Writer’s Guidelines for U.S. Catholic

Because most articles are commissioned by the editors, please send a written query about an article idea before writing the article. To familiarize yourself with the kinds of articles we run in U.S. Catholic, please spend some time browsing our Web site at http://www.uscatholic.org/

Types of articles published in U.S. Catholic:
FEATURE ARTICLES cover issues such as prayer and spirituality, sacraments, liturgy, parish life, family life, social issues, public life, theology, everyday morality, and other aspects of an everyday Catholic’s life. Articles range from 2,500 to 4,000 words and should include general background on the topic and extensive interviews with people in the pew and experts. All articles should have an explicit religious dimension, enabling readers to see the interaction between their faith and the issue at hand. Minimum payment is $500.

Stand-alone ESSAYS generally range from 1,100 to 1,800 words and present thoughtful reflections or opinions on concerns Catholics face or suggest new ways of dealing with an old subject of interest to lay Catholics. Minimum payment is $250.

SOUNDING BOARD is a monthly feature in which an article is sent to readers in advance of publication along with a questionnaire asking for their comments about the article. The results of the questionnaire and a sampling of readers’ comments are then published along with the article in the magazine. The Sounding Board article is a strongly worded opinion piece on an issue of importance to U.S. Catholic readers 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 range from 1,100 to 1,300 words, and payment is $250.

In the PRACTICING CATHOLIC column, the author focuses on a particular Catholic tradition, devotion, ritual, doctrine, or the like to reclaim the value of the topic for Catholics today—in other words, to 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 750 words and payment is $150.

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’s work and reflect the diversity of Catholics in the United States. Although sometimes the subjects are recognizable, or even famous, just as often they are ordinary people, but always with extraordinary stories and lives. These profiles are approximately 800 words and include a pull-out box with a half-dozen or so “quick-take” questions. Payment is $200.

THE EXAMINED LIFE column offers engaging commentary and reflection on modern life in the light of faith. Sometimes, but not necessarily, it provides a unique Catholic take on news events or societal trends, and it generally includes an account of a personal experience by the author that led her or him to “examine life” (the author's own or the life of the larger culture or the church) and to explore the underlying faith meaning and implications. The length for our "Examined Life" pieces is 750 words, and we pay $200.

SHORT STORIES. Topics vary, but unpublished fiction be no longer than 2,500 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. Send SASE for response, or email . No attachments to electronic submissions, please. Usually respond in 8-10 weeks. Minimum payment is $300.

POETRY. Submit 3-5 original, unpublished poems. We are not necessarily looking for religious themes. Subject matter and form are not restricted, but we generally prefer no more than 50 lines per poem. We are looking for high quality poetry; no light verse. Send SASE for response. No attachments to electronic submissions, please. Send SASE for response, or e-mail . Usually respond in 8-10 weeks. Minimum payment is $75 per poem.

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.

Our address: U.S. Catholic, 205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60606
E-mail: editors@shrineofstjude.org
Phone: 312-236-7782, ext. 422.