How to Write Training Articles

By Nowicki, Ed | Law & Order, January 2007 | Go to article overview

How to Write Training Articles


Nowicki, Ed, Law & Order


You want to share knowledge, experience and information that will benefit the law enforcement community beyond your agency. Here is how to go about writing an article for publication. You already have writing experience. You have been writing or approving incident reports for many years. You just need to shift gears into a different mode.

How do you come up with an idea for an article? Think of what you know and what law enforcement officers should know.

You should also consider which law enforcement periodical could be a good match for your article. The public speaking rule also goes for magazines: Know your audience. You should be very familiar with various law enforcement periodicals by reading several issues. Knowing what type of articles are published in a certain magazine can help you understand what an editor wants.

If your article is geared to a supervisor, trainer or administrator, then LAW and ORDER is the periodical to approach. Other magazines are geared specifically to line officers, and others to tactical officers, etc. Of course, some editorial overlap exists among the various periodicals.

Go to the magazine's Web site for submission information and tips. For example, on the LA W and ORDER site you will see that, "The goal of LAW and ORDER is to inform, rather than to entertain. The purpose is to improve police operations in the widest sense. For instance, this may be accomplished by informing police departments across the country of a successful program being implemented by one particular police department." This is only a small example. You can read much more on the Web site.

If you believe that you have a topic meant for a specific periodical, ask for the editorial guidelines for submitting articles to that periodical. You can sometimes download the guidelines from the periodical's Web site or send an e-mail asking for them. It is very important for you to follow each periodical's guidelines. If they want mainly "How-To" articles of between 1,800 and 2,400 words in length and written in the third person format, you really need follow that basic guideline.

Got an idea for an article? If you are a new writer, you should write a query letter to the editor. Think of the query as your letter of introduction to the editor. Get your point across quickly, and make sure that your query letter is flawless and well-organized. If your query looks like it was written on a napkin by a second-grader, you now have a guarantee that the editor won't consider you or your article.

The query letter must capture the editor's attention. It must be written so the editor will think that your article is needed. In essence, your query is a well-thought-out plan, much like a high-risk traffic stop plan. You need a beginning, which usually states the problem. The middle solves the problem with details of how this is done. The ending generally restates the problem with the best solution.

If you are a new writer and you have a good query letter, the editor may ask you to submit your article on speculation, or "on spec." This means the editor likes the idea for your article, but the quality and style of your writing is unknown. If the editor wants to publish your submitted article, you will generally be provided with a contract listing payment, if any, and ternis, including copyright ownership of the article. The contract is a formal agreement to the terms specified in the contract.

If you believe that you have a great idea for an article that is meant for publication in a certain periodical, you may want to submit your article to the editor before your query letter. Generally this is not a good idea, but if you feel that strongly, do so. …

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