FSJ Author Guidelines

All material appearing in The Foreign Service Journal reflects the opinions of the individual contributors only, and not necessarily the views of the Journal, the Editorial Board or the American Foreign Service Association, our publisher.

The Foreign Service Journal Editorial Board reviews and approves all submissions, which are then subject to editing for style, length and format. Such editing is consultative but, as with other periodicals, the Journal has the final say in case of disagreements. Average lead time between board approval and publication is 3-4 months.

We do not require U.S. government employees to seek agency clearance, but active-duty authors are strongly encouraged to check with their post or bureau for guidance prior to submitting material for publication – particularly when addressing any aspect of U.S. government policy. Neither the Journal nor its publisher, AFSA, accepts any liability for a contributor’s failure to do so.

For more information on clearances, please see the AFSA Guidance for Public Communication and check 3 FAM 4170 “Review of Public Speaking, Teaching, Writing and Media Engagement.”

We welcome freelance submissions for consideration but advise authors that it is comparatively rare for the Editorial Board to approve pieces by non-Foreign Service contributors for publication. The FSJ does pay authors who are not active-duty federal employees for submissions we publish, but because AFSA is a nonprofit association, we do not pay a commercial rate.

Manuscripts and questions about the process should be sent to journal@afsa.org. When submitting an article or column for Editorial Board review, please always include a brief biographical paragraph summarizing your Foreign Service career or affiliation, including current position (if any). And always include a proposed article title and your name on the article submission itself. Click here for the Journal's editorial calendar.

For a better idea of our format, style and coverage, we invite potential authors to visit our website, www.afsa.org/fsj, to read past issues of the Journal.

We welcome photos to accompany article submissions. Photos should directly relate to the article topic, and can be submitted with the article or after the article is approved for publication. Photos must be 300 dpi and 1 MB or larger.

Here is a list of FSJ departments that accept unsolicited submissions.


The Foreign Service Journal welcomes brief, focused letters from individual readers reacting to items we have published or topics of general interest to AFSA members. (In general, 200 to 400 words is a good target.) All letters are subject to editing for style, length and format, and reflect the opinion of the individual writer only. Letters should be signed and give the author’s city/state of residence and current government position or affiliation (if any). Note that except under very rare circumstances, all writers are identified.


This is a forum in which members of the Foreign Service community can advocate policy, regulatory or statutory changes affecting the Service. These columns (1,500 to 1,800 words) are usually based on personal experience with a professional issue, but can also present the writer’s insights into a matter concerning diplomacy and development policy and practice, with recommendations for better addressing it. On rare occasions, the FSJ will publish a Speaking Out by someone from the broader foreign affairs community, if that author is raising an issue relevant to Foreign Service readers.


This occasional department features contributions from FS-affiliated personnel sharing insights on topics ranging from managing one’s career and cutting red tape to parlaying one’s professional skills in retirement, as well as financial information and other professional guidance geared specifically to Foreign Service personnel. Submissions should be approximately 1,500 words long.


Each edition of the FSJ features a set of articles examining various facets of a chosen subject. These themes are either Foreign Service-specific or address a foreign affairs issue. Most focus articles are commissioned, but the Editorial Board does consider unsolicited contributions for inclusion in focus sections.

In October or November, the Editorial Board sets and shares the Editorial Calendar of projected focus topics for the coming year. These themes are subject to change, but the calendar serves as a good guide. The Editorial Calendar appears in the print edition and on the FSJ website, and is also disseminated via AFSA’s listserv, AFSAnet. Please submit focus articles for consideration at least three months before the publication month.

Focus articles should be between 1,500 and 2,500 words long, though shorter submissions are always welcome. Please employ non-academic style (e.g., no footnotes/endnotes or list of citations), avoid jargon, and spell out acronyms on first reference, particularly when they would be unfamiliar to most readers.

Contributions should reflect geographic and/or functional expertise, not simply personal opinion. Authors are also urged to put the emphasis on practice rather than theory, keeping in mind that our readers are primarily but not exclusively diplomatic and development practitioners.


Other than the fact that they are standalone pieces, not intended to be part of a larger set of articles, features follow the same basic guidelines as focus articles. They can be either analytical or personal in nature.


As its name suggests, this department is intended to spotlight the achievements of diplomats whose names many of us know only from history books or the halls of the Department of State. Where possible, contributors are requested to provide high-resolution (at least 300 dpi) photographs of the individual(s) they profile. Submissions should be between 2,000 and 3,000 words long, in non-academic style.


Friends or colleagues of prominent decedents who made notable contributions to the Foreign Service and/or U.S. diplomacy are invited to submit short (1,000-1,500 words) commentaries highlighting the individual’s accomplishments and personal involvement in foreign affairs.


This department presents short commentaries (approximately 600 words long) based on personal experiences while living or traveling overseas. Such submissions should center on insights gained as a result of interactions with other cultures, rather than being descriptive “travel pieces.” Poetry and high-resolution photographs (at least 300 dpi) are also eligible for publication as Reflections, though rarely used.


Reviews are always assigned, though reviewers are encouraged to suggest relevant new books that suit our audience. These should be approximately 600 words long and include the following information about the book: title, author, publisher, year of publication, price, hardcover or paperback, and number of pages.

Book reviewers should not simply provide a summary of what the book covers. Instead, use the content as a way to explain the book’s significance, commenting briefly on its literary merit and relevance to U.S. diplomacy or world affairs. Strong points of view are encouraged, but should be backed up by citations from the text and/or examples from the reviewer’s professional experience.

Although the Journal does not pay for book reviews, reviewers receive a complimentary copy of the book being reviewed if they do not already have it.


The FSJ’s In Memory department, which is reserved for members of the Foreign Service and their immediate families, is published on alternate months, according to the schedule below. The obituaries average between 300 and 500 words in length, but that is a guideline and not a limit. We do not use photographs. You may write the obituary yourself, or send us the information and we will draft it.

Please be sure to include date, place and cause of death; details of the individual’s Foreign Service career (when entered, postings, when retired); and survivors and where they live. In addition, our readers are very interested in what their colleagues have done in retirement. You may also want to include birthplace, education and any other highlights of the individual's life.

Obituaries or inquiries concerning obituaries may be sent to journal@afsa.org, or by snail mail to: The Foreign Service Journal, 2101 E Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20037.


This section of the magazine offers many different ways for members to share their experiences, thoughts and concerns regarding professional issues, including the following departments: Family Member Matters, Of Special(ist) Concern (a forum for specialists), Where to Retire, The System and You, On the Lighter Side (FS humor), Memo of the Month, and The System and You (notes from inside the bureaucracy).


Each November, the FSJ features an annotated compilation of books by Foreign Service-affiliated authors that have been published during the previous year, “In Their Own Write.” A short selection of other books related to foreign affairs but not produced by FS authors, “Of Related Interest,” is also included. (All these books are also listed in AFSA’s online bookstore for purchase.)

Foreign Service authors wishing to have their books included are invited to send a copy of the book, together with publication details and promotional materials, to:

The Foreign Service Journal
2101 E St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

Please address any questions to journal@afsa.org.


The back page of The Foreign Service Journal features international photography from the Foreign Service community. Each month we select one image. Photographers should submit (only) one favorite recent image, taken within the past year, to locallens@afsa.org. Image should be high-resolution (300 dpi and 1 MB or larger). Please include a brief description of the scene (who, what, where, when), as well as your name, a brief bio note and the type of camera used.