Writer's Guidelines for U.S. Catholic
U.S. Catholic is happy to consider unsolicited submissions. At the same time, nearly all of our content is commissioned by the editors, and we accept very few unsolicited manuscripts. In addition, due to the high volume of submissions, it may take at least six to eight weeks for a manuscript to receive a response. Authors may submit a complete article or a fleshed-out idea; links to published clips are helpful. To familiarize yourself with the kinds of articles we run in U.S. Catholic, please spend some time browsing our issue archive.
Please note that we plan our editorial calendar well in advance, so article ideas should be submitted at least 6-8 months before they would appear in the magazine. U.S. Catholic does not consider submissions that have simultaneously been sent to any other publication or that have appeared elsewhere in any form, either in print or online. This includes articles published on personal blogs or excerpts from books, published or unpublished.
For information on submitting content for online publication at uscatholic.org, click here.
Types of articles published in U.S. Catholic:
FEATURE ARTICLES cover current trends and issues both in and out of the church, putting a faith perspective on topics of concern to everyday Catholics. Feature articles in U.S. Catholic cover a wide range of topics, such as family life, education, economics, science, immigration, social justice, the environment, and parish life. Cover features are approximately 3,500 words, while shorter features are about 2,700 words. Our feature stories aim to go beyond basic reporting by offering analysis and interpretation of the issues, including a wide range of sources who can offer different takes on the topic and represent all sides. All articles should have an explicit religious dimension, enabling readers to see the interaction between their faith and the issue at hand. With features it is best to submit a pitch letter rather than a completed article. Please note: U.S. Catholic does not publish feature articles about individual people, schools, organizations, religious orders, or programs/ministries. A sample can be found here.
Stand-alone ESSAYS generally range from 800 to 1,400 words and present thoughtful reflections or opinions on concerns Catholics face in everyday life. We look for new or differnt takes on a familiar issue or topics that are not often presented from a faith perspective. A sample can be found here.
SOUNDING BOARD is a monthly feature in which a writer makes an argument on a specific issue which can have multiple viewpoints. The article is posted online along with a reader survey prior to publication and the results of the survey and a sampling of readers' comments are then published along with the article in the magazine. Sounding Board is a strongly worded opinion piece on an issue of importance to Catholics in which the author argues one side of a many-sided subject and outlines a plan of action. The more strongly argued, the better. Articles are roughly 1,400 words. A sample can be found here.
In PRACTICING CATHOLIC, the author focuses on a particular Catholic tradition, devotion, ritual, or the like to reclaim the value of the topic for Catholics today. In other words, the goal is to help readers understand a piece of Catholic heritage and tap into its present value. The author should include a personal account of why the practice is important in his or her life and how he or she practices it, and then briefly examine the history of the practice and why it was valued in the past, explain its meaning, and, most importantly, express how it transmits meaning for contemporary Catholics. The piece should not be primarily a history of the subject or an exhortation to everyone to reclaim it. Length is 800 words, with a 150-word sidebar on some aspect of the practice. This column appears four times per year. A sample can be found here.
IN PERSON personality profiles tell readers how particular Catholics are living their faith in today's world. The subjects of our profiles are people who are doing creative, innovative things in their life and readers may be surprised to learn the person is Catholic or that faith is a motivating the person's work. Generally we do not feature priests or men and women religious, but lay Catholics who are working outside the church. An In Person profile is not a biography of the subject but rather a brief capsule that illustrates, through personal details and events in the subject's life, the personality, importance, and faith of the subject. These profiles are approximately 800 words and include a pull-out box with a four to six "quick-take" questions. This department appears four times per year. A sample can be found here.
In a WISE GUIDE essay, the author introduces a spiritually significant, non-living individual from the Catholic tradition and gives a personal account of why his or her spirituality is meaningful today. The significant individual can be a saint from long ago, a well-known historical figure, or a modern Catholic who is no longer with us, from all walks of life. The author should provide readers with pertinent biographical information on the subject while explaining how the subject has been a guide for the author and can be a guide to all Catholics today. The author should have a personal connection with the subject and be able to highlight a unique aspect of his or her spirituality with which readers can also resonate. Length is 900 words plus 2-4 quotes from the subject. Wise Guide appears four times per year. A sample can be found here.
GLAD YOU ASKED is a brief monthly article that presents an informed and enlightened response to a basic question of Catholic doctrine, history, identity, and/or pastoral practice. Responding to the need of Catholics today for solid information about their church, GYA does not assume prior knowledge or preconceived notions on the part of readers but only the desire of people to understand more about the church and its tradition. The article begins with a straightforward question such as "Why does Lent have 40 days?" and offers a simple, clear answer. Length is 450 words. A sample can be found here.
REVIEWS summarize and critique a book (generally non-fiction), movie, or musical work. The content of the work does not have to be specifically religious. Reviews should provide a brief summary of content with a greater emphasis on critique. Length is 300 words. Samples can be found here.
SHORT STORIES. Unsolicited short stories are welcome, although U.S. Catholic does not frequently publish fictional works. Topics vary, but unpublished fiction should be no longer than 1,500 words and should include strong characters and cause readers to stop for a moment and consider their relationships with others, the world, and/or God. Specifically religious themes are not required; subject matter is not restricted. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Usually respond in 8-10 weeks. A sample can be found here.
POETRY. Submission of original, unpublished poems is welcome, but U.S. Catholic only publishes at most one poem per issue. Poems do not have to be religious and there are no restrictions on subject matter or form. We are looking for high quality, powerful poems that will evoke a strong response from readers. Email submissions to email@example.com. Due to the high volume of poetry we receive, it often takes 10 to 12 weeks to receive a response. A sample can be found here.
U.S. Catholic does not accept submissions to the following departments and columns: Editors' Note, The Examined Life, Signs of the Times, Catholic Tastes, Expert Witness, Testaments, Culture in Context, Margin Notes, At Home with Our Faith, or Eye of the Beholder.
If you are interested in writing any of these articles, please e-mail the editors of U.S. Catholic with a suggested angle or outline. Include some writing samples if possible.
Or e-mail us your submission at the appropriate address below: