Writing for MD


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Monthly Developments Magazine welcomes unsolicited submissions on topics of interest to our readers. We will also respond to queries on whether a given article or topic is of interest, and can give writers guidance on how to proceed. Unfortunately we cannot offer payment for accepted articles. Authors are provided with a complimentary copy of the printed issue in which their article appears.

How to Submit
Please send a brief summary of your article’s topic and main points to be covered to Chad Brobst, Managing Editor, at cbrobst@interaction.org. Summaries should be sent at least one month prior to deadline. Articles should be sent as an MS Word document. We will normally edit for conciseness and style.

Writer Guidelines

Audience: MD’s primary audience is professional staff of U.S.-based NGOs engaged in international relief and development. Government officials, members of Congress, multi-lateral agency staff, southern NGO leaders, media, university professors and students and job-hunters also read MD.

Core themes include: sustainable development, disaster relief, refugees, environment, women, policy, communications, and news on our members' activities. MD also aims to cover other key topics including: southern NGOs, hunger, health, HIV/AIDS, education, grassroots constituency building, human rights-based approaches to development, youth, country-specific overviews, ethical standards, non-profit sector issues and volunteering. MD includes news and commentary on rapidly changing global events that affect international humanitarian work.

Content and Style: Monthly Developments articles are written in a clear, accessible, journalistic style. Writers should strive to capture the most interesting, relevant and current aspects of their story. Our most successful articles are written in a casual magazine style, rather than one more fitting an academic journal. We recommend author’s pretend they are talking to a busy NGO worker over a cup of coffee and have five minutes to get the person from clueless to sold using plain English.

All articles should begin with a “catchy” lead paragraph that makes the reader want to know more. This can be done in many ways: tell one individual’s compelling personal story; use a provocative quote; summarize a new trend; give a “real life” example of an abstract theory; or put a theme into historical context. Whenever possible, use direct quotes from individuals whose opinions the reader will respect or who are of interest to the reader. Incorporate the comments or viewpoints of southern NGOs whenever possible.

Be sure to mention any planned follow-up to the story: future meetings, upcoming reports, resolutions or recommendations. When possible, stories should end with the name and contact information (usually email or phone) of a contact person for those wishing further information. Please also provide relevant Internet URLs.

Articles will run with bylines—writer’s name, organizational affiliation and email address should be included with the submission.

People are much more likely to read stories that have pictures. We encourage writers to submit photographs or other illustrations to go with their story. Illustrations need to be of high quality and camera-ready. Photos should be high-resolution (300 dpi minimum and at least 3” x 5” size) and must be submitted electronically.

While we understand that many contributors wish to promote their organization’s programs and initiatives, please bear in mind that your submission should read more like a news story, and less like a press release or promotional piece. Please focus your stories on the compelling, overarching issue that is being addressed, and incorporate your organization’s projects in an accompanying sidebar if necessary.

Article submission does not guarantee inclusion in Monthly Developments Magazine. InterAction reserves the right to reject submissions for any reason.

Some additional pointers:

  • The article should focus on what is most exciting, innovative, unusual or controversial about the subject you are writing about.
  • The article should be succinct—do not quote numerous people saying the same things.
  • Avoid bureaucratic and official language, which is often found in government and UN documents, official summaries of conferences, etc. Try to rephrase the main points in direct, newsy language.
  • Try to include a variety of perspectives and people. For example, be sure to include the voices of southern participants when possible.
  • On matters of journalistic style (e.g., whether a person's title is capitalized), please consult the Associated Press Style Manual, readily available in bookstores. MD will in almost all cases use AP style, which tends to be less formal than, say, U.S. government style.
  • Be careful about attribution. When using quotes that originally appeared in a newspaper, TV news story, etc., give credit to that source. Try to work attribution gracefully into the story [e.g. "...Shah told The New York Times February 14]. When taking information from Web sites or other Internet resources (emails, newsgroups), credit the source. Avoid plagiarism—when in doubt, give attribution.
  • MD does not include footnote/endnote references. Any necessary attributions should be made within the article text itself.
  • Please include contact information or a web site URL so readers can get involved or find out more about it.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms—spell out the complete phrase or name the first time it's used. Not everyone knows what MBFR stands for. There is no need to spell the full name of NGO or USAID.


Length: Please be concise. Typical articles in MD are in the 1200 to 2000 word range.