Minimum Bit Rate: 64 kbps (can be lower for call-in audio due to quality).
- File Size: unimportant.
Upload video to Youtube or Vimeo, and insert the direct link (not the embed code) into your article on its own line where you want the video to appear.
- Format: Youtube or Vimeo only, 720p HD minimum