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Tips for contributors

Your guide to contributing to the Biosensitive Futures website

Writing for Part 1 - (the overviews and issues papers)

Writing for Part 2 - (the social change papers)

Writing for Part 3 - Action

Writing for Part 4 - The Roundtable: an exchange of ideas


Writing for Part 1 - the overviews and issues papers

The papers in Part 1 of Biosensitive Futures are authoritative summaries (1000-3000 words) of the state of knowledge about important ecological and health themes. These papers are written in a style that is readily understood by non-specialists.

The Part 1 papers provide an overview of the human situation in the biosphere, important ecological and health issues facing societies today and the essential characteristics of biosensitive societies of the future.

Others discuss specific issues and topics.

As well as presenting an account of the state of knowledge, the Part 1 papers also:

  • make clear some of the major issues and problems facing society within the topic covered
  • are written in a way to stimulate serious consideration and constructive suggestions for dealing with these major issues and problems:
    • the Part 1 papers do not themselves, however, suggest solutions to the problems identified
    • suggestions for actions aimed at overcoming these problems are discussed in Part 2 (Social Change) and Part 4 (The Roundtable)
    • authors may wish to review their papers from time to time in the light of both these discussion and new scientific developments.


Writing for Part 2 - Social change

This Part consists of invited papers from individuals who have given thought to the changes that will be necessary to achieve sustainable biosensitive societies. Some contributors focus on changes in the societal arrangements – like the economic or education systems. Others deal with practical steps that can be taken by individuals, families, community groups, businesses and governments.

Part 2 contributions will generally:

  • be under 3,000 words (plus abstract and conclusions)
  • have brief paragraphs, with informative sub-headings every 50–120 words
  • begin with an abstract of under 100 words
  • finish with conclusions: a series of dot-points which sum up the author's prescriptions to address the problems on which the contributions focus

If you provide images they should be 72 pixels per inch, and RGB (not CMYK); if they are diagrams with blocks of colours and text .gif is best; if they are photos or have lots of colours and shading .jpg is best. If unsure or whatever send to us as high resolution (300 dpi) .pdf and we'll convert and resize as required.

To contribute to Part 2, e-mail our office or use the contact page to write, ring or visit us.


Writing for Part 3 – Action

This part consists of reports from community groups and NGOs across Australia whose activities are aimed at bringing about changes consistent with a transition to a biosensitive society. They provide concise accounts of the groups’ aims and objectives and of their activities and impacts.

These contributions will be up to 500 words.


Writing for Part 4 – Roundtable: an exchange of ideas

This part of the Program is a forum for community groups, political parties and individuals to communicate their ideas on the essential characteristics of an ecologically sustainable and healthy society of the future – and on the ways and means of achieving it.

Contributions are likely to include (1) recommendations for action relevant to the full spectrum of ecological and health issues [link to Biosensitivity paper] – with special emphasis initially on climate change, (2) views on necessary government action and on the roles of community groups and individuals in the transition.

These contributions will generally:

• be under 500 words have brief paragraphs, with informative sub-headings every 50–120 words

• be subject to editing by Biosensitive Futures

To contribute to the Roundtable or request further information, e-mail our office or use the contact page to write, ring, visit or fax us.


Writing for the web - general guidance

The main principle - Put yourself in the shoes of your reader.

Implementing the main principle

  • The majority of web users scan; they seldom read
  • Most people decide within 3 seconds if they’ll read your contribution or click away
  • Make all the main points clearly at the top of the page
  • Turn any series into a numbered or bulleted list for emphasis
  • Use informative and meaningful headings not “stock” (e.g, not “Introduction”); headings should have meaning in themselves (i.e, when not in context); at least one heading should be visible on the screen at any time as the reader scrolls down
    • headings and sub-headings help users search, understand and recall
  • Cite reputable information sources
    • provide links to other information on this website and other websites
  • One idea per paragraph, short paragraphs are best - 120 words maximum; most under 60 words

Strive for simplicity and clarity

  • Say what you want to say in the minimum number of words necessary to convey your meaning - 'murder your darlings'!
  • Write as you speak; say the words aloud; listen. We are writing for a wide general audience
  • Be enthusiastic but please ration your adjectives and adverbs
  • Ask “What am I really trying to say?”
  • Who is my reader? – any one of 700,000,000 internet users. Who are you shutting out by your tone, vocabulary or register?
    • There are more internet users in China and India than in the rest of the world.

Structure for clarity and strength

  • Use simple, elegant sentences: - subject – verb – object; - a maximum of one subordinate/dependent clause per sentence (subordinate clauses are not web-friendly)
  • Use the present tense; it is stronger
  • Avoid the passive voice; active is stronger
  • Avoid subjunctives like ‘would’ and ‘could’ when ‘will’ and ‘are’ can be used
  • Avoid jargon and other words that the reader will not be familiar with, or provide a glossary of definitions.



Hot Text: Web Writing That Works, by Jonathan and Lisa Price, 2002

Writing for the Web, by Susannah Ross, 2007

Writing for the Web 3.0, by Crawford Kilian, 2007

Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works, by Ginny Redish, 2007

See also the BBC guide on How to write for the Web


Contact us by e-mail about this page.

Page up-dated 7 January 2009