Public Libraries Editorial Guidelines

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Public Libraries is always eager to publish quality work of interest to public librarians and public library staff members. We accept:

  • Feature articles (ten to twenty pages double-spaced). Contact Kathleen Hughes.
  • “Verso” pieces (opinion pieces no longer than six pages). Contact Kathleen Hughes.
  • News items for “Tales from the Front." Contact Jennifer Ries-Taggart.
  • Items for “News from PLA." Contact Kathleen Hughes.
  • Vendor announcements. Contact Vicki Nesting.
  • Reviews of professional literature. Contact  Julie Elliott.

Please follow the editorial guidelines below when preparing manuscripts for submission to  Public Libraries.


All manuscripts should be submitted to Public Libraries as an e-mail attachment (preferably in Word format). Please include your name and the type of word processing program used in the body of the email. Do not use automatic formatting templates. Make the manuscript format as simple as possible. Complicated formatting creates problems for our desktop publishing software.

  • Justify text on the left margin only.
  • Double-space the entire manuscript, including quotes and references.
  • Number all pages.
  • Add two hard returns between paragraphs to delineate them. Do not indent at the start of a new paragraph.
  • Do not use the automatic footnote feature on your word processing program. Create footnotes manually at the end of the article.
  • Do not use any characters that do not appear on the standard keyboard, such as bullets or arrows. These are embedded during the desktop publishing process.


  • Cover page. Submit a separate cover page stating the author’s name and a brief, descriptive title of the proposed article. The author’s name should not appear anywhere else on the manuscript.
  • Abstract. Include two or three sentences summarizing the content of the article before the first paragraph of the text.
  • References. Public Libraries uses numbered endnotes. References should appear at the end of the paper in the order in which they are cited in the text. Bibliographic references should not include works not cited in the text. See past issues of the journal for the preferred form for citations.
  • Consult the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary for spelling and usage.
  • Consult the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr., 2010) for capitalization, abbreviations, etc.
  • Write in a clear, simple style. Use the active voice whenever possible. Avoid overly long sentences.
  • Break up long sections of text with subheadings. All nouns, verbs, pronouns and modifiers in the subhead should be capitalized.
  • Photographs enhancing the content of the manuscript are welcomed. If you are taking the pictures, please set your digital camera to the highest possible resolution.
  • Articles are edited for clarity and space. When extensive revision is required, the manuscript is returned to the author for approval.

Tables and Graphs

  • Tables and graphs should be prepared using a spreadsheet program such as Lotus or Excel, if possible.
  • Number tables and graphs consecutively and place each one on a separate page at the end of the manuscript. Indicate their placement within the text with the note [Insert Table 00 Here].
  • Give each table or graph a brief, descriptive caption.
  • Use tables and graphs sparingly. Consider the relationship of the tables and graphs to the text in light of the appearance on the printed page.
  • Provide data points for all graphs by marking them on the printout. In some instances a graph may benefit from being recreated on our software.
  • For complicated graphic materials such as maps or illustrations of Web pages, prepare separate TIF files. Save the graphics in a size similar to the size on the printed journal page; generally this should be 2.8 inches wide and not more than 5.5 inches deep. Saving to fit the size of the graphic on the printed page improves the quality of the printed graphic. Please include the URL of any web site in case we need to recapture the image.
  • You need not provide graphs in final form. If you prefer, you may provide a rough version or even a sketch. If so, please mark all data points clearly. We will create the graphic. You will have a chance to review the graphic when you review your typeset pages during the proofing stage.

Acceptance and After

Manuscripts are evaluated by persons knowledgeable about the topic of the work and the Feature Editor. The evaluation process generally takes eight to twelve weeks. Articles are scheduled for publication mostly in the order of acceptance, except where space considerations dictate. For example, the number of pages available might require a longer or shorter article to complete the issue's allotted sixty-four pages.

Send the original, along with your name, address, telephone, fax, and e-mail address to:

Kathleen M. Hughes, Editor
Public Libraries
50 E. Huron
Chicago, IL 60611

Queries can be emailed to

Receipt of all manuscripts is acknowledged. However, hard copies of manuscripts cannot be returned unless a self-addressed envelope large enough to contain the manuscript and with sufficient postage is provided. Please feel free to contact either Kathleen Hughes at the PLA office at 800-545-2433, ext. 4028 for more information.