First Monday

Guidelines for Authors

Purpose of Guidelines Audience Profile Editorial Policy & Process Copyright & Privacy
Writing Tips Style Guidelines Citation Format Reference Format
Abstract Format Submission Format Final Checklist Online Resources

Purpose of Guidelines

To streamline the editorial process and ensure that all papers meet the needs of a diverse international audience, the editors of First Monday have developed Guidelines for Authors to assist you with the preparation of your submissions.

Although nearly all contributors are skilled writers, your attention to the Guidelines for Authors will help First Monday’s volunteer staff members spend less time editing your work and help you ensure that your message is communicated clearly to readers.

The Guidelines for Authors provide you with quick tips that emphasize the following:

First Monday’s Guidelines for Authors are not absolute and certainly subject to variances. However, keeping them in mind helps the editors, and more importantly, helps your readers.

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Audience Profile

First Monday attracts a diverse international readership from over 200 countries.

When preparing documents for submission, consider the following:

The demographics of First Monday’s audience suggest that more readers will better understand your message through simple explanations and less complex sentences. Even an expert in your own industry or field of study would prefer to glean your meaning without sorting through overly complex writing.

Refer to the Writing Tips section for further information on creating concise text for a diverse international audience.

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Editorial Policy & Process

First Monday publishes articles on all aspects of the Internet, including comments on trends and standards, technical issues, political and social implications of the Internet, and educational uses. Its focus is simply on interesting and novel ideas related to the history, current use, and future of the Internet.

The flow of a typical article, from author to publication (see diagram below, artwork by Melanie Gray):


Production of First Monday
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Copyright & Privacy


Authors submitting a paper to First Monday automatically agree to confer a limited license to First Monday if and when the manuscript is accepted for publication. This license allows First Monday to publish a manuscript in a given issue.

Authors have a choice of:

  1. Dedicating the article to the public domain. This allows anyone to make any use of the article at any time, including commercial use. A good way to do this is to use the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication Web form; see
  2. Retaining some rights while allowing some use. For example, authors may decide to disallow commercial use without permission. Authors may also decide whether to allow users to make modifications (e.g. translations, adaptations) without permission. A good way to make these choices is to use a Creative Commons license.

    • Go to
    • Choose and select license. Choose "generic" if you are in the U.S. and "text" for First Monday articles.
    • What to do next — you can then e–mail the license html code to yourself. Do this, and then forward that e–mail to First Monday’s editors. Put your name in the subject line of the e–mail with your name and article title in the e–mail.

    Background information about Creative Commons licenses can be found at

  3. Retaining full rights, including translation and reproduction rights. Authors may use the statement:

    © Author 2005 All Rights Reserved.

    Authors may choose to use their own wording to reserve copyright. If you choose to retain full copyright, please add your copyright statement to the end of the article.

Authors submitting a paper to First Monday do so in the understanding that Internet publishing is both an opportunity and challenge. In this environment, authors and publishers do not always have the means to protect against unauthorized copying or editing of copyright–protected works.

Copyright © First Monday 1996–2005, First Monday is a copyrighted compilation, and all rights are reserved worldwide. Permissions to reprint or use full issues of First Monday should be directed to Edward Valauskas, Chief Editor, Permissions to reprint or use individual articles should be directed to the author(s) of the article, unless permission is granted via a Creative Commons or other license.


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Writing Tips

Consider the following tips for creating concise text:

Be Specific Be specific about all references to time, quantity, etc.
  Instead of using currently or recently, specify last spring. Often when now and currently are implied, these words can be deleted without loss of meaning.
  Instead of saying several units were added, give a number or a rough estimate, such as almost 100.
Use Shorter Words Choose short, familiar words whenever possible.
  When more than 15 percent of your words (except verbs and proper nouns) are three or more syllables, readers work too hard to understand your message. To reduce larger words, consider these tips:
  • Use about instead of approximately; use rather than utilize.
  • Convert nouns ending in –ion into verbs. Use "We considered . . . " instead of "We took into consideration . . . . "
  • Replace endeavor with try, aggregate with total, and optimum with best.
Delete Extra Words Making your point without extraneous words helps readers clearly understand your message.
  • Evaluate every that in your text. Often that can be deleted without loss of meaning.
  • Avoid starting sentences with "In order to . . . . " By deleting the words "in order," you lose no meaning.
  • Rarely is the word very needed. Consider deleting it or choosing another word. Very good can be excellent, and very important can be key.
Use Shorter Sentences Keep at least 75 percent of your sentences an average length of 10–20 words. If a sentence is longer than three typed lines, consider shortening it.
  Think of your sentence lengths as music: quick, quick, slow becomes short, short, longer. Pleasing variations help your readers pay attention.
Use Shorter Paragraphs Keep at least 75 percent of your paragraphs one to three sentences long. If a paragraph is more than five typed lines, consider shortening it.
Avoid Cliches & Jargon Choose original ways of writing your message, avoiding well–known phrases such as, When push comes to shove and By the same token. These cliches and well–worn phrases will bore your readers.
  Avoid the use of jargon whenever possible. This type of language or terminology will serve only to confuse readers who may be unfamiliar with your field of study.
Watch Use of It Avoid starting a sentence or clause with It unless the pronoun has a clear antecedent.
Watch Use of There Avoid starting sentences with There to prevent the use of "empty" introductory language.
Use Strong Verbs Use "strong" verbs whenever possible. Forms of the verb to be (e.g. am, is, are, was, were) do not maintain readers’ interest.
  Instead of saying, "The meeting was productive," consider, "The meeting generated good ideas for . . . . "
Favor the Active Voice Favor the active voice over the passive voice to avoid vagueness unless the action is more important than the doer of the action.
  Use of the imperative is a good technique for attracting readers and minimizing the use of passive voice constructions.
Ask So what? After you've written your text, evaluate every sentence by asking yourself, Why is this particular piece of information important to my readers?
  If you cannot answer the question adequately about a sentence, consider deleting it.
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Style Guidelines

For general Internet writing style and usage, authors are encouraged to consult Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age, edited by Constance Hale (San Francisco: HardWired, 1996).

For First Monday’s editorial purposes, please adhere to these style guidelines when referencing the following:

Acronyms Explain each and every first occurrence.
  For example, state World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), allowing the use of WIPO later in the manuscript.

Dates should appear in date–month–year format, as in "The first issue of First Monday appeared on Monday, 6 May 1996."

Electronic Mail Refer to electronic mail as e–mail or E–mail but not email or Email.
Internet The Internet should be called the Internet, not the internet, the net, the Net, or the ’Net.
Numbers The numbers zero through nine should be spelled out except when referring to data or measurements, such as "The figure measures 3 pixels by 2 pixels ...."
  All whole numbers above nine should appear as Arabic numerals, such as 10, 11, 12,....
  Ordinal numbers should be spelled out, as in twentieth.
  A number at the start of a sentence should be spelled out, as in " Fourteen search engines were examined .... "
Percentages Write percent, not %.
Person Favor the use of the second–person pronoun, you, over the indefinite third–person singular pronoun, one.
  Do not assume that the pronoun for a third–person singular noun is him or he. To avoid awkward constructions like he/she, revise sentences.
Tables & Figures Capitalize all references to your own tables and figures, such as "see Figure 1" or "see Table 2 below".
  Always spell out the words Figure or Table in reference to illustrations in the course of the paper.
  Use lower case for references to figures or tables in cited literature, such as (Kokomo, 1999, figure 8) or (Dolton, 1968, table 5).
Verb Tense Choose a verb tense and maintain its use throughout the document. Carefully consider use of the future tense, as often it is unnecessary.
  In discussions of the literature, use the past tense, as in "Valauskas (1990) remarked that ... ."
World Wide Web Use the Web or the World Wide Web but not the web.
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Citation Format

Citations in the course of the manuscript should appear in the following ways:

General Format The last name of the author of cited work should appear in the paper, followed by the year of publication of the book, paper, report, or document, as in (Jones, 1990).
  If there are several references to authors with the same surname, initials should be used to differentiate between the authors, as in (C. Jones, 1990; D. Jones, 1985).
Two Authors For references containing two authors, list the authors in order of their appearance in the original publication, followed by date of publication, as in (Smith and Jones, 1986).
Three or More Authors If a reference contains three or more authors, the citation should appear as (Rogers et al., 1980).
Publications in Press Cite publications in press (i.e. those documents accepted for publication but not yet published) as (Rivers, in press).
Direct Quotations Cite direct quotations as (Merrell, 1994, p. 98).
Indirect Quotations A citation can refer to text written by one author embedded in the text of a book or paper written by another author, such as (Ransmayr in Rothenberg, 1995).
Multiple Quotations Multiple citations can appear in whatever order the author deems relevant, such as (Shane and Cushing, 1991; Chalmers, 1990; Kendall and Wells, 1992).

All citations in the course of the paper should be completely described in the Reference Format section. Papers listed in the References section that are not cited in the course of the paper will be removed. Citations to papers not found in References will be removed from the contents of the paper.

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Reference Format

References should take the following formats:

Papers in Journals

Papers in Press

Papers in Edited Volumes

Papers in Conference Proceedings

Papers in Journals on the World Wide Web

World Wide Web Sites

Book by One Author

Books by More Than One Author

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Abstract Format

All papers submitted to First Monday for consideration must include an abstract, or a brief summary of a paper’s fundamental findings and conclusions. A well–written abstract will pique the interest of readers by succintly presenting that facts and ideas that build a paper.

Consider the following guidelines for creating effective, elegant abstracts that express main ideas and engage readers:

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Submission Format

Submit one complete copy of your manuscript, including tables and figures, for review purposes to the Editorial Office and the Chief Editor.

Each manuscript should contain the following elements:

Title and Author(s)

Illustrations, Figures & Tables


Word Processed Submissions

PDF Submissions

HTML Submissions

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Final Checklist

Use the following checklist to ensure that your text is ready for submission to First Monday:

My introductory text quickly engages readers’ interest because it does one of the following:
  • Tells a short tale that leads to the main point;
  • Immediately surprises readers with new information; or
  • Presents about three short ideas or examples, then summarizes their significance in one sentence.
I have made my text as concise as possible while maintaining its logic and completeness. Each word I have included is essential. (Refer to Writing Tips for further information.)
I have formatted the text according to First Monday’s stated requirements. (Refer to Submission Format for further information.)
I have avoided dull language by using lively verbs where appropriate and specific examples with clear references to time, size, etc. (Refer to Writing Tips for further information.)
My entire document effectively meets the needs of First Monday’s diverse international audience. (Refer to Audience Profile for further information.)
My entire document is consistent with First Monday’s stated style guidelines. (Refer to Style Guidelines for further information.)
All of my references, bibliographic notes, endnotes, and/or footnotes are consistent throughout the document and meet First Monday’s stated requirements. (Refer to Citation Format and Reference Format for further information.)
I have included a succint abstract that clearly states my paper’s fundamental findings and conclusions. The abstract meets First Monday’0s stated requirements. (Refer to Abstract Format for further information.)
My text has been proofread carefully more than once to eliminate all inaccuracies in fact, word choice, spelling, and grammar. (Refer to Writing Tips for further information.)
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Online Resources

To assist you with the self–editing process, First Monday has compiled the following list of online resources on grammar and style. You may wish to consult these resources prior to submitting your manuscript for consideration.


The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Common Errors in English

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The People Index

Copyright © 1996–2005, First Monday