Those aspiring to write for The Army Leader should read this in full before submitting an article.
The Army Leader is lucky to have a dedicated following of military and civilian leaders, all of whom are committed to developing themselves and their organisations. They come to The Army Leader because of the quality of the writing on the site.
This quality only comes about because we look for authoritative and informative submissions written by experienced leaders. These submissions are then honed by our diligent and supportive editors. We pride ourselves on the standard of editorial advice we provide our authors and most articles go through three rewrites before they are accepted. Please do not be put off by this; it ensures that the author is proud to put their name next to their work and we are proud to publish it.
However, we value the time our unpaid editors put into improving your article. You can save their time and yours by ensuring your submission fulfils the guidelines below.
Why The Army Leader Exists
The Army Leader is a dedicated to improving the understanding and practise of leadership by individuals and organisations. Because an interest in leadership begins during a soldier’s first leadership appointment The Army Leader is unashamedly not focused solely on leadership from an officer’s perspective. Its readers come from across the spectrum of ranks and branches, as well as from the private and third sector.
Whilst we will consider article submissions from all ranks and professions, we particularly encourage serving soldiers and officers to submit posts. Military writing benefits both the reader and the author. It also benefits the Army as a whole. If you are writing for the first time please email. We will actively support you through the process if you require.
The Army Leader has four guiding principles. We expect our articles to reflect those principles.
- A good leader is positive, values and inspires others, humbly shares their failures and successes and is dedicated to building the next generation of leaders.
- Positive and constructive discussion, critical thinking and open debate about leadership and leadership development are critical elements of a healthy command culture.
- A good leader lives by and promotes the values and standards of their organisation.
- Where authors are serving members of the UK Armed Forces, they should comply with the UK MOD’s media guidelines.
What We Look For
We publish articles related to leadership, personal development and team development. Articles should seek to impart wisdom, inform, educate and share best practice in a way that improves and enhances leadership or command. Articles may be theoretical or practical in nature. The best articles combine both. We also publish reviews of books on leadership (including historical leadership), psychology and organisational theory. You can find additional advice on book reviews and how to submit them here.
We have found that the ideal article length is 1500-2500 words. We prefer longer, rather than shorter, articles. If you have an academic thesis or essay you wish to publish, it is likely to require editing to make it more accessible.
We consider operational security and personal security when accepting articles. Equally, while examples of poor leadership are acceptable subjects for articles they must not be attributable to individuals, no matter how personally gratifying the author may find it to do so.
We prefer that authors, including serving military, post under their own name and not anonymously. It is our strong belief that posting openly under your own name promotes honest and quality opinions. It shows that you personally stand by your opinions and gives your views credibility. However, we accept that personal security considerations may require you to post anonymously.
Once published, the original author retains the copyrighted ownership of the published material under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
If you are interested in submitting a post for consideration please email the editor at email@example.com with a short summary of your article before you begin writing. The email subject should read “Post Submission – [Author Name]”. Please expect to wait for a few days before receiving a response.
Our format and style rules have been written to assist the editing team with the large volume of material submitted to our site. Please adhere to these simple rules in order to ensure that your article has the best chance of success.
All submission should be emailed as Word documents in Arial 11 point. 1.5-line space the text, justify the body and use standard margins. Articles may include pictures and bullet points but all images must be provided as high-quality JPEGs and not embedded in the text. References should be hyperlinked where possible or saved as endnotes (rather than footnotes) for print references. The reference list should be on a separate page at the end of the document.
As this is an online publication, underlining should be avoided; instead use bold or italics to emphasize words and italics to indicate book titles and foreign words (ad hoc, or vis-à-vis).
Avoid using contractions (incorrect: ‘he can’t’. Correct: ‘he cannot’).
The balance between acronyms or full expansions is difficult but try and use the full terms where possible, unless it is a very widely known phrase both in and out of the military. For example: HQ, HDMI and VTC are fine but instead of ‘IG2’ write ‘initial Major’s post’. If you must use an acronym spell it out for its first use, then placed the acronym in brackets after the word. For example: The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR).
Numbers from one to nine are written in full, 10 upwards are written as numerals. Acronyms (such as SO2, G3, OF5) are exceptions. Names of military operations are in all-caps. For example: Operation DESERT STORM.
There should be no commas before the words ‘but’ or ‘and’ (incorrect: he served in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. Correct: he served in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait). It is acceptable to start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’ if it adds emphasis.
In quotations, the full stop or comma always goes inside the quotation marks and quotations will be marked with double quotation marks (incorrect: ‘insert quote’. Correct: “insert quote.”). All quoted material should have a hyperlink or citation [ENDNOTE]. Quotations are indented once they exceed four lines of regular text. Long quotations are a paragraph in themselves but do not use quotation marks to start and end them. Single quotation marks should be used to indicate words or phrases that are descriptive but are new and unusual (such as ‘realpolitik’), or when invoking a colloquial, ironic, humorous, or metaphoric intent (this was hardly an example of ‘authentic’ leadership).
For plural nouns ending in ‘s’, add only an apostrophe. For example: soldiers’ rights. For singular common nouns ending in ‘s’, add an ‘ ‘s ’. For example: the hostess’s invitation, the witness’s answer. For singular proper names ending in ‘s’, use only an apostrophe. For example: the United States’ mission. For singular proper names ending in ‘s’ sounds such as ‘x’, ‘ce’, and ‘z’, use ‘ ‘s ’. For example: Marx’s theories. Do not use ‘ ‘s ’ for plurals of numbers or multiple letter combinations (incorrect: he failed his NSP’s. Correct: His leadership was from the 1980s).
Hyphenate when the adjective affects certain terms (e.g., post-Cold War). If you want to denote an abrupt change in a sentence — use a dash.
During the first mention of an individual within the text the full name should be included, plus any titles. For example, Secretary of State for Defence Penny Mordaunt; thereafter, Penny Mordaunt or Secretary of State.
Use a currency symbol when there is a number attached, even if the number is partially spelled out. (incorrect: we spent two billion pounds on equipment. Correct: We spent £2 billion on equipment).
Be specific, particularly with regards to timing and authorship (incorrect: A few months ago an author wrote…. Correct: In his 1998 book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership John Maxwell wrote…).
Make sure to manually double-check spelling in all submissions. Use British spellings as opposed to American spellings (defence not defense) unless it is a name (such as American Defense School). If in doubt, assume that The Army Leader uses British English rules.
Advice on Writing
Writing can be daunting for first-time writers. The advice below is based on that given by Ryan Evans, the founder of War on the Rocks,at a British Army writing event in 2017.
Offer resource or insight. Readers come here for two things – resources to use or insights into leadership. Your article needs to provide at least one of these. Even better if it provides both. So, ask the questions: What insight am I providing? What resources am I sharing?
- Draw on your special knowledge. What do you know that very few others know? Perhaps you learnt something on your last posting, a recent op tour or during your own research? Sometimes you read a book that links to something you know, saw or learnt during your career. These things make what you write unique and interest readers.
- But add more than your own knowledge. As well as your unique knowledge, add information from other sources. Research. Understand who you agree with and who you disagree with. Unless you combine your unique, special knowledge and information from other sources you are just writing opinion. And opinions are like… well, you know. Everyone’s got one.
- Bring yourself into the story. If you are writing about your special knowledge, write as a person and bring yourself into the story. It makes your opinion credible. If your story is especially relevant to the insight or resource, even better – get it in up front. People want to read about other people, so make it human and about you.
- First, decide on your structure. The structure comes first! Get a blank sheet of paper and write down, in big headings, the main themes you want to write about. Then, compare them. See if two of the themes can be merged. Keep going until you cannot merge any of the themes. At this point you’ve got your structural blocks for the article. Then think about the order of those blocks. Should some change order to make the article flow in an obvious way? Once you have the headings in an order, you have your structure. Begin writing.
- Don’t give a lazy reader the chance to stop reading: Hook, Engage, Act. The hook is the first paragraph or section of the article. It is really important. The hook may be current news (if you can write quickly), it may be a provocative question. It could also be a controversial statement. Best of all, it could be an interesting anecdote or story from your own experience: the story that explains the insight or the resource. This hooks the reader into the article. Make them want to see what happens next.
- Once hooked, engage. As soon as you finish the hook, explain or summarise your article in two or three lines. This is important. The readers are hooked, by why stay for the rest? Engage them by making sure they know where they are going.
- Once engaged, walk them through your argument. Now take the reader through the argument or thesis. Use you structure and try and create a flow to the argument. Since you have a clear structure, use headings to help the reader. They are like signposts. Without them your reader will forget why they are reading your article.
- Avoid fluff and long sentences. It is best practice to eliminate the ‘fluff’. Condense phrases like “which resulted in”, “in order to” and “in which”. Remember that commas and semicolons are not your friend. Short sentences are.
- Having said that, long sentences without sub-clauses have an important role because there is something very pleasant about reading an article that uses long but uncomplicated sentences. For that reason, do not be afraid to use them as long as you finish them off with a single punchy sentence. It gives closure.
- Make the reader want to act. At the end of the article you need to recommend action. Or at least provide a usable idea for how things could be done better. This is the difference between a story and a usable insight. The reader needs to be able to ‘take it to the bank’. If they can act more effectively as a leader because of what you write then you have been effective.
- Check for spelling and reading difficulty. Once you have written your article, check it for spelling. An effective way to ensure that spelling and word choice match your intent is to read the piece aloud. You also want your article to be readable, so check it online for readability. A readable article is not a dumbed-down article. Readability is about being accessible.
- Share your story with others. Finally, discuss your article with others before submitting. Find out if your thesis, story or study can captivate an audience. If your story or idea interests others when you tell it in a casual setting, it is more than worthy of publication. Happy writing!
Serving Military Authors
Defence media guidelines dictate that if you are a serving member of the British Armed Forces and wish to post using your military identity you will still need your chain of command’s approval to post on uncontroversial topics. Leadership is uncontroversial unless you (deliberately or accidentally) make it so. Therefore, serving military authors should have their chain of command’s approval.
All military authors will have their biography tagged with the sentence “The views and opinions expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ministry of Defence or the British Army”.