Writers' Guidelines

What writers should know before submitting articles to The Banner.

The Banner is the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC). New articles are published online weekly. Its monthly print version gets sent free to almost 80,000 households of CRC members in 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 be a public forum 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. Most hold to the core beliefs of Reformed theology.

Writing Guidelines

Please note that the following guidelines apply to feature articles and columns only. For specific information about the types of columns, click here. For News Correspondents looking for news guidelines, please contact the news editor (news@TheBanner.org).

Tone

Always speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

  • We seek to have a tone and voice that is gracious, humble and fair, not strident or harsh. Please use this content assessment form from Rise Up Writers as a tool to guide your writing. (Used with permission)
  • In general, use a warm, conversational tone. Feel free to use contractions and other informal grammatical devices.
  • Criticize constructively where it is helpful, and include remedies when possible.
  • Avoid denigrating, mocking or insulting any persons or groups, even those you disagree with.
  • Remember you are writing to both Canadian and U.S. residents. When you use examples and statistics, mention both countries.

Style

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 the Christian faith, as well as longtime Christians.
  • Write to an eighth-grade reading level, and use short sentences (an average of 20 words).
  • 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.
  • If appropriate, use subheadings at appropriate points to indicate shifts in thought and to signal major sections.
  • Please use people-first language, e.g. “people with disabilities” rather than “the disabled.”

Focus

A Banner article should take a point of view; it should advance an arguable thesis. It should challenge readers to reassess their own thinking.

  • State the main idea clearly so 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. 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.

References

We prefer that you use the New International Version (NIV) 2011 edition of the Bible. If you quote from another version, please indicate which one.

  • Do not footnote; instead, make references parenthetically in the body of the article. If you quote from a book/article, please include author name and book/article title. If you quote a person directly, please make sure you have permission.
  • If you use people’s names, please obtain prior permission, and include first and last names, and titles whenever possible. To include names of minors, you must have prior parent/guardian permission. Normally, only first names for minors.

Length

Most Banner feature articles range in length from 600 to 1,200 words. For word lengths of specific columns, click here. If you're writing a solicited article, you've already agreed on a word length with the editor who contacted you.

Pictures

We only accept digital photos/pictures, preferably in jpg file format. If you include photos with the article, make sure every person in the pictures are clearly identified and permissions are obtained.

Author Bio

Please send the following with your submission:

  • A digital headshot jpg photo of yourself, as high a resolution as possible
  • Your mailing address
  • An author bio: Please include your name, city/state (or province), occupation or expertise, and church affiliation. No more than 35 words.
  • Optional: Up to two internet links for websites, blogs, and/or social media accounts. You may also include up to two books you have written and any additional information you think might be pertinent. This will be included in your author bio only as space allows.

Editing

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.

Submissions

We prefer that you submit your article via email. Our email address is editorial@thebanner.org. We pay for articles on acceptance.

Need more information?

Contact Sarah Delia Heth, associate editor of The Banner, at 616-224-0824 or sheth@crcna.org.