Contributing Material

Contributing Material

NMRA Magazine is in need of a steady supply of articles and photos, and we want your input. This submittal guide should help you determine the best formats for submittals, the best types of photography to submit, and where we need your help.

Anything you submit can be returned after use. We prefer email as a quick means of communication. When submitting material, an email will let us know it's coming and we'll acknowledge its arrival via return email just as soon as it's here.

We assume all material is to be returned. However, let us know if the material need not be returned and it will be sent to the NMRA Kalmbach Memorial Library in Chattanooga for preservation. Please carefully put your name on each and every item. Without a name on an item it is more likely to get "lost" in the files and he difficult to retrieve. The name can be put on a Post-It if writing on the object is not feasible (on an original timetable, for example). Please be diligent to put your name on everything, including CDs, prints, slides, timetables, and the like.

Sending anything in the mail is a risk. This risk can he virtually eliminated by insuring valuable photographs, timetables, maps or similar non-replaceable items. Ask yourself "If this package were to be lost, would I be able to replace its contents easily?" If yes, regular mail is probably Okay; if no, it is probably worth the nominal fee for insurance, certified mail, or return receipt mail.

Although we take great care of photographic material while it's here and always use insured mail to return valuable images, PRRP, Ltd., White River Productions and the NMRA are not liable for any damage that occurs to photographic resources. Every effort is made to handle all material in the safest manner, and to date we have seen no damage occur to contributors' slides, prints or other material.

Images: Slides and Prints
NMRA Magazine depends on the images on file for the majority of the photographs that are run. PRRP, Ltd. scans all images in-house which means that your originals never leave our office and reside in a fireproof safe while here for scanning. Slides are never removed from their original mounts nor are they cleaned with any chemicals.

We regularly scan portions of large collections to preserve the images for future issues of the NMRA Magazine, future calendar or book projects, and other publishing ventures. If you are interested in loaning us your collection, we'll scan the pertinent images out of the collection and return it in a relatively short time. Large collections of 1,000 slides or more may take several weeks to complete the scanning, while smaller batches of 40 will generally get scanned and returned within a few days.

Images: Scans
In many cases reader scans are unacceptable for publication; there are many places where things can go awry. Good scans are paramount to a quality magazine. We do, however, accept scans submitted on CD. We have an FTP site ( for easy upload of large files. Please email us for the username and password at sreditor [at] Photo manipulation should never be done on any scans. Please do not use any "sharpening" software when you scan, and send us only "raw" scans, right from the scanner. If you manipulate them, it often does irreparable damage that we can no longer correct for offset printing. Also, please do not crop or zoom in on a photo scanning the entire image is better and easier for us to choose a crop specific to the layout we need. We need pertinent information on all images, at a minimum date, location, and photographer.

Images: Resolution and Format on Scans
Probably the most common question on scans concerns resolution. Basically we need a high enough resolution to wind up with 300 dpi on the printed page. For example, if you're scanning a 5x7 print and you scan it at 72 dpi (computer size) and 100 %, when that's translated into 300 dpi it becomes the size of a postage stamp. If you scan a 5x7 print at 300 dpi at 100 % scale, we can run it 5x7 in the magazine, but not larger. One of the best ways to be sure is to scan B&W images to be about 10 megs (not K!), and color RGB images need to be about 35 megs. For all images we prefer "tif" files not jpeg format. Jpegs have compression algorithms that cause problems in offset printing, but we can use them if they're high enough dpi (300) and large enough. Scanned submittals are best sent in on CD or FTP (see above), rather than by email.

The largest portion of pages in the NMRA Magazine is devoted to articles. These can range from a short paragraph essay on a particular subject to full-length multi-page articles. They can cover prototype, modeling, or experiences. Perfect grammar and spelling are not necessary That is what the editorial staff accomplishes.

What is necessary is supporting information and photographs, or at least an idea of what you envision for the piece. We have substantial photographic resources, but your photos will always help. We have cartographic (map making) capabilities and resources if maps are needed.

Maps, drawings, plans, or artwork should be as "clean" as possible. Average photocopies are sometimes difficult to work with. If you have an original, we can scan the original without having it sent out to a production firm, so send that material with the article. To increase your chance at being published, articles from 3 to 6 pages should be your target.

For black & white, 8x10 black & white prints are best, but we can work from smaller prints. Color prints are generally problematic, but a really sharp print can be used. For color, original color slides are best. E-6 process slides are easier to scan and correct. Most slides can be converted adequately to B&W.

If you are working on a color article, a fairly large number of images are necessary to get good layouts that work well. If you don't have the photographic resources we may be able to help. In general, the narrower (and older) the subject the more difficult it is to find supporting photography We also scan directly from both black & white negatives and color negatives, and even large format negatives all in house.

The advent of digital photography has brought both advantages and problems to the world of publishing. Most cheaper digital cameras are incapable of offering adequate depth of field. Usually f8 is the smallest aperture size possible. We usually shoot images at f22 or even f32 when possible. Close-up model photography demands at least f22 be used. If your camera is incapable of good depth of field, we will not be able to use the images. In order to use digitally captured images, the camera must gather at least 5 mega-pixels worth of data. Lower resolutions will appear pixilated when printed. We will reject any images that do not meet these minimum requirements. Please send images in "raw" format.

Article Format:
The absolute best format for an article is to cut and paste your text into an email. Second best is Microsoft Word or similar program. With text programs, tabs are better than spaces when trying to line up columns. Text in other programs depend on available conversion utilities. Preferred media are CDs or DVDs. We use Macintosh computers, so native PC files should be pasted into an email and sent that way or saved as a text-only file prior to sending. Macs can read PC-formatted discs, CDs, and DVDs.

Your submission should include any of the following:
- Text, in one of the above formats
- Supporting photographs, with captions
- Basic information on all images (date, location, and photographer)
- Maps, timetables, or drawings
- Your name on everything
If you have other questions, contact Stephen or Cinthia Priest at PRRP, Ltd.

Thank You!