Are you thinking of writing for Creation magazine?
BEFORE YOU WRITE (if you haven’t already):
Consider sending in an outline
It can be a big timesaving for everyone concerned, especially you, if you first submit a brief rough outline of your intended article as a series of short, note-form bullet points (don’t worry about fluent prose). That can help us give advice at an early stage, and not just of whether it is likely to be an article we would be interested in assessing further. We might well be able to advise how it could be made more likely to be a desirable article for us. That might include adjusting the sequence in which the points emerge, ensuring that certain important information is included, and possibly suggesting an additional ‘angle’.
Check our past articles
It’s a very good idea to check creation.com first to see what we’ve published already on your chosen topic. It doesn’t mean we won’t welcome a subject being revisited, especially if there is a fresh aspect or angle. But it may well inform your own article, perhaps providing important relevant points, and could even prevent error in some cases. And it could be a source of good references. It will also help avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.
Submitting your article for Creation magazine
Present it neatly, double-spaced, with wide margins and no mess. Email it to us preferably saved as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) or (secondarily) OpenDocument Text (.odt). RTF is safer in terms of inadvertently including malicious macros. RTF (or .odt) saves the formatting from Microsoft Word or whatever word processing program you use. It also means that we can open it in Word, even though you might have used another program.
WHAT WE LIKE TO SEE
If your manuscript is messy with spelling errors the editors will instantly gain a bad impression of your article. If you write ‘Ayres Rock’ and the editor knows it’s really ‘Ayers Rock’, or you write ‘Nicholas Steno’ and the editor knows it should be ‘Nicolaus Steno’, or you say that Charles Darwin was an eighteenth-century mathematician and the editor knows that both those ‘facts’ are wrong, he or she will be wary of everything else in your article. Check every name, date, and other fact in your ‘final’ version.
Too many articles begin with a sleep-inducing phrase like, ‘The purpose of this paper is … ’. There are more interesting ways of getting your message across. Study a few newspaper reports and feature articles. You will find the reports give the most interesting facts first, and the feature articles use a variety of methods to catch and keep the reader’s attention. Editors like articles to get to the point quickly and to do it in an interesting way. If we have to do this ourselves, it increases the likelihood that your article won’t be used.
Logical sequence and structure on a theme
Present the points in your article in a clear and logical sequence. And make sure the final paragraphs are built on all that has gone before. It helps to write down your aim before you start, and to ensure that the article’s separate points reinforce its main theme, rather than being a series of unconnected points.
It’s ideal for your final paragraph or two to:
- be an interesting summary or conclusion based on what you have already written in the article;
- make a strong (and positive rather than negative) point which backs up your article;
- be an interesting note to end on;
- not leave the reader wondering why you are ending the article there.
Mentioning people helps reader involvement. So does saying ‘you’ instead of ‘we’, ‘one’, ‘our’.) Generally avoid first-person references though, such as ‘I think’ or ‘I believe’. Your article should be strong enough to make the point without this. Also, your stance will already be obvious from what you have written.
Short or medium-length articles
In today’s busy world, most readers prefer shorter articles. In Creation magazine, we like articles to be no more than 1,500 words. Less is even better. An interesting 500-word article will be read by almost every reader. The longer the article, the more likely it is that many readers won’t finish it.
Articles that are clearly aimed at, and which involve, the reader
Articles that say, ‘You may not know …’, ‘Have you ever seen … ’, ‘How do you explain … ’, and so on show that the writer is clearly targeting the reader to gain his or her attention. It’s a better way to keep attention than saying, ‘One may not know … ’, ‘The reader may never have seen … ’, etc.
Articles where the facts can be backed up
We like to see facts that can be backed up, not speculation. If your article has to come to a speculative conclusion based on a lot of facts you’ve given, with references—that can be OK. (Although, if it is an entirely new proposal or model, we prefer these to be submitted to the Journal of Creation first for peer review so they first have shown they can survive the evaluation—and criticism where appropriate—from the creationist scientific community.) But don’t build speculations into a conclusion. The most interesting articles usually contain anecdotes, quotes, and lots of facts.
Readability: Simple words, short sentences, and short paragraphs
Except in technical articles, we like to see simple words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Why say something is ‘operational’ when you simply mean it ‘works’? Why write ‘expiration’ if ‘end’ will do? Why write ‘ventilation’ if ‘air’ will do?
Explain, simply, who people are, and the significance of events you mention in your article.
Likewise, why write ‘at this point in time’ when ‘now’ is better? Get rid of unnecessary words and simplify where possible. Instead of using a sentence that is 50 words long, break up the thoughts and make two or three shorter sentences. Studies have shown that article readability is negatively affected by overlong sentences.
In fact, we try to aim our articles for a Grade 10 (Year 10) readership. (See the instructions about the ‘self-test’ for readability later on.)
Avoidance of passive voice where possible
Research has consistently shown that use of active voice is easier to understand and more engaging, etc. A good idea is to check for that as a separate exercise after you think you’ve finished. (Occasionally it may work better for an isolated use, but that’s rare.) E.g:
Passive (2 x): “Whenever such books are read by students, they begin to wonder about what they are being told by their teachers.”
Active instead: “Whenever students read such books, they begin to wonder about what their teachers are telling them.”
Articles that suit Creation magazine’s purpose
You wouldn’t send motoring articles to a cooking magazine, or real estate articles to a computer magazine. So make sure the articles you send to Creation magazine are about creation-related issues. And that doesn’t just mean ‘My article is about God, and since He is the one who created, my article is creation-related by definition’. Our mandate at Creation Ministries International (CMI) is upholding and defending the authority of the Bible, using evidences and arguments, particularly in relation to the common Genesis-related challenges to the faith in this ‘evolutionized’ age.
Your article may be a wonderful and fitting sermon topic, e.g. about how contemplating the way a seed ‘dies’ is a biblically fitting metaphor for both Christ’s Resurrection and ours to come, but that’s not the genre we are looking for. Devotionals and analogies that move the heart have their place, but there are any number of Christian periodicals where that would fit. Our articles are aimed at countering objections (to the faith) which purport to be based on real-world evidence. We are arming and equipping believers who are often challenged today with such supposedly authoritative real-world evidence. We are also giving them ammunition they can use, pass on, and be encouraged by. For example, if one of their skeptical family members argues against the Bible on geological grounds, there is often an article in Creation magazine, still interesting for all readers, which will be specifically suitable to pass on. We try to cover a whole range of topics, because different people have differing issues, things they see as crucial to have answered. But all of them have the same broad aim of upholding the authority of the Bible in this particular arena.
Partly due to this adherence to the genre, many, many over the decades have become Christians as a result of the magazine’s ministry. And in the process, many times more believers will have had their faith greatly strengthened and been encouraged to reach out to others in greater confidence.
Anticipating and pre-empting objections
It can be helpful, even important, to anticipate the objections or criticisms that skeptics or evolutionists may make to any of your article’s point or points, and to incorporate ‘answers’ to these. These can be woven into the article without necessarily mentioning the objections overtly.
People and terms adequately explained
If you’ve mentioned names of people, organisations, or movements in your article, ensure adequate explanation. E.g. write ‘French chemist and biologist, Louis Pasteur’, rather than just his name alone the first time he is mentioned. Also, e.g., write, ‘the eighteenth-century philosophical movement, the Enlightenment’, rather than simply ‘the Enlightenment’, when the movement is mentioned for the first time.
The same for terms in general unless they are very common knowledge.
Consistency in spelling and style
Don’t spell something as e.g. ‘half-hearted’ one time and ‘halfhearted’ later. Don’t write ‘eighty-six years ago’ in one sentence and ‘86 years ago’ in another. (In any case, our style preference is that numbers one to nine are normally spelled out, with 10 and upwards taking figures.) Don’t say ‘the Specked Cuckoo’ one time and ‘the speckled cuckoo’ another.
Note that we use capital ‘f’ for ‘flood’ when referring to the biblical Flood of Noah (but lower case ‘f’ for ‘floodwaters’, even if Noah’s Flood).
Creation magazine uses a (consistent) combination of US and British spelling to suit our multinational readership, though most words with variations between the two take the British spelling as used in the majority of readers’ countries. US spellings we use consistently include ‘ize’ endings instead of ‘ise’, ‘sulfur’, not ‘sulphur’, ‘program’ not ‘programme’, ‘airplane’ not ‘aeroplane’ and ‘hemoglobin’/‘anesthetic’ etc., not ‘haemoglobin/anaesthetic’ etc. But its ‘travelled’, not ‘traveled’, and ‘favour’ not ‘favor’, litre/centimetre etc. not liter/centimeter etc.
Enhancing articles with images
Editors of full-colour magazines, such as Creation magazine, can more readily use an article that can be illustrated well than one that is difficult to illustrate. If you can suggest or provide colour pictures we could use in your article, please do. Note that if providing actual images, rather than just recommending them, you need to own the copyright or obtain (and show) formal written permission for its use in our magazine from the copyright owner. You may want to do a search of the images in Wikimedia Commons, which are often free to use, checking that they are high enough resolution (generally need to be well over 1 MB in size to reproduce well enough for the magazine). It’s great if you can provide screengrabs of those images (Ctrl+Windows+S for Windows operating system) and include them in the submitted article, e.g. in a table, along with a link to the picture. For more information about submitting images to CMI, click here.
INSTRUCTIONS TO FOLLOW
Use double quotes for actual quotations, including from the Bible. When using ‘scare quotes’, or highlighting words in a definitional sense, use single quotes. For example, if you want to say something like:
In this epistle, Paul uses the word ‘flesh’ to mean …
Whenever Jesus used the term ‘I am’, it inflamed his enemies in the religious establishment.
In both examples, though the words in quote marks appear in the text being referred to, your primary purpose is not a quote as such but to highlight the words in quote marks in a definitional sense (so single quotes as shown, please).
Where there are significant portions of quoted text, making up several lines of the article, these are known as ‘block quotes’—our style is to separate the block quote from the surrounding text, omit quote marks, and indent the block quote.
Put the reference at the end of the quote (not in a footnote), but before the full stop/period. E.g.:
“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
Treat block quotes same as for non-Bible quotes, except keep the quote marks.
Our ‘default’ version is the ESV. If there is a strong reason (other than personal preference for a particular version) to use a different version for a specific quote, go ahead. But let us know this via a ‘comment’ (the ‘comments’ function in your word processing program is great for this) which explains why, notes the version used (e.g. NIV, KJV), and provides the ESV form for easy comparison.
Dealing with measurements (length, weight, temperature, etc.
Use metric/SI measurements, but show the US/imperial equivalents afterwards in parentheses, converting to round numbers. Same for temperature: e.g.:
- Such animals seek shelter whenever it’s hotter than 30 °C (86 °F).
- These salamanders are about 8 cm (3 in) long on average.
It’s important not to exceed the accuracy of the number you’re converting, so it would not be appropriate to convert the salamander’s length to “3.15” inches, e.g.
However, we don’t show two versions of measurement for weight expressed as a tonnage; e.g. if the average weight of a blue whale is 135 tonnes (= metric tons) we would simply state that, and not show the conversion to tons (US long tons, which are imperial tons = 133; US short tons = 150).
References and notes
Use the footnotes (or endnotes) function, as that way the references renumber themselves automatically if any are deleted, added, or moved during the editing stage, which often happens. If they are not in that form, we may send the article back to you to convert each footnote/endnote into an automated one, which can be laborious.
Use the cross-referencing function of your word processor if referring to the same footnotes; that way the inserted cross-reference will also renumber if needed.
Check recent copies of the magazine to see the way we consistently set out references, which differs for web, book, and journal/magazine articles.
Keep explanatory footnotes (like a ‘side thought’) to a minimum, if having them at all; if something is worth conveying to the reader, it’s generally worth having it in the main text.
The references and quotes must be completely accurate; word for word in the case of quotes.
Provide reference text (or a working link)
Our policy has long been to have on file copies of all references from books, magazines, or web articles for any article we publish. So, we require these to be provided for all articles submitted. This can be very important, years down the track, if an article (or the proper context of a quote or even its accuracy) is challenged. It also helps our reviewers in assessing the article.
For example, if you quote in your article something from New Scientist of November 26, 1994, page 17, please attach a scan or photo of that page for us. If you quote from the London Times of June 7, 1995, page 3, attach a scan or clear photo of the relevant page, preferably showing the details you’ve given (publication, date, page number). If it’s from a book, also include the inside title page giving those details.
Here’s a sample reference list and what we would expect you to send to us:
- New Scientist 234(6842):17, 2002. [Send us page 17.]
- William Paley, The Works of William Paley, Vol. 4, ‘Natural Theology’, William Baynes and Son, London, pp. 1–3, 1825. [Send us a copy (scan or photo) of pages 1–3 plus the title page.]
(If an article is freely available online without any memberships or subscriptions, sending us the link is sufficient.)
Unicode for non-English fonts (e.g. Hebrew, Greek)
Always use Unicode characters for these, otherwise problems creep in when transposing to the layout program.
Self-test for readability
Nowadays we ask all authors to ‘self-test’ for ease of reading using the Flesch–Kincaid analysis. Please provide the score (grade level) together with your submission to show that it has ‘passed’ (or ‘almost passed’) this test. There are several ways available to do this in seconds. Microsoft Word has such a function built into the spelling and grammar checker, or there is a helpful free one on the web at free readability formula tests—just paste your text into the box it provides.
Tip 1: Subheadings need to have a period/full-stop inserted temporarily prior to this test. They don’t normally have one, and that means that the algorithm adds their word count to an adjacent sentence. So that will make the text look less readable by giving a longer overall sentence score.
Tip 2: The Flesch-Kincaid test tends to ‘mark down’ the readability of articles with several dinosaur names, despite these being perfectly comprehensible to an average 10-year-old. We’re aware of this, so don’t worry too much if your article is studded with these, and you can’t get the test to ‘pass’ if even after you’ve shortened sentences and otherwise made sure it’s really clear.
CHECKLIST (based on the above)
See if you can answer ‘yes’ to each question (the more the better!).
- Checked our articles on creation.com related to your article subject?
- Ensured your subject is relevant to the thrust of Creation magazine?
- Given your article one major theme throughout?
- Written down your aim, and checked that each part of your article fulfils or reinforces this, or works towards it, and flows easily?
- Incorporated some human interest in the article?
- Tried to avoid unnecessary speculation?
- Taken into account potential objections or criticisms by skeptics and evolutionists?
- Judged that your first paragraph is exciting or interesting enough to make the reader want to continue?
- Self-assessed your closing paragraph or two against the criteria in these guidelines?
- Tried to change difficult words and concepts into words that are easier to understand by the average reader?
- Double-checked that none of your sentences are overlong?
- Explained names, organisations, terms, etc. the first time used?
- Used Unicode characters for any Greek or Hebrew lettering?
- Provided the conversion for any measurement unit, and checked its accuracy (e.g. “10 metres (33 feet)”?
- Double-checked or triple-checked that all your facts, names, dates, etc. are absolutely accurate?
- Looked at past magazine copies to seek to structure and punctuate references for books and articles according to our style conventions?
- Provided the actual pages or links, as requested, of these references or sources?
- Assessed that your article is as short and compact as it could be?
- Deliberately searched for passive voice in your article before finalizing?
- Determined (and included) the readability score criteria, and did your article pass?
- Referenced all instances where your article raises issues that may be surprising or disputable?
- Been able to provide or suggest photos, diagrams, or other illustrations to make your article more attractive?
If you were able to say ‘yes’ to most of these, we’ll be very interested to see your manuscript. If it looks promising, it will undergo various review processes prior to approval which may take several months.
As Creation magazine is part of a non-profit, largely donation-funded Christian ministry, no payments are made for articles submitted from the public. However, authors will receive several complimentary copies of the issue in which their article appears.
As a general policy, to safeguard our ministry’s reputation in case an author should turn out to have, say, connections and sympathies which we could not endorse, articles and bios may not be such as to appear to promote or publicize external websites or publications which we have no control over nor capacity or desire to monitor or assess. However, if the bio says that you have authored a book on apologetics, say, and people google your name and find your ministry and/or books that way, that’s fine because we can’t be taken as having endorsed it or otherwise.
Please note that we also require all prospective authors to assign copyright to Creation Ministries International. (Whether or not you assert copyright, you as author are automatically the owner of the copyright on any original work you produce.) The link below has an online form that lets you do it in a few seconds, and it also explains why we do this (and it’s not to stifle your use of your own work😀).
After electronically ‘signing’ this copyright form, when you then submit your article, PLEASE REMEMBER TO TELL US that you’ve already done this to save wasting time with us having to ask and waiting for your answer.
WHERE TO SEND
Send articles to:
THANK YOU FROM THE TEAM AT CREATION MAGAZINE