Writer's Guidelines

FOREIGN POLICY readers are well-informed, intelligent individuals with a wide range of interests. But they are not necessarily specialists in international affairs -- in fact, as many business people read FP as academics and practitioners combined. Our readers want to be provoked, surprised, and presented with memorable information and rigorous analysis. They don’t want long-winded arguments, insider jargon, narrow topics, or excessively technical writing.

The ideal FP article strikes a balance: It is a reference for debate among specialists, but it also engages and informs a general-interest reader. Sharp analytical thinking should complement reporting. Opinion pieces or essays should use original data, anecdotes, and wit to draw in readers.

We look forward to hearing your ideas!


Before you pitch us an idea, keep a few things in mind:

  • Read the magazine and the website. It’s the best way to get a sense of what we like, and the easiest way to avoid sending us something we’ve already covered.
  • Avoid the obvious. We receive dozens of pieces with titles such as “NATO at the Crossroads” and “The Future of Trans-Atlantic Relations.” We publish almost none of them.
  • Connect the dots. FP focuses on why what happens “there” matters “here” -- and vice versa. That’s why we rarely run articles on single countries. So unless your piece on Nagorno-Karabakh is going to be relevant or worth reading by someone in, say, Antananarivo, don’t bother sending it.
  • Don’t send us anything that refers to “our” interests “abroad.” Unless, that is, you’re the president, the secretary of state, or some other government official. FP has readers in more than 90 countries and seven foreign editions, so articles that assume a strictly American audience are probably not for us.
  • Steer clear of wonky, technical language. FP believes in making big ideas accessible to the widest possible audience.
  • Provide original research or reporting to support your ideas. And be prepared to document what you say. FP fact-checks everything we publish.
  • Pitch articles for specific departments. FP has a variety of different formats, almost all of which are open to outside contributors. See below for details.
  • Include your full mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address.
  • Don’t send us any article or proposal that begins with “Since the end of the Cold War...” or “In the wake of September 11...” Really. Please don’t.

FP Departments and Submission Contacts

We offer many avenues for the enterprising writer. An idea that does not work well in one FP format may well find a comfortable home in another. Consider the fit of your idea to the following descriptions of FP’s sections and their requirements. Then, submit your article idea to the most appropriate department. Please submit your article idea to only ONE contact. If you are not sure where your idea would best fit, submit your idea to us at Editor@ForeignPolicy.com.


Think Again
A guerrilla attack on the conventional wisdom surrounding a consequential issue. Previous Think Again subjects have included al Qaeda, Alan Greenspan, China, and the neocons. Authors choose 8 to 10 assertions reflecting the common consensus on a topic (such as “China is undertaking a huge military buildup,” or “Greenspan is responsible for the U.S. economic boom of the 1990s”) and write short essays (about 350 words each) scrutinizing each assertion. The complete article is approximately 3,000 words long. Your best bet is to send us a one-page outline with a list of proposed assertions -- not the full text.


Arguments

In FP’s Arguments section, authors are encouraged to take a provocative stand in approximately 1,000 words. Think of these as thoughtful op-eds with some shelf life -- topical, but not ephemeral. You should be able to distill your most salient point into one sentence. Just about any issue is fair game.


Prime Numbers
Prime Numbers is a marriage of data-intense graphics and text that tells a compelling story about an issue of global importance. Authors provide data for four or five graphics and accompanying text, which includes an introduction and four to five small packages of commentary and facts to bolster your case (100 words each). Recent Prime Numbers have covered world voting trends, emissions of greenhouse gases, the global labor market, the world market for cultural goods, and cross-country comparisons of crime and punishment data.


In Other Words
FP only reviews books published outside the United States, and quite often unavailable in English. Our goal is to expose readers to important ideas and debates that they otherwise might not hear about. The books in question do not have to be about international affairs. We welcome reviews that focus on contentious domestic issues, culture, economics, and sociology. In recent issues, we reviewed a Kikuyu novel offering insight into Kenyan politics, a controversial German book lamenting the country’s social and demographic malaise, and an Israeli book on reforming the Israel Defense Forces. Book reviews are typically 1,200 words in length. Our reviews assess the quality of the books and place those books in the context of current events. In short, tell us why this book is so important or controversial.


Still not sure where your idea might work best? Submit your idea to us at Editor@ForeignPolicy.com.