Writers' Guidelines

What writers should know about The Banner

The Banner is the official monthly publication of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. It gets sent to more than 90,000 households of CRC members in both the United States and Canada, and to others who wish to receive it. The magazine seeks to inspire, inform, educate, and challenge church members, as well as to provide a "kitchen table" around which our diverse denomination can gather for discussion.

The Banner family encompasses all ages and many different cultural backgrounds, including Korean, Hispanic, Chinese, Cambodian, and Laotian, as well as African American and Dutch. Our readers are primarily adults, young and old, married and single, of all levels of income and education, of many vocations and professions. They are members of urban and rural churches in Canada and the U.S.

Writing Guidelines

Please note that the following guidelines apply to feature articles and columns only, not to news stories. For specific information about our columns, click here. For News Correspondents looking for guidelines, please see the news editor (news@TheBanner.org).

  • Always speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
  • In general, use a warm, conversational tone. Feel free to use contractions and other informal grammatical devices. Write to an 8th-grade reading level, and use short sentences (an average of 20 words). Craft a strong opening paragraph that will grab readers' attention.
  • Make it clear why The Banner—and not a secular magazine—would publish your article. Christian principles should underlie the articles, but they should not sound preachy.
  • Use stories, anecdotes, examples, and numbers to support your thesis. Stories and examples prove your point more effectively than several paragraphs of abstract argument. As much as the topic allows, make the essay personal—bring persons or groups or yourself into it. In this way, show the reader how what you are saying makes a difference.
  • Write for the popular audience, not for your colleagues, ministers, or other professionals. Avoid jargon. Don’t forget that your audience includes people who are seeking and who are new to Christian faith, as well as longtime Christians. Remember that you are writing to both Canadian and U.S. residents. When you use examples and statistics, mention both countries.
  • Criticize constructively where it is helpful, and include remedies when possible.
  • A Banner article should take a point of view; it should advance an arguable thesis. It should challenge readers to reassess their own thinking.
  • We prefer that you use the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. If you quote from another version, please indicate which one.

Other Things to Remember

Length: Most Banner feature articles range in length from 600 to 1,200 words. If you're writing a solicited article, you've already agreed on a word length with the editor who called you.

Focus: State the main idea clearly so that readers recognize the significance of your article. It’s best to include a “nut graph” early on—an informal thesis statement that lets readers know what they can expect from the article.

Subheads:Use subheadings at appropriate points to indicate shifts in thought and to signal major sections.

References: Do not footnote; instead, make references parenthetically in the body of the article. If you use names, please include first and last names, and titles whenever possible. If you are writing a journalistic article in which you quote people, use both their first and last names, give their ages, and identify their church membership and city of residence. If you quote from a book, please include name of publisher and year of publication along with author name and book title.

Author ID: Please include your name, address, occupation, expertise, and church affiliation. Provide any additional information you think may help us identify you to our readers. We also ask that you send us a "headshot" photo of yourself (or a snapshot that we can digitally crop).

Please note that blogs/websites/books may be included in the author ID at the sole discretion of the editorial team, taking into consideration length, relevance, and appropriateness.

Pictures: If you've agreed to include photos with the article, make sure that all people in the pictures are clearly identified. Color prints are fine, and we'll send them back if you ask us to.

Submission: Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you wish your manuscript returned. We prefer that you submit your article via email. Our email address is editorial@thebanner.org. We pay for articles on acceptance.

The Banner reserves the right

  • To make editorial changes. The Banner will edit your article for spelling, punctuation, conformity to Banner style, length, cohesiveness and logic, factual accuracy, and grace of expression. At the same time, we seek to preserve the author's voice and integrity of the original manuscript as much as possible.
  • To contact you and request a rewrite if radical changes are needed.
  • To reject any manuscript, after our editorial committee has considered it carefully.

Need more information?

Contact Sarah Delia Heth, Associate Editor, The Banner Magazine of the Christian Reformed Church; 616.224.0824; thebanner.org. Please send electronic manuscript submissions to editorial@thebanner.org.