Writing Tips

Keep in mind our diverse audience and mission: to encourage, inspire, and equip.

If your article tends toward equipping, it should be a “how to” article rather than an “ought to” one. Respect your audience by not telling them what to think, but rather how to think on a subject. The best approach is to lay out the facts in the most logical and convincing manner and then leave the reader to make his or her own conclusions.

Feel free to write in either Commonwealth English or American English.

We publish articles by authors from the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, Canada, Japan, etc. Indicate your passport country or “English of preference” and we’ll edit according to our “dual standard” style guide.

Show, don’t tell.

Try to use words that help the reader experience your story. This can be done by using dialogue, tapping into the five senses, or a combination of both. For example, “A church member asked me to start a new English class” could become, “As I shook the rain off my umbrella, a church member asked, ‘Can we start a new English class for my friends?'”

Keep your writing succinct.

Showing may take longer than telling, but you can still be concise. Look for places you can cut unnecessary words and still make your meaning clear. Divide longer sentences into shorter sentences. This increases comprehension.

Make sure everything you’ve written relates to the main idea of the article.

When you re-read your first draft, extraneous material should be removed. Avoid repetition of the same word several times in the same paragraph. Try to rephrase or use a substitute. (Be careful to avoid semi-repetition: e.g. Sue was given the gifting of hospitality.)

Choose active over passive voice.

For example, instead of saying: “The tracts were dropped in 5,000 letterboxes,” try, “We distributed 5,000 tracts.”

Choose strong, interesting words over weak, common words.

For example, “walked” could be “trudged” or “stumbled”or “hurried.” “Saw” could be “noticed” or “observed” or “glimpsed.”

Minimize use of exclamation marks, boldface, and italics.

These tools lose their impact when overused. ALL CAPS feels like shouting, and should almost never be used.

Ask someone to read over your article before you submit it.

Get constructive feedback on your writing so that you can communicate your message to your audience clearly and attractively.

Use only one space after a period/full-stop.

Regardless of what you may have been taught or read, a single space at the end of a sentence is the standard for most professional publishing today.

Pay attention to grammar and style

Jack Lynch’s online guide is one place to research your grammar or style questions.

Submit your work in either Microsoft Word or as an RTF (“Rich Text Format”) document.

Our editors use the tracking feature of Microsoft Word to faciliate the editing process.

Please don’t insert text boxes or images into your document.

This only increases our volunteer editors’ workload. We must remove all of these items before editing. Photos and graphics should be attached separately to an email.

Reference direct quotes with numbered endnotes.

Please do not use Microsoft Word’s footnote function. If you would like further information on correct referencing, please contact us.

For Scripture quotes, please note the version of the Bible you are using.

With so many English Bible versions available, determining the version used by an author can take considerable time if it is not one of the more commonly referenced versions.

Check your article one more time before submitting it.

  • Have I read over my work at least twice, eliminating unnecessary words?
  • Have I asked one other person to read my article over and comment on it before I submit it?
  • Did I stick to one main point?
  • Is my article under 1,200 words, or column under 650 words?
  • Are there only single spaces after my periods/full stops?
  • Have I used minimal formatting?

Email your contribution to the managing editor.

Send it to Wendy Marshall (wmarshall [ at mark ] jema.org). An editor will try to get back to you promptly.