Author Guidelines

Hydrocarbon Processing's - Author's Handbook

The Leading Publication for the Hydrocarbon Processing Industry

This handbook is for the nonprofessional writer  particularly prospective authors for Hydrocarbon Processing (HP). However, you will also find hints to help you prepare better technical reports, society papers, manuals, etc.

You will learn...

  • How HP articles are selected and edited.
  • HP's editorial requirements.
  • How to write and submit a readable, interesting manuscript.

HP leads all other publications in numbers of subscribers in the hydrocarbon processing industry (HPI). We attribute much of this success to the fact that HP is written largely by industry people  not by the editors. The HPI's most authoritative spokesmen have by-lines in HP feature articles. So the magazine is literally the voice of the industry it serves.

What are HP's editorial policies?  Will the editors revise my manuscript?
Before writing ...
Who reads HP?
What kind of articles does HP publish?
What is HP's basic readership test?
Will my article carry a by-line?
Can I publish my article elsewhere, after it is in HP?
Why should I write for HP?
How are articles selected?

What are HP's editorial policies?

Articles must meet the magazine's editorial policies. These are founded on long, successful experience in publishing. They improve editorial content and also promote reader confidence. Generally, these coincide with the policies used by HPI companies when their employees write for publication.

Here are the cardinal principles:

  • You must clear the article with authorities in the company or organization. Furthermore, if information in the article is based on the activities of an organization other than the one with whom you are employed, clearance for use of the material must be obtained from that organization. (This protects you as well as us.).
  • Equipment trade names and identification of equipment manufacturers or service companies cannot be used. Names of operating companies may be used if the company has agreed in advance. HP prefers to show the author's name and affiliation.

Permission for publication of text and illustrations from professional societies, etc., should be obtained by you. Then tell the editor, in writing, when you submit the manuscript, that you have obtained such permission.

  • HP reserves the right to edit, reword, rearrange or rewrite the manuscript to conform with the magazine's style and standard or presentation. Changes will be checked with you in advance of publication.

Before writing ...

...a letter of inquiry or e-mail is a good idea. Write to Editor, Hydrocarbon Processing, P.O. Box 2608, Houston, Texas, U.S.A. 77252 or e-mail: Outline briefly what you have in mind. If your proposed article isn't acceptable, HP will tell you promptly.

Upon getting your correspondence, the editor may suggest the approach, information of most value to the reader and illustrations.

If HP's interest is marginal, the editor often recommends another publication. But once your manuscript is accepted, you are assured  because of HP's preeminence in the field  of the widest possible HPI exposure.

Who reads HP?

HP has a specialized circulation. This means that only certain persons in the fields of refining, petrochemical or gas processing  the hydrocarbon processing industry (HPI)  can subscribe.

Subscribers include engineers, company officials, directors and managers, superintendents, foremen, chemists, technicians and fire/safety personnel. So HP is published for the skilled applied scientists. Readership surveys show that the "average" reader has about 15 years of industry experience and is in his middle 30s to early 40s. Most are technical professionals.

What kind of articles does HP publish?

Nearly all offer practical on-the-job information the reader can use in his or her work. HP also publishes HPI news and trends. But it is primarily a monthly working textbook of current engineering or engineering-management practices.

Technical coverage is divided into petrochemical, gas processing and refining developments, process and construction engineering, maintenance and loss prevention, environmental, rotating equipment, and instrumentation and process control.

The "Management Guidelines" section features articles on administration and supervision, economics, training, human resource development, labor relations and employment practices.

Emphasis is on the practical. HP offers ideas, techniques and information to increase the reader's job proficiency and professional competence.

What is HP's basic readership test?

Each manuscript is judged on the basis of how many of the following questions it will answer affirmatively:

  • Will it improve operations of a hydrocarbon processing company or an engineering construction firm?
  • Will it help such a company arrive at a decision or formulate policy?
  • Will it help readers improve their personal position, technical competence, professional status or chance for promotion?
  • Will it Ð purely from interest  concern a large segment of readers and make them want to read it?

Remember a first-publication rights article gets special consideration. Articles, like products, are competitive. Timeliness is important. So is the amount of topic's exposure. Consequently, if the article has been published elsewhere, it is less likely to be accepted by HP. The exception is previously published material that features updated information or major new developments.

Will my article carry a by-line?

HP is known as the "voice of the industry it serves." We are proud of our authors and their credentials. Consequently, each article should carry a by-line. Occasionally, an article is published without a by-line, by the author's request.

The article should also include a biographical sketch of your professional experience, academic credentials, etc. This should run about 75125 words. Also submit a recent photograph.

Can I publish my article elsewhere, after it is in HP?

HP is copyrighted. However, you retain the copyright to your original manuscript and illustrations.

The edited article, as published in HP, may be reprinted Ð by request  for use in training manuals, promotional efforts and the like. But permission must be obtained from the editor, in writing. HP usually requires a specific credit line with reprinted material.

When persons or organizations other than the author request permission to reprint, the author is contacted.

Why should I write for HP?

  • Articles provide a record of your work, and connote favorable appraisal by others of your efforts.
  • Articles convey your know-how, benefiting others as follows.
    • Puts you in touch with others with the same interests.
    • Stimulates constructive discussion and studies of company and industry efforts, benefiting both.
    • Makes timely information available to others, thus stimulating industry progress.
  • Writing builds personal and professional prestige and recognition. It also opens the way for further developments.
    • Writers often become consultants, in or out of the company.
    • Published articles may be considered in salary reviews, appraisals, or in evaluating promotability.
    • Articles may be used as references in applying for membership in professional societies and organizations, or in seeking another job.
  • Writing promotes personal satisfaction with these by-products:
    • You obtain a better understanding of literature in your own field. As you put your thoughts on paper, you get valuable experience in self- expression and orderly thinking.
    • Articles of merit are often considered for awards by professional societies.
    • Articles become a permanent record of your ideas and experience.

How are articles selected?

Articles come to HP from several sources. Some are solicited by the editors. Some are revised society and convention papers. Still others are unsolicited. In whatever form they come, HP articles must all pass a rigid evaluation of their reader appeal, accuracy and overall merit.

Reader interest determines an article's value. The goal is not what material the editors, advertisers or authors want, but what the subscribers want.

The many and varied operations within the HPI results in a wide range of potential topics for articles. All readers will never be interested in every article or even a large number of articles in a given issue. So HP tries to balance each issue with a variety of articles spanning many disciplines and subjects. But whatever the subject, the key to stimulating the editor's interest in your manuscript is to offer material that is new, timely, well written and helpful.

HP maintains close contact with its readers. Surveys and conferences with industry experts have enabled us to set up procedures to evaluate articles. These have been improved steadily over the years. Every facet is gauged carefully for reader appeal before a manuscript is accepted.

Will the editors revise my manuscript?

HP reserves the right to edit a manuscript for length, style and clarity. In rare instances, it may be almost completely rewritten. But you will receive printer's proofs of the text. This is your chance to see that the manuscript is edited in proper context.

An editor's solicitation of a manuscript does not mean acceptance. He may require a "rewrite" or an amended draft, sometimes incorporating his or her own comments or observations. But approval to publish the "finished product" rests with you.

Sometimes months pass between inception of an article idea and publication. It takes time to give a manuscript full consideration it deserves.

HP's great care in the selection of and preparation of articles makes HP more valuable to its readers.

What writing style does HP prefer?

Use straightforward, plain English. Don't try to create a literary gem. In fact, literacy gems often come from such humble efforts. The reader isn't interested in the size of your vocabulary. He merely wants to understand.

To repeat: Short sentences and simple words speed reading and improve clarity. Too many long involved sentences and paragraphs alienate readers. Use common, everyday terms instead of highly technical ones when possible. You will expand your readership by doing so.

Write to express, not to impress.

Don't be too concerned with writing "style." Style changes will be made when HP edits your article.

If you stick to short words and mostly short sentences, punctuation nearly always will fall into place. It becomes a pitfall in long, involved sentences. Punctuation tips and guidelines appear in unabridged dictionaries. Consult one.

How long should an article be?

HP does not limit article length. But waste no words. Say what you have to say, and do it as briefly and succinctly as possible.

HP tries to hold most articles to about four magazine pages, or less. Articles that include many figures, tables, etc., can run considerably longer. But long, heavy, dull text distracts and discourages readers. A topic that requires a very long text may be considered as a series.

One magazine page is equivalent to about three typewritten pages, double-spaced. Of course, photos, figures, etc., add to length. These must be weighed in your writing process.

Strip your manuscript of wordiness and padding. Make it long enough to tell the story completely  short enough to tell it fast. Leave out nonessentials.

In striving for conciseness don't write "down" to the reader. Do not dwell upon facts he or she probably knows. At the same time, do not omit important facts.

How are illustrations and equations handled?

Drawings, charts and photographs are valuable in "merchandising" an article. They also clarify matter in the text. They help an article attract attention.

Be sure that your illustrations are numbered to match a corresponding number shown in the text.

Must I submit 'finished' illustrations?

HP does not require "finished artwork" with manuscripts. Most of the time, artwork will be redrawn by HP artists.

Legibility is the key to submitting suitable artwork with your manuscript. HP staff can work from clearly prepared "rough" art. Neatness and accuracy are the best guidelines.

Graphs should be free of all lines and lettering not essential to the reader's understanding. Don't put supplementary data on the face of the graph. Put these in the "cutline" or in the text. Scale captions should be outside the grid area.

Designate curves by brief labels placed close to the curves rather than by letters, numbers or other devices requiring a key. If a key is used, put it within the grid in an isolated position, enclosed by a light-line border  grid lines, if convenient.

Be sure to let the editor know if you want your original artwork returned to you after the article has been published.

How does HP get high readership?

The following basic principles will help you to provide an interesting and lively manuscript. To increase article readership:

  • Suggest to the editor a title that will attract the reader's attention.
  • Open with a paragraph (called a "lead") that will hold attention.
  • Present information promised by the title and summarized in the "lead."

Title or headline writing is a special skill. Thus, the editor may change the original title. Your version is your interpretation of what is in the article But the final decision of what title to use rests with the editor. He or she is an expert on the factors that will help to assure a high readership for your article.

Your lead paragraph should be an interest arouser. It must capture the reader's fast moving attention. Typical of words that stimulate interest are new, better, timely, reduced costs, improved method, unique approach, etc. These have appeal. They suggest that the article is going to have some real usefulness and utility value.

How should an article be started?

Plunge into the subject. Give the reader the meat of the story before lesser details spoil his or her appetite. Here is the place for the heart  the conclusion. Professional writers put the conclusion at the beginning where it belongs.

Avoid step-by-step development.You are writing an article, not history.

In your lead, quickly summarize benefits and key points.The lead, like the head, should stress value to the reader (reduced costs, better design, future planning, solving a problem, fewer hazards, more income, etc.).

A good headline and good lead will do more to increase readership than anything else.

Audiences at meetings are pinned to their seats by good manners. But readers can be rid of you by flipping a page.

A good lead answers most of the following questions: Who? What? When? Why? Where?and How?The order in which these questions are answered is determined by their importance. In technical articles the what, why and how are usually the most important.

Here is an example of a poor lead:

This paper presents a discussion of the problems associated with the proper and feasible manner of operating crude distillation vacuum equipment to provide the optimum product distribution with the minimum losses from thermal degradation. Presented in a tabular form are yields, product analyses and operating variables with certain other relevant data.

This is not a good way to tell busy industry readers about a new development.

The following lead hurries to the point that a bothersome problem has been solved.

What to do about thermal cracking in a vacuum unit, a long-standing problem, has recently been solved by engineers at XYZ Refining's Port George refinery. The secret is rigid control of the furnace inlet temperature, being sure that it does not go above 760¼F. Engineers gathered plenty of before-and-after data to back up claims that this is the right solution.

Now you are ready to give the reader supporting facts, in the body. Think of your article as an upside-down pyramid. The most significant information is at the top. Less relevant information then trails off until the article ends. Start with important things. Step down to less important details. Finally, you may choose to close the article with a quick, crisp summary of the major points you have made. Perhaps these can be enumerated.

The choice of whether to outline, prepare a rough draft, etc., is an individual one. For most authors, outlining promotes logical presentation and clarity. If you do outline, it may be wise to send the editor a copy before you begin your manuscript.

How is HP's staff organized?

Specialized magazines can devote the entire editorial content of each issue to topics of high interest. Readers are not forced to read material irrelevant to their work. Even on general subjects, the handling can be from a specialized viewpoint.

HP's staff members specialize. One editor gives full attention to refining; another to instrumentation and process control; a third to petrochemicals, a fourth to gas and solid fuels processing; a fifth to management; a sixth to department news, etc.

The employment of such specialized editors assures a balanced editorial content, i.e., attention in each issue to a wide variety of topics.

Questions? Contact our Editorial Staff

Can I submit Departments material?

In addition to feature articles, HP publishes monthly departments.

Perhaps you will want to submit something on a new product or new literature. Bear in mind that the development must be completely new or a major improvement on an existing one. But HP can't use information on items not yet manufactured or not yet for sale.

Include performance data highlights, unique properties, etc. so readers can accurately judge the present HPI-related application of the equipment, product, service or literature. In other words, focus on how the information will improve or aid the reader.

New catalogs, bulletins, brochures and services on which information is submitted must have HPI applications.


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