Authors Welcome! – Writing for The Naval Review

Authors Welcome! – Writing for The Naval Review

Although guidance is often asked for, I am hesitant in proffering what might also be seen as constraints on those wanting to write for The Naval Review.  First and foremost, it is about promoting a conversation, expressing opinions amongst friends, educating and developing arguments that members might draw upon thereafter.  As your editor, I am not here as a writing style critic; so, I am entirely relaxed as to whether you write in the first or third person, write emphasising points with humour or by taking a drier academic approach.  The only restraint I would place on authors is that this Review is about fermenting not fomenting.  Fermenting ideas, arguments and understanding, and not fomenting sound-bite type debates that usually oversimplify complex issues and heighten discord or offend, or worse, polarise.  Use facts you can verify, references that can be traced and avoid the more ephemeral rumours/superstitions, (fake news) circulating in the media.  So, with that in mind, what follows proffers guidance for authors in submitting material to The Naval Review.  This guidance supersedes all previous versions.

The ideal article length is between 2000 and 4000 words.  Neither figure should be considered as either a limit or target – articles will only be accepted on merit, which means overly long articles may have to be published in instalments. But, in pursuit of the Naval Review’s purpose (“…. advancement and spreading of knowledge relevant to the higher aspects of the naval profession”) perhaps I should remind budding authors of Churchill’s views on the value of brevity, in his memorandum to his war cabinet in 1940: “to do our work, we all have to read a mass of papers.  Nearly all of them are far too long.  This wastes time, while energy has to be spent in looking for the essential points.”  Longer more verbose articles can often lose a busy reader’s attention, meaning the author’s efforts are for nought.  We need plain English, pithy cases and arguments that tease the brain, generate thought and arm members with ideas that they might, thereafter, apply for effect where it counts.

In submitting material authors grant The Naval Review an automatic and simultaneous, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable, fully sub-licensable and transferable licence to use, record, sell, lease, reproduce, create derivative work from, alter, change and otherwise exploit, the content in whole or in part.  And authors in submitting material also implicitly vouch for their compliance with the law in respect of copyright, security, libel, obscenity, all forms of discrimination, and sedition.

With respect to copyright once an article is published in the Review, with the author’s and editor’s permission, articles may be re-printed in other journals, provided that reprint acknowledges The Naval Review in doing so.

Authorship can be either by name or nom-de-plume (the proper name of the author will be protected by The Naval Review for 30 years unless the author indicates otherwise or is deceased).  If using proper names, the author’s abbreviated rank and Service but not post-nominals will be shown at the end of the article. For those not on the active list the nomenclature (retd.) will be used against any rank – the rational being it indicates the degree of freedom an individual has in expressing opinions; that will necessarily be more restrained among serving authors.

I am happy to receive material in most formats; albeit electronic transmission (e-mail, CD, USB stick, Flash Card etc.) as a Microsoft Word or Apple Pages document is much preferred.  And please ensure that the dictionary settings applied to any document is UK English and not other spelling variants.

To ease subsequent editing (that aims to ensure consistency and readability throughout the journal) authors are encouraged to adhere to the following guide:

  • Each article needs to be headed by a brief summary, under the main title, to capture the essence of the article and to attract the busy reader – it’s your advert for what follows!
  • Sub-headings often break up the text, especially in longer articles developing a complex argument.
  • Brevity wins hands down – complex arguments delivered succinctly are much more likely to be taken on-board by the reader than a overly weighty worthy tome.
  • Within an article short also is best. Both in terms of length of paragraph and sentence (allow the reader to breathe!).
  • Write as if to the British public, using terms and commodities more commonly understood – too often in the military we revert to self-justified arguments, in obscure ‘defence speak’, that completely fail to play to the average person’s concerns. So, when in doubt, use plain, not convoluted or parochial English.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms should be avoided whenever possible. If essential, they should be expanded on the first occasion of use, with the abbreviation or acronym in brackets. Remember, a good proportion of our members are not currently serving officers and improved comprehension is often inversely proportional to the number of acronyms used.
  • Endnotes not footnotes as a routine. Endnotes can be important evidence of the provenance and authority of articles, and they may be necessary to meet normal acknowledgement courtesies.  However, I reserve the right not to publish them if space or other reasons make this impractical or inappropriate.  Bibliographies will not normally be published.
  • In the endnotes to assist the reader who wishes to check the evidence, references should include at least name of author, title of publication, publisher, place and year of publication and, preferably, page number.  When it comes to links to web pages etc.  after the link, where possible, the original date of the material being accessed should be included.  I will endeavour to check all links myself.  If they fail to work, or breach the compliance statement above, I will remove the link from the endnotes.
  • Photographs, sketch maps and diagrams are particularly welcomed and will be printed in their original colours if this is technically possible and affordable. It would be helpful if authors would indicate as to the placing of any illustration within an article.  Also, each illustration should be underscored by a caption describing what it depicts.

With each edition of the journal submission deadlines for subsequent journals will be published.  I attempt to leave authors as much time as possible but there has to be a realistic cut off date to permit editing, proof setting, proof reading and printing.  We are a very small team so not viewing those submission dates as targets would be most appreciated – the earlier I receive your thoughts, the better.

Only by practice, like any skill, is one able to put convincing cases on paper.  Only by testing the ideas amongst other professionals is one able to refine those cases further.  And only by doing both is the maritime case going to be properly supported.  The Naval Review is the ground upon which to hone these skills.

In addition, it would assist greatly in the editing process if whilst drafting articles authors would adhere to the following conventions I will use in editing and proof reading submitted articles:

  • Terms:
    • Any reference to The Naval Review or any other publication or book title or film title should be shown in italics – even when referred to by its acronym (e.g. NR).
    • Ship’s/Establishment’s names should be shown in italic (e.g. HMS Ark Royal / HMS Dryad).
    • The class of ship should be shown in italics (e.g. Leander class).
    • Battle titles should be shown in lower-case (e.g. Battle of Savo Island). In referring to a series, express as e.g. the Third Battle of Ypres not 3rd Battle of Ypres.
    • Operation titles should be in upper-case (e.g. Operation GRITROCK).
    • Exercise titles should also be in upper-case (e.g. Exercise SAXON WARRIOR).
    • Century references are to be numeric (e.g. 20th century, not ‘twentieth’).
    • When referring to any one of the armed forces by the term Service or Services the word must start with a capital letter.
    • The terms Combined (allies bound by treaty working together), Coalition (multiple countries not necessarily allies working together) and Joint (Services working together) must start with an uppercase first letter.
    • With reference to NATO, countries belonging to the organisation, the Alliance (capital first letter), are referred to as Allies (capital first letter).
    • With reference to the EU, UN, OSCE, AU, GCC etc. countries belonging to those organisations are referred to as Member States.
    • As a routine Persian Gulf, not Arabian Gulf, is to be used.
    • Use of the term Dardanelles versus Canakkale or Bosphorus versus Istanbul Straits is dependent on the context of the article. Authors must be aware of particular sensitivity in naming conventions when it comes to the geography of Turkey, Greece and Cyprus amongst those countries.
  • English & Punctuation:
    • English spelling of ‘ise’ words (e.g. organise, not organize)
    • Quotes referring to a title or term use single inverted commas (e.g. ‘special relationship’)
    • Quotes covering a passage of text or reported conversation double inverted commas (e.g. “as a model of deepened partnership, on need look no further than that between the RN and the USN”)
    • When referring to an officer or officers in general, then the first letter (‘o’) should be in lower case. Uppercase ‘O’ should be used when using the word officer as a title: e.g. Principal Warfare Officer, Commanding Officer, etc.
  • Acronyms:
    • Ministry of Defence referred to as MoD (lower-case ‘o’)
    • With reference to NATO (acronym always in upper-case) the word Allied or Allies must start with a capital letter.
    • Acronyms usually should be shown in uppercase (e.g. NATO, UN, EU, AU, OSCE, GCC, FCO etc. Exceptions to this convention are Ministry of Defence (MoD), Department for International Development (DfID) and Department of Defence (DoD)
    • First Sea Lord (abbreviated as 1SL) not 1st Sea Lord.
    • First World War or WWI only.
    • Second World War or WWII only.
  • Numbers:
    • Neither months nor years should be abbreviated (e.g. January 2011)
    • Currency: $2bn (billion), £3m (million), €4tr (trillion).
    • Thousands are separated by a comma e.g. 1,200 or 1,000,000
    • With respect to fractions, decimal points not commas should be used, i.e. 1.25
    • The numbers 1 to 9 are always written as words.
    • When referring to a quantity of objects always use numbers (i.e. 25 ships not twenty-five ships) unless the number starts the sentence.
    • The 24-hour clock should be shown as 14:25hrs.
    • The 12 hour clock shown as 12am or 2:30pm.
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Endnotes should be numerically referenced (i.e. 1, 2 , 3 etc. not i, ii, iii etc.)
    • Websites and internet references should be shown in italics but not underlined.
    • Abbreviations: i.e. not ie, e.g. not eg, etc. not etc
  • Please send your articles to me at:
  • Or by post to: Kennelway, Galmpton, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 3EY.

Bruce Williams – Editor