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Guidelines for Contributors

If you are considering contributing to Descent, please read the following notes.

All material relating to caves, mines and the world underground is welcomed by Descent. New contributors are encouraged to discuss their ideas for suitability and style of submission. Permission for reproduction in Descent is the sole responsibility of the contributor, whether the copyright holder or not: please ask permission before submitting other peoples' material and respect their copyright.

It is you, the caver, who supports and makes Descent possible. The quality of its contents depends on your news, photographs, surveys and overall submissions, whether these are short reports or longer articles. Descent is, in the end, both a vehicle for entertaining and also recording for posterity, but it depends on your input. Very few contributors are professionals: everyone involved is simply sending material that they are proud to have produced, and we are proud to have the opportunity to feature.

We therefore encourage you to contribute, but please note that we reserve the right to edit all submissions, partly through the normal editing process but also to fit available space.

Please consider the following notes.

Articles: If submitting through the post, please print on one side of the paper only. If writing by hand, print all names and dates. Include the full name (rather than an abbreviation) of caving clubs and the full name at least once of any person otherwise referred to only by first name or nickname. Please supply your name and address, even if there is no material to return (including letters for publication and, in particular, if submitting material by e-mail). Most submissions are likely to be made by e-mail; please remember that you should not embed images in the text, but send these as separate attached files. Short reports for news pages are always welcome while longer articles normally have a word limit of up to 2,500 words, but please discuss this with the editor if in doubt or you feel a need to exceed this.

Subject matter may be quite broad, from exploration news and articles to historical overviews of a cave or area. In general, Descent does not publish 'my first time caving' types of article, or general interest articles that are more suited to a non-caving-specific magazine. However, for every rule there may be an exception, so if you think you have something of interest to say to the caving community, please make contact. The one thing we expect you to have is a knowledge of caving; without this, you are unlikely to understand the nuances of the sport or be able to write authoritatively.

References: Descent house style is to number references in the text using a superscript, in the order they appear in, and list the corresponding references separately in one of two forms (adapted for multiple authors and/or details of journals: if in doubt, please supply additional information and during editing this will be incorporated). Pagination is elided.

FAMILY NAME, first name. Year. Book title, publisher, town
FAMILY NAME, first name. Year. 'Article title', publication title, Vol. xx, (issue number), ppxx [pagination]

DOE, John. 2010. How to Write Citations, Anypub, London
JONES, John. 2010. 'How to write citations', Descent, (250), pp26-7

Note that Descent does not have a volume number and, although bimonthly (each issue covers two months), when referencing Descent articles it is usual to only include the first of these if required:

SMITH, Joan. 2021. 'How to write citations', Descent, (250), pp26-7


SMITH, Joan. 2021. 'How to write citations', Descent, (280), June, pp26-7

Surveys: Labels can be typeset onto a drawing or survey by Descent, but if supplied on paper the illustration should be in ink and suitable for reproduction. Ensure surveys have a north arrow, scale (not ratio), a correct entrance grid reference and credits. Surveys will probably be reduced in size and the line thickness must permit this or the survey will have to be redrawn. If in doubt, much time can be saved by contacting the editor before drawing a survey specially for Descent or sending it by e-mail (do not jpg the survey as this can destroy fine lines). Illustrator (.ai) files, or those files which will import correctly into Illustrator, are ideal formats for surveys and the requirement for a vector file to be importable into Illustrator is essential for any high-end complex surveys. PDF files are accepted if editable.

Maps: Area maps sometimes accompany articles, for example to show the hydrology or geology of an area, or precise locations of cave entrances. There are copyright issues if sketch maps are based on on Ordnance Survey mapping, so please contact the editor for advice when submitting UK-based area maps: it is your responsibility to satisfy copyright requirements.

Photographs: Descent requires top-class colour material for cover and internal use. Colour prints, colour negatives and colour slides can all be used if of historic interest, though digital files from a good quality digital camera are preferred and are generally superior in quality. In all cases please ensure that the photographer’s name is credited and full captions are supplied, which should include names in full of the cave, passage or area. If required, photographs can usually be scanned and quickly returned. If you identify any person by name that appears in a photograph, unless deemed for journalistic reasons you must obtain their consent.

Captions are frequently not dealt with carefully. It is not helpful to supply a file named as it came from the camera (_IMG1234.jpg, for example) with a list of captions in an email. Please remember that multiple files arrive at Descent all the time, and later matching an e-mail caption with a file that bears no information to go on is difficult. Please rename your file to something sensible, supply written captions and (if possible) embed the information in the metadata.

File supply: Submissions by e-mail or on CD or DVD are greatly appreciated; please check with the editor for the suitability of specific word processor files, but Word, RTF and ASCII formats are all accepted (the publication is PC-based so if supplying from a Mac, please ensure cross-platform readability is maintained). If supplying by e-mail note that formatting and special characters (such as accents) may be lost in conversion, so please ensure any are pointed out.

Large graphics files: If scanned to a suitable specification in .tif format (please check with the editor for specifications), large files that cannot be compressed for e-mail or ftp transmission can be accepted on CD or DVD. By using compression methods other than .jpg many large files can be sent electronically, even so. WeTransfer or Dropbox are preferred as a transmission method for large files, or other suitable online storage/sending schemes such as OneDrive (formerly Skydrive). Please ensure that any submission is set to allow download by Descent without requiring signing up to a service (we may already have an account, but adding more does start to become wearing ...).

Surveys and diagrams saved as .ai, .tif, .eps (only with fonts converted to paths) or .pdf and some other formats are welcome, but check with the editor for resolutions and program/format versions to use before despatch. Digital files from ‘mass market’ compact cameras may not contain sufficient data for publication, but low compression/high quality .jpg files from 5 megapixel cameras (for small sizes in print) or better should be suitable for reproduction, but generally a higher quality camera is required to maintain the quality that you expect in Descent. Images taken on a mobile phone may not be suitable for reproduction; output is always improving, but even some submissions in 2021 have been limiting in their use.

There are problems with .tif and .jpg files being submitted that have been incorrectly prepared or overcompressed and rendered useless for reproduction in Descent, in particular surveys (where the resolution is too low for printing or the .jpg compression has destroyed fine lines). There are also limitations (especially so) when using ‘screen captures’ from surveying or other computer programs, or 'screen grabs' from videos. In all cases where there is any doubt, please check with the editor before preparing or submitting such files.

We frequently encounter difficulties with .jpg images attached to an e-mail when sent from a Mac, which often (although departing as attachments) arrive embedded in the mail. This appears to be a 'helpful' feature of a Mac, but it renders the file useless for Descent because there is no good method to extract them after arrival. Please ensure all files are attached (not embedded) and if sending from a Mac, please zip the file before attaching it as this always comes through as an attachment (or use WeTransfer or similar).

Information on preparing artwork for advertisements appears HERE; much of this also applies to all image preparation, for those cavers interested in learning more about preparing photographs for print.

E-mail: E-mail enquiries and submissions are welcome, but please do not submit large attachments such as photographs without having made an initial enquiry, otherwise large files may be refused.

Every possible care is taken of all material submitted, but no responsibility can be accepted for loss or damage. Please make sure you enclose your name and address with any submission that is mailed to us, as well as a stamped SAE for anything you wish returned. However it is received, any such material will be returned using normal post (not special delivery, unless arranged in advance).

Some of the technical details above may feel offputting; we hope that this is not the case and in every instance, we are here to help those who try to help us. Please do not be put off by any 'requirements' – we are happy to work with you, though please note the following important statements:

You should make it clear if the same or similar material has been published or is being submitted to any other magazine, or if it appears in substantially the same form on a website, which may affect its acceptance by Descent. As a generalisation, if any submission is already published, online or otherwise, it will not be accepted for publication by Descent. Neither will it be accepted if any use is intended online or elsewhere after publication in Descent, just as we do not place content online ourselves. What is written for Descent should please stay with Descent. All material submitted is subject to editing to house style and to suit available space.

To also repeat this point: permission for reproduction and to obtain the consent of anyone named, if appropriate, is the sole responsibility of the contributor. Please respect the copyright and individual rights of others, and of Descent. If Wild Places Publishing receives any complaint concerning copyright that concerns material you submitted, we will inform that person that we were granted permission for use and it will be solely your responsibility to deal with the complainant.