BBC History Magazine: A Guide for Contributors
Thank you for your interest in BBC History Magazine. The following guidelines have been drawn
up for the benefit of potential contributors, though they are by no means exhaustive.
1. BBC History Magazine attempts to bring history of a high scholarly standard to a popular
readership. The magazine‘s readers include both committed historians — teachers,
students, academics, and museum and gallery workers, as well as history enthusiasts with
a great interest in a specialist area — and also general readers whose interest in the subject
runs from the simple appreciation of a ‗good story, well told‘ to the perception that a better
knowledge of history can enhance one‘s understanding of the modern world.
A successful article for BBC History Magazine is therefore:
a) topical or timely (the subject may be in the news, may be occasioned by the publication
of a new book or marks a forthcoming anniversary, etc.);
b) marries a strong narrative with analysis, content and historiography;
c) is written in such a way as to appeal both to the scholar and the general reader alike.
Contributors to BBC History Magazine are expected either to be historically literate journalists or
journalistically literate historians! We normally commission articles from writers with a proven
expertise in their subject. However, it is also important that contributors write for our specific
readership – neither that of an academic journal nor that of a tabloid newspaper.
Contributors and potential contributors are asked to consult the editor or other members of the
editorial staff before submitting an article, but the following points may be helpful:
BBC History Magazine does not use footnotes or endnotes but rather asks authors to
ensure that references are included within the body of their text. For example:
―On 16 December, 1888, in a letter to The Times, Gladstone said:
―In her commonplace book, Nightingale recorded in February 1860 that:
―This interpretation was challenged in the 1980s by Professor John Smith in his book ‘The
Tudor Revolution Re-examined~’
The lively use of quotations, whether from those involved in a particular narrative or as
subsequent historical commentary, is an important means of ensuring a feature article
retains its freshness. Quotations should not be of an excessive length however.
At an early stage in an article we encourage the author to refer to the reason why this is
being published (see note above). Thus, phrases such as ―Whose 200th anniversary falls
this month‖ or ―The theory is advanced in a new book published this month‖.
d) Historical Context
A strong narrative needs to be placed in a historical context. Authors are encouraged to
use their expertise to explain — briefly — the historical background and context to a
Because BBC History Magazine has a large number of academic readers it is important
that authors refer, at least in passing, to the opinions and interpretations of other
relevant historians when appropriate.
Authors are encouraged to list recommended further reading (title, author‘s name in full,
publisher and date), a selection of websites to consult, and places to visit for readers
who wish to take their interest in an article further.
g) Personal Biography
Authors are asked to append a short personal biography with their articles
John Smith is Professor of History at New Town University and author of The Tudor
Revolution Re-examined. His latest book, Re-examining the Tudor Revolution is
published this month (Jolly Good Publishers, £25.00).
It is difficult to give an exact guideline to contributors other than when they are formally
commissioned, but generally our feature articles average 1200, 1800, 2400 or 3000 words in
length, depending on the layout adopted. Writers considering submitting synopses or
unsolicited manuscripts should bear this in mind.
BBC History Magazine is committed to using the best possible illustrations for its features and
other articles. Contributors are asked to indicate the origin of illustrations if they are submitting
articles on little/lesser known topics. We encourage co-operation between authors and our
BBC History Magazine welcomes approaches from prospective contributors. When a firm
decision to commission an article is made, the writer will be sent a commissioning form outlining
standard BBC terms.
7. Lead Times
Although we value our flexibility and ability to change features at a comparatively late date, BBC
History Magazine, in common with other monthly titles, needs to plan its future publishing
schedules. Commissioned manuscripts should be received at least two months before
publication and potential contributors considering submitting material are asked to contact the
magazine at least three months before the proposed publication date of their article.
Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
BBC History Magazine receives a large number of unsolicited manuscript submissions. We
cannot guarantee to reply to everyone, or to reply quickly, but if the editor is interested in your
article, he will be in touch.