Linn's Writer's Guidelines


The goal of Linn's Stamp News is to create a weekly publication that is indispensable to stamp collectors. Everything we do, from the broadest editorial policy to the most trivial stylistic idiosyncrasy, is thought out in the light of this one overriding goal.

We try to achieve indispensability in various ways:

Every collector, from the beginner to the most sophisticated, wants to know the news. Our aim is to provide all the news, as conveniently and as accessibly as we can. In this regard, we feel we are the New York Times of philately.

In stamp collecting, the news is not just club and show announcements, new issues and auction realizations.

New discoveries are constantly being made, sometimes involving material that is decades or even centuries old. We cover this news too, relying on the worldwide network of columnists and correspondents who contribute to our pages.

Of course, we rely on these contributors for much more than hard news. Many of the feature items in Linn's, which make up the bulk of our editorial content, originate with free-lance contributors in the collector community.

Here Linn's performs an important educational function, by bringing to the attention of approximately 65,000 subscribers (and hundreds of thousands of readers) a diverse selection of facts, thoughts and observations about stamps, postal markings, covers and stamp-related subjects.

Writing in Linn's, the free-lance contributor has the opportunity to share his specialized knowledge with the largest stamp collector audience of any periodical in the world.

It should go without saying, then, that Linn's features are aimed at a broad group of relatively novice collectors, whose average level of sophistication, on any given subject, is less than that of the specialist author.

Linn's writers should keep this general interest level of the audience uppermost in mind. Advanced or more sophisticated collectors, as many of our columnists tend to be, must also avoid writing down to the reader.

The goal in writing for the Linn's audience is to provide information that makes stamp collecting more interesting to more people. Ideally, every feature we run promotes the hobby.

A Linn's article is not the appropriate place to showcase everything the author knows, nor is it a lofty podium from which to speak over people's heads.

The Linn's writer must strive to reach out and embrace the reader, to invite him in, even to hold his hand along the path. This attitude of friendliness and openness in one's prose is difficult to articulate, but it's extremely important. It is very much a part of our desire to make Linn's accessible to all collectors, and to help them grow as philatelists.

Without condescending, the Linn's writer should assume that the reader knows little or nothing about the specific subject at hand. Complicated terms or unfamiliar words should be defined, even if they might be familiar to the more advanced philatelist.

The Wall Street Journal is a good model here: Every time its uses the phrase "short sale," it defines what a short sale is. Linn's strives to be similarly introductory in its approach to the jargon of philately.

The ideal Linn's feature would contain enough new (or newly presented) information to instruct even the specialist in the field, written in a way to capture the attention (and hold the interest) of the beginning collector.

While the scope of our editorial interest ranges as widely as philately itself, many of our features focus on U.S. and U.S.-related material. No matter what his collecting specialty, the Linn's reader still maintains an interest in the stamps and postal history of his own country. Week after week, Linn's offers the most complete coverage of the U.S. philatelic scene available anywhere.

This is not to say that we ignore the philately of the rest of the world –– quite the contrary. We have regular columns in many non-U.S. areas; we record and notice the new issues of the entire world; and our feature writers routinely range the globe, writing on subjects from classic to contemporary.

Linn's is also big enough to accommodate a wide range of writing styles. Many of our columnists have individual voices, and we don't discourage this. We will always try to preserve a writer's style, assuming that he is a writer and has a style.


We purchase first worldwide periodical rights plus a non-exclusive right to anthologize or otherwise reuse on a proportionate royalty basis.

In other words, we want to be the first periodical to publish the work. The author is subsequently free to resell the work elsewhere, 60 days after we've published it; but here we'd like to be credited. We reserve the right to reuse all works published in Linn's (in our almanac or in an anthology, for instance), and we will pay an appropriate royalty for such reuses.

The specific legal details of our purchase are spelled out in our "Standard terms governing acceptance of original material" section of this guideline.

Articles submitted should be exclusive to Linn's. We are not interested in material that is simultaneously submitted to other publications (except press releases, of course, which are not part of this discussion). Thus, we want to see original electronic files or typescripts, and we tend to look unfavorably on photocopies or faxes.

We reserve the right to edit, cut or reject anything submitted. Unsolicited materials will be returned only if accompanied by an addressed envelope, suitably franked.

Articles accepted may not appear immediately. Please be patient. The rejection process is fairly quick (three weeks at most), but accepted pieces sometimes sit for months before publication.

Payment for features and columns is made upon publication. Checks in U.S. dollars are mailed monthly, shortly after the 5th of the month. Thus, in the ordinary course of events, writers should have received, by the middle of the month, our check for whatever of their works was published in the issues of Linn's cover-dated the previous month.

Rates vary, generally between $40 and $75 per feature. We do strive to pay every contributor who produces original work for us. This is more by way of saying "thank you" than providing a livelihood, since the economics of newspaper publishing don't sustain magazine rates.

Payment varies according to quality, craft, degree of difficulty, previous work done for Linn's, number and quality of visuals, and length.

We do NOT pay by the word. Longer is not necessarily better. In fact, the longer a feature, the less likely we'll have room for it.

We usually have a large inventory of half- to full-page features (over 750 words) and a screaming need for shorter items (200-500 words).


Include illustrations wherever possible: stamps, covers, postmarks or whatever other visual material supports your text.

Many would-be contributors seem to break down here. For Linn's, a picture is indeed worth, if not 1,000 words, at least 250. More frequently than we would prefer, we find ourselves returning otherwise publishable work because it lacks the necessary visual support.

As a general rule, the best way to write an article on almost any philatelic subject is to have the photos in front of you before you begin. That way you are sure to properly illustrate your subject, and your text is fairly certain to explain what's in its pictures.

Conversely, an easy way to get into trouble is to write an article with no visual support, in the expectation of finding a photo after the article is done. Nine times out of ten, the result is a text that lacks illustrations or doesn't connect to them.

On the other hand, bear in mind that in final page makeup there must be a balance between illustrations and text. Too many illustrations can overpower a skimpy text and make it difficult (sometimes impossible) for us to lay out the words.

We prefer crisp, sharp-focus, high-contrast glossy black and white photos. A few items that have no tonal gradations, postmarks or surcharges for instance, can be reproduced adequately from photocopies. Stamps and covers cannot.

If you can't provide decent photos, send us the material and we'll make the photos here. (Clear this with us first if the value is substantial.)

Please don't expect us to seek out your visuals for you; we don't have the time or the resources.

Our typical purchase includes the acquisition of the illustrations. If you want your photos returned, we should discuss this beforehand. Include your name and full address on the reverse of each photo.

Along with illustrations, we expect you to provide captions. Please provide captions on a separate sheet of paper, not embedded within your manuscript. The ideal caption should explain what the picture shows and make the reader want to read the accompanying text. At the very least, a caption should explain what's in the picture. Identify all people and everything else that would provoke reader curiosity. "Figure 1" with no explanation is not an acceptable caption.

Don't paste visuals or captions onto your manuscript. Keep them separate.

Copy Preparation

Copy should be prepared in a standard electronic format such as Microsoft Word or similar software, and be submitted on a disk with a paper copy. If typewritten, it should be double spaced with ample margins, on one side only of sheets of white 8- by 11-inch bond paper. Put your name and the page number in the upper-right corner of each page.

Avoid typewritten strikeovers, especially with figures. Better to cross it out and say it again. Clarity is more important than neatness.

Footnotes and bibliographies are not appropriate to our newspaper style. If attribution or citation is essential, then it's important enough to be worked into the text.

Refer to illustrations as Figure 1, Figure 2, etc. Avoid eye directions such as above and below, which might be contradicted by page makeup.

For similar reasons, charts in the text should be avoided. They typically run wider than one column width, and cause difficult (sometimes impossible) makeup problems. If you must include a chart, prepare and discuss it separately, as if it were a photo.

Submit articles to Managing Editor, Box 29, Sidney, OH 45365.

Style: General

Linn's is a weekly magazine in newspaper format. Our editorial style is designed to communicate information as quickly and as clearly as possible. Stylistic quirks that hinder rapid communication are discouraged. Our basic reference in matters of editorial style is The Associated Press Stylebook, available from AP at 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020.

Even though your subject might be specialized, write it understandably. Always explain terms. Remember that Linn's is read by tens of thousands of readers who don't know your subject as well as you do. Reach out and help them.

Avoid lengthy paragraphs. One typewritten line makes two lines of type in Linn's. Our newspaper style calls for very short paragraphing. This also aids readership.

Don't use lengthy sentences. Two or three short sentences are easier to read than one long one. Never use parentheses or dashes when commas or separate sentences will serve the same end. Never use a comma when a period will do. That saves ink.

Avoid cliches. Don't try to be cute. Reread your sentences to see if you can express the same thoughts in fewer words.

Check and double check all facts, especially names, addresses, catalog numbers and other critical bits of information. We rely on you for the accuracy of your prose.

Don't be afraid of the first person. We'll be publishing your work under your name. "We" or "this writer" are pedantic and often confusing. Say "I" if it's appropriate.

Use a dictionary or a spelling guide. Frequent misspellings suggest a lack of attention to detail that is inappropriate to the craft of journalism. The supplementary pages of Webster are useful regarding punctuation and grammar.

Avoid jarring repetition of the same words or phrase. There are many ways to say the same thing.

Style: Linn's

Never refer to a stamp by Scott number only. Describe it first and then add the Scott number if needed. As an example: "The U.S. 10¢ 1869 stamp (Scott 116) . . ." In a series, it's Scott 51-58; 233-37.

Spell out numerals one through nine, then use figures for 10 and higher. Don't use decimals after an even number of dollars (i.e., we say $20, not $20.00). For large numbers, insert the comma beginning with 1,000. Generally, figures are used in ages; always in percentages.

No comma after a month without a day (March 1983); adding the day requires the comma (March 13, 1983). The reverse "13 March 1983" takes no comma, but is difficult to read and should be avoided.

We abbreviate months when used with days (Aug. 12, 1869) but not without days (August 1869). We never abbreviate the five short months: March, April, May, June, July.

We never use italics or quotation marks for emphasis. If you want to emphasize a word or a point, write emphatically. Don't use quotation marks to indicate anything other than a quotation. Periods and commas go inside the quotation marks; semicolons go outside.

Abbreviations: We use the old style state abbreviations. We don't abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, Utah. Two-word states are abbreviated with no space: W.Va. We only use the two-letter postal abbreviation when an address is given.

Mr. is used only with Mrs. or when the man is dead. Mrs. and Miss are generally unnecessary. We never use Ms.

We don't use periods with most well-known organizations: UPU, USPS, UNPA, APS, APO, GPO, etc. However, we do use periods with country initials: U.S., U.N.

Postal administrations and other organizations take the singular: APS will stage its spring meeting, UNPA will announce its 1984 stamps.

Note the punctuation and separation of the following: American Stamp Dealers Association, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, price list. The following are all one word: mailcoach, handcancel, handstamp, datestamp, semipostal, multicolor, steamship.

Our general style is lowercase. When in doubt over whether a word should be capitalized, leave it down.

Standard Terms

Governing Acceptance of Original Material

Linn's Stamp News, a division of Amos Press Inc. (the publisher), accepts original copy and/or artwork subject to the following terms and conditions:

1. First Worldwide Periodical Rights. The contributor grants to publisher the exclusive right to be the first to publish the article and supporting artwork in whole or edited fashion (sometimes referred to collectively as the "work") in Linn's Stamp News and to use said work in advertising and/or promotion.

2. Subsequent Use. The contributor retains the right to sell the work elsewhere provided such subsequent sale occurs no sooner than sixty (60) days after publication by Linn's Stamp News. The contributor agrees that any subsequent reprint will appropriately reference Linn's Stamp News copyright. The contributor grants to publisher a right to reuse said work in any publication of the publisher, subject to publisher's payment of an appropriate fee to the contributor.

3. Copyright. The contributor grants to the publisher the right to obtain copyright on the work in the publisher's name in the United States and any other country, subject to the contributor's retained non-exclusive right to reuse as set forth above.

4. Indemnity. The contributor warrants and guarantees that he is the sole proprietor of the work; that said work violates no existing copyright, in whole or part; that it contains no libelous or otherwise injurious matter; that the work has not heretofore been published; that he is the sole and exclusive owner of the rights granted herein to the publisher; and that he has not heretofore assigned, pledged, or otherwise encumbered said work. At his own expense, the contributor will protect and defend said work from any adverse claim of copyright infringement, and shall indemnify, defend and hold the publisher harmless from asserted claims of whatever nature, damages, costs and expenses that the publisher may incur as a result of the publication of said work and/or subsequent reuse.

5. Payment. The contributor accepts such amount as is tendered by separate check from the publisher as payment in full for the rights in the work granted herein to the publisher; provided, however, that it is agreed that additional monies may be due only as a result of subsequent reuse as set forth in paragraph 2 hereof.

6. Rights Reserved. All rights in the work not specifically granted to the publisher are expressly reserved to the contributor.

7. Applicable Law. The agreement between the contributor and publisher shall be governed by the law of Ohio and shall be deemed to have been entered into at Sidney, Ohio, as of the date of the issuance of publisher's check in payment of the amount due to the contributor pursuant to paragraph 5.

8. Arbitration. Any claim, dispute or controversy arising out of or in connection with the agreement between the contributor and publisher or any breach thereof, shall be arbitrated by the parties before the American Arbitration Association under the rules then applicable of that association. The arbitration shall be held in the city of Sidney, Ohio.

9. Successors and Assigns. The agreement of the contributor and publisher shall be binding upon, and inure to the benefit of each of their respective heirs, successors, administrators, and assigns.

10. Entire Agreement. It is understood by the contributor and publisher that these Standard Terms And Conditions and publisher's check tendered in payment in accordance with paragraph 5 set forth the parties' entire agreement regarding this work and may not be varied except by an additional writing signed by the contributor and the publisher.