Essay and Column Guidelines

Anthropology News is intended to be both a public face of anthropology and the publication of record for AAA. AN is by anthropologists and is for the discipline of anthropology. It relies on the work of volunteer writers, contributing editors and columnists to keep our readers informed about what’s going on in anthropology. Current AAA membership is required to publish in AN because membership dues support AN.

There are three kinds of contributors:

  • Authors contribute a single essay to AN as either arranged with the AN managing editor, or one of the regular contributing editors. Authors may participate in a thematic series, provide a one-time report, or contribute a stand-alone essay. Proposals are submitted online through the AN Proposals System or by contacting the AN Editorial Office directly. After editorial review and before publication, authors are required to fill out, sign and submit the AN Author Agreement form. This form is for contributors publishing a single essay or short series who are coordinating directly with the AN managing editor.
  • Contributing Editors have regular AN columns and are selected by their AAA Section, Committee, or other AAA group to manage the column. Contributing Editors have the option of writing each column themselves or recruiting writers. They are required to fill out, sign and submit the AN Editor and Columnist Agreement form. This is an annual agreement that covers the editor’s column for the calendar year.
  • Columnists are regular writers for AN’s Opinion section. Columnists usually write their own columns, but sometimes manage their space as contributing editors. They are selected by AN staff on an annual basis and are also required to fill out, sign and submit the AN Editor and Columnist Agreement form. This is an annual agreement that covers the columnist’s column for the calendar year.

Essays reflect the views of the authors and their publication does not signify endorsement by AN or AAA. Authors are welcome to express their opinions, but ad hominem attacks are unacceptable and any factual statements must be verifiable. It is each author’s and contributing editor’s  responsibility to be able to verify all factual information included. Go to our AN Policies page for more information.

Before publication, you will be asked to fill out, sign and submit the appropriate agreement form (the AN Author Agreement form or AN Editor and Columnist Agreement form). This is our standard release form used by all AAA editorial offices. The AN Editorial Office must have yours before your piece is published. This agreement protects the AN contributor and AAA from copyright infringement allegations, as well as unauthorized use of copyrighted material, while being as supportive of authors as possible. It is the policy of AAA not to publish work for which this agreement is missing.

Please note: the AN Author Agreement form and AN Editor and Columnist Agreement form cannot be filled out and submitted directly on the AN website. We recommend you save a copy to your computer, then fill it out with your information and save it. You may also print out a copy, fill it out by hand and mail it to AAA.

Publishing with Anthropology News

Starting in January 2013, AN publishes essays and reports online first—and continually—on The bimonthly AN print editions feature selected contributions (essays based on work in anthropology) from the website as well as matters of record for the association (traditional newsletter content). The AN Managing Editor will make all final decisions about what will be included in the print issues based primarily on reader feedback and usage metrics from, in addition to adhering to the space limitations of print. To help bring readers to, AN staff will share as much as possible through Twitter (@news4anthros), monthly TOC alerts and other avenues. However, we also strongly encourage you to take full advantage of your online social networks to help disseminate your columns.

If you are not publishing with a Section or Committee editor, you must check with the AN managing editor about whether it can be scheduled for inclusion in AN.

AN features several essay types. Content often reflects announced themes, but may also address unique topics. Several types of content are available and have strict word limits to keep with the AN news style and appeal to a wide audience.

Content Type    Word Limit
Commentary (In Focus and Independent) 1,600 words or less
Column (Op-Ed, Section News), News Feature, Field Notes, Teaching Strategies 1,000 words or less
Photo Essay 500 words or less, plus photos and captions
Photo Feature 200 words or less, plus one photo
Letter to the Editor 400 words or less for print. Responses to essays should be posted as a “Comment” online to promote timely discussion.

These word limits are for the main body of the piece—titles, bylines, brief captions, and brief biosketches do not count towards the total word count. Biosketches may not be more than 50 words. Keep with the AN news style to help stay within the word limit and to appeal to a wide audience. Multimedia content is encouraged. If you choose to include a photo or other media, be sure that you have clear permission from the owner to publish it in AN. Also include a clear caption and credit information for each. AN staff strongly prefers authors to stay within the word limit. Recognizing that online publishing can be more flexible, longer columns (over the 1000-word limit) by regular contributing editors and columnists can be accepted, however such longer pieces will not be included in the print edition.

To process the high volume of content that AN receives, editorial review is light. Please carefully review the Checklist for AN Content (below) to help guide you in finishing your contribution.

All AN essays and reports published online will be archived on AnthroSource (AAA’s digital repository), approximately four months after being published on, regardless of whether it appears in print. Once an essay is archived on AnthroSource, it will no longer be available on the AN website. AAA members—who support AN through their dues—will be able to continue to access all AN content through AnthroSource. AN maintains at list of the Table of Contents of archived issues on the website.

Rolling Online Deadlines

Deadlines for authors of one-time contributions are arranged either with the AN Managing Editor or Contributing Editor, depending on where the piece will be published (eg, part of a Section column, or part of a thematic series).

AN’s columnists and contributing editors submit their columns directly into WordPress. When they join AN, they are set up with an account,  WordPress user guidelines and of course AN Staff  is also available to help. Once an essay is submitted, AN staff requires up to 2 weeks to review and schedule the column for publication. Editors and Columnists are asked to indicate when they’d like the column to go live. Publication of essays submitted directly to the AN Managing Editor are scheduled on a case-by-case basis, depending on context: Is the essay part of a thematic series? Does it respond to current events in the main news outlets? Is the information available to the public only after a certain date?

Print Deadlines Require Two Month Lead Time

Print AN will go out on a bimonthly basis. Any column may be selected from to be included in the print, based on website metrics. Print AN will also include association matters and other traditional newsletter content for the association as a whole. As our Sections are integral to AAA, print AN will have dedicated space for Section News in print for Mar/Apr, Jul/Aug, and Nov/Dec, in addition to their monthly online columns. Section editors are encouraged to use their print space for matters of record, and publish time-sensitive columns online, where it can be shared easily with your online networks. AAA regular columns that may appear in any print issue include the columns by the AAA president, the AAA annual meeting program chair(s), CfHR, CoE, CoPAPIA, CoPP and CWA.

Print content is due to the AN managing editor two months before the print issue date. A Section/Committee editor can use one of their online columns as a print column for a particular issue.

Print Issue Date Print Content Deadline Notes
Jan/Feb Nov 1
Mar/Apr Jan 3 Section News guaranteed in this issue
May/Jun Mar 1
Jul/Aug May 1 Section News guaranteed in this issue
Sept/Oct Jul 1
Nov/Dec Sept 1 Section News guaranteed in this issue

The Print Content Deadline date is also the closing date for the metrics the AN managing editor uses to determine the rest of the AN print content.

Checklist for AN Content

AN is an anthropology news source, not a scholarly journal. AN content is much briefer and intended for a wider audience than scholarly journal articles. Please see AAA’s list of journals for information about AAA’s wide range of peer-review publications. AN columns are intended to (1) explore issues relevant to the discipline from an anthropological perspective or (2) share traditional newsletter content with members.Use this Checklist to help make sure your piece is ready for publication.

Essay Guidelines

  • Essay is within the word limit
  • Title is included. Maximum recommended title length is 40 characters (including spaces)
  • Subtitle is optional. Maximum recommended subtitle length is 80 characters (including spaces)
  • Author name is included after the title/subtitle
  • Author biosketch is no more than 50 words and includes the author’s current affiliation. It will appear at the end of the essay.
  • Contributing editor information is no more than 50 words and appears after the author biosketch.
  • For pieces over 1,000 words, the text is organized into 3-4 subheadings
  • No endnotes, footnotes, bibliographies. Any citations must be internal.
  • Essay is finalized and ready for publication. To keep up with the speed of publishing with our limited staff resources, editorial review will be very light.
  • Include hyperlinks when appropriate.

Writing Suggestions

  • Limit the key points you wish to make to three or four; readers will be more likely to absorb and remember your piece if you help them to focus.
  • Keep in mind that most of your readers will not be familiar with your specialty and its particular jargon. Write for a broad and diverse anthropology audience. Avoid jargon.
  • Begin with the bottom line: feature the single most powerful sentence as the opening line. Consider: What is the main point of your piece? What is it that you would like the reader to remember most?
  • Your points and examples should clearly and effectively support your argument.
  • End with a brief statement of what it is that you want the reader to retain.
  • Feature concrete examples. This is the most effective communication device in a newspaper medium. Examples not only draw the reader into the subject more easily, they facilitate a much more rapid comprehension.

Multimedia (photographs, sketches, soundfiles)

  • Photographs and multimedia are encouraged.
  • Include a clear caption and credit information for each article of multimedia.
  • Be sure you have permission from the photo’s owner to print the photo. Please note: images copied from the internet still require explicit permission to post on for AN to avoid legal action. Creative commons or public domain images (with proper attribution) are most welcome.
  • Photos for print AN need to be high resolution – 300 dpi for print.
  • All photos need to be in sharp focus.
  • Submit visuals only as jpg, tif, or gif files. Do not submit original photos in MS Word or Powerpoint.
  • Soundfiles should be mp3s and are limited to 5 MB.

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  • By Anthropology News on June 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm

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  • By Anthropology News on May 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    [...] Most can be answered either with AN’s Essay and Column Guidelines or AN’s Policies. If not, email AN Managing Editor Amy [...]

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