Writing for Australiana Magazine

Style Guide

Australiana is one of the few places where you can publish articles on Australian art, decorative arts and manufactures
We aim to publish material that is engaging, well-written, well-illustrated, authoritative, reliable, accurate, comprehensive and puts objects into context

Australiana is a 60-page, full colour, perfect bound magazine published quarterly in February, May, August and November, available only by subscription. If you are interested in subscribing or writing, we can send you pdfs of sample articles.

Australiana aims to publish research focusing on Australian art, decorative arts, manufactures and material culture. These objects often display recognisably Australian motifs, are made of Australian materials or otherwise resonate with Australians. Articles should be engaging, well written, well illustrated, authoritative, reliable, accurate, comprehensive and put objects into historical and social context.

The research published in Australiana creates an ever-expanding archive of knowledge. We cover all periods, all of Australia, and subjects that relate to Australia and Australians, although interpreting or rediscovering historic material is the main focus. We aim, over time, to address the gaps in our past research interests or approaches.

Australiana welcomes new contributors. Contact the editor to discuss your proposal or send a brief outline or draft, no matter how rough. You can submit articles at any time, but if you want it in a specific issue then contact the editor to check space availability and deadline.

Write in clear language. Submissions should be original, topical and well-illustrated. While articles can be any length, we need shorter articles (up to 3 000 words) to give each issue variety for our readers. If you are writing about an individual item or a small group of items in your own or other collections, put then into a broader context. Puff pieces, or those overtly promoting items for sale, are not accepted.

We will edit your article constructively. We may ask you to add material, to delete parts or change what you have written. We may suggest other images. The editor refers articles to other authorities for anonymous peer review by acknowledged experts in the field. This is a normal part of the publication process. We cannot change it once it is in print – though we do still make mistakes!.

Material taken from another source must be referenced. Direct quotes should be accurate and in quotation marks.

Typically, you need to submit three things, preferably in digital format:

  • Text, an abstract, notes, acknowledgments and a short author biography.
  • Images of good quality, hi-res and copyright-cleared for publication. Number the digital image files consecutively (1,2,3…) so we can match them with the text references and captions. A portrait of the author(s) is optional.
  • Captions numbered consecutively (1,2,3 …) to match the image file numbers.

The editor will help you improve your contribution, as we cannot change it once it is in print. We can be flexible in interpreting the ‘rules’ below, but we try to be consistent.


An abstract of approximately 150-200 words is useful for our website and helps more readers find your article through search engines such as Google.


  1. Submit text and images in digital format. Email text and captions in Microsoft Word plus images, mail on disc or memory stick or transfer online through a file sharing service such as WeTransfer.com (free, efficient and easy to use).
  2. Formatting: keep formatting simple. The editor will re-format and edit your article. Our designer will lay out your article, so do try to design it yourself. You may send a document with embedded images for use as a guide to image placement if you wish, but embedded images are rarely suitable for printing.
  3. Writing style: use clear language, active voice rather than passive, simple rather than complex words, descriptive rather than vague adjectives. Avoid jargon, meaningless expressions and circumlocutions: eg avoid ‘general public’, ‘it is generally believed’ and ‘it is interesting to note that’. Don’t use words that make us run to the dictionary, but explain technical terms. Use modern English, never archaic words and constructions (except in quotes). Above all, engage the reader.
  4. Printouts: are unnecessary. Single spacing is fine.
  5. Spaces: use single not double spaces between words or sentences. MS Word compensates for sentence breaks.
  6. Italics: italicise titles of works of art, ship’s names, book titles, periodical titles and technical terms in a foreign language. You may use italics for emphasis. Never use small caps or other idiosyncratic fonts.
  7. Quotations: use single quotation marks for direct quotes, and for quotes within them, use double quotation marks. Quotations must be accurate and referenced in the notes.
  8. Dates: use the form ‘day month year’ e.g. 4 July 1776. In notes, shorten months (Jan, Feb, etc). Spell the name of the century in full at the start of a sentence, e.g. Nineteenth century, elsewhere use a numeral, e.g. 19th century. In an adjectival context insert a hyphen, eg ‘19th-century potters’.
  9. Ellipses: show an ellipsis by three dots e.g. ‘Verge’s … splendid architraves’.
  10. Notes: use ‘endnotes’ in Word to give sources or to add peripheral but relevant information. Number endnotes consecutively 1,2,3 ... and place at the end of the text; please use automatic endnote numbering so numbers adjust when we add, move or delete notes. Superscript note numbers in the text should follow punctuation. Avoid copious or long footnotes. We check references for accuracy so copy quotes precisely giving the full reference and page number. If a previous article in Australiana has covered this subject or part of it, then please refer to it in the notes.
  11. References: use these formats:
    • Books: John Hawkins, Nineteenth-century Australian Silver, Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk 1990 vol 1 p 234.
    • Articles: Dorothy Erickson ‘Mattie Furphy – dainty but determined’, Australiana vol 38 no 1 Feb 2016 pp 9–13.
    • Newspapers: Hobart Town Courier 15 Jan 1836 p 4.
    • Manuscripts: Give the title of the manuscript, name of the institution and reference number, e. g. Philip Gidley King, ‘Letter Book 1797–1806’, Mitchell Library A2015.
    • Subsequent references: use appropriate Latin abbreviations op cit, ibid, etc.
  12. Numbers: write numbers up to ten in full, and for higher numbers use Arabic numerals, e.g. ‘from seven to 16 books’, except when starting a sentence. Use a comma to separate 1,000s.
  13. Names: give first names and surnames at first mention. Omit full stops and insert a space between initials in names, thus Rev J D Lang not Rev. J. D. Lang, unless it’s a direct quote.
  14. First Nations people: When referring to a specific group of First Nations people or traditional owners, please use their name eg Kamilaroi, Noongar, Yolngu, Gadigal not the generic ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’. The aiatsis.gov.au website is helpful.
  15. Abbreviations: generally omit full stops e.g. nos, vols, Dr, St (saint or street).
  16. Measurements: SI measurement units are expressed as symbols not abbreviations. They are always singular and lower case with no full stops eg 15 km, cm, kg, never kms, cms, kgs. Imperial equivalent symbols may follow in brackets eg 4 kg (8.8 lb), also singular; lbs is nonsense – the Latin libra with an s suffix is not a plural.
  17. Spelling: Set your spellcheck to ‘English (Australian)’, not the US default.

-ise not -ize

among, while not amongst, whilst

-yse not -yze

program not programme

  1. Symbols: symbols such as £ and accented letters are under ‘Insert/Symbol’ in Word.

  2. General: if in doubt, check the Australian Government’s Style Manual, which we broadly follow.


Acknowledge those who have helped you, for example with typing, research or providing photographs. Fulsome praise or thanking your family is generally unnecessary.


Provide a concise biography that is relevant to Australiana readers, a contact email address so readers can get in touch (they do) and a portrait photograph (optional). Your biography may be edited.


  1. Good images are critical. They should complement the text and usually be referenced in the text. We print in colour; if the story relies on black and white images, try to add colour images to make it more interesting visually, especially up front!
  2. We prefer digital images taken directly of the original, shot in good light with a clean background. Images that are too small, out of focus, of poor quality or with strong contrasts are generally unsuitable. Camera photographs are generally preferable to phone snaps. Our designer can enhance images by digital manipulation or deep-etching to remove distracting backgrounds.
  3. Send us digital images by email, on disc or memory stick, or through file transfer services – WeTransfer.com is free and reliable. Jpegs are easier to send than tiffs, as they are smaller files. We print images at 300 dpi.
  4. Number images consecutively 1, 2, 3 .... This is essential so we can match up text, images and captions. Avoid number suffixes unless you are showing two sides of a coin or medal, in which case you can use suffixes a and b.
  5. Show the correct orientation of the image if ‘top’ is not clear.
  6. Contributors are responsible for obtaining photographs, for permission to reproduce them and for reproduction fees. The editor can often help to get images, or extra images. Most private collectors, dealers, auctioneers and institutions are helpful and generous in supporting scholarship and supplying images free to Australiana. Some institutions are not, even when authors are adding information about items in their collections, so check with the editor.


Captions are essential and should include these details, where applicable, in this order:

  • Number (1, 2, 3...) of the image – corresponding to the image file name (just rename them by adding 1, 2, 3 … etc before the existing file name). Number captions manually, never use automatic numbering. Do not use suffixes, unless for example it is a coin in which case use a and b for obverse and reverse.
  • Names of the maker and his/her dates in brackets if known eg John Glover (1767–1849)
  • Title (in italics), place of manufacture, date, medium (eg oil on canvas), size in cm or mm (h x w x d)
  • Collection, location and registration number, eg Collection: National Library of Australia, Canberra 1322499
  • Photo credit, eg ‘photograph Geoff Friend’. Special wording generally applies only to the monarch, eg ‘by Gracious Permission of His Majesty the King.’


We email authors successive proofs for checking, as pdf files. Preferably make corrections on the pdf file as post-it notes by using the ‘Edit PDF’ function in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (a free download). Otherwise, print a hard copy and make your suggestions on that and mail or scan it; if there are only a few, send an email with the changes. You will get a new version after each revision. We are used to making numerous changes and improvements, but the editor retains the final say. You will always get the final version.


You retain the copyright to your text so you are free to publish it elsewhere. It is customary to acknowledge Australiana as the original publication.


  1. Australiana does not pay author fees. We give authors several free copies of the magazine, and authors may purchase bulk copies at a cost determined by the Board.
  2. Include your name, email, phone number and contact address.
  3. After publication, photographs and discs will be returned only if requested.

Revised 10 October 2021

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The Australiana Society acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples – the First Australians – as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.