FSJ Author Guidelines

Updated 2/16/24

for Foreign Service Journal Submissions

The Foreign Service Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Foreign Service Association. Published 10 times a year in print and online, the FSJ occupies a unique space, covering diplomacy, development, and life and work in the Foreign Service from an insider’s perspective. Its bylaws spell out the publication’s mission: to provide “a forum for the lively debate of issues of interest to foreign affairs professionals.”

The Journal seeks a wide variety of opinions and voices, aiming to advance the discussion of diplomacy and development and the FS career. It is a place to air ideas as well as spark and continue conversations; a platform for diplomacy practitioners to share their experiences and reflections; and a bridge to the world outside the Foreign Service to promote understanding and support for diplomacy on the Hill, with other agencies, and the U.S. military, at think tanks and in academia.

We welcome freelance submissions for consideration but advise authors that it is comparatively rare for the FSJ Editorial Board to approve unsolicited pieces by non–Foreign Service contributors for publication. We do not accept advertorials or purely promotional pieces. The FSJ offers an author honorarium for submissions we publish by those who are not active-duty federal employees.

The Editorial Board sets the editorial direction of the Journal. Editorial Board members, appointed by the AFSA Governing Board, meet once a month to evaluate manuscripts, decide on future topics, and otherwise help ensure that the Journal speaks effectively on issues of importance to the Foreign Service.

The board also determines which articles are approved for publication. Once approved, submissions are then edited for clarity, style, and length. Such editing is consultative with the author, but, as with other periodicals, the Journal has the final say. (This applies to article title, decks, and captions as well.) The average lead time between submission and publication is three to four months.

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.

For a clear idea of our format, style, and coverage, we encourage potential authors to visit our website, www.afsa.org/fsj, to read past issues of the Journal. The FSJ Digital Archive includes more than 100 years of content and is searchable, making it a rich resource for researching any given topic. Find the archive at www.afsa.org/fsj-archive.


The FSJ does not handle or require agency clearances for articles. We do, however, recommend that active-duty U.S. government employees 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, including for retired U.S. government employees, please see the AFSA Guidance for Public Communication and check 3 FAM 4170 “Review of Public Speaking, Teaching, Writing and Media Engagement.”


  • Must be original works that have not been published elsewhere.
  • Must not be under consideration elsewhere.
  • Must use journalistic style (i.e., no footnotes or bibliographies; any necessary references or citations are to be folded into the narrative).
  • Must not include AI-generated content.
  • Must include a proposed article title and author name on the article submission itself.
  • Must include a brief (one to three sentences) author biographical note summarizing your Foreign Service career or affiliation, including current position (if any).

Please consult the list of departments below for specifics on your particular submission.

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. (see PHOTO SPECIFICATIONS below).

Manuscripts and questions about the submission process should be sent to journal@afsa.org.

FSJ Departments:


The Foreign Service Journal welcomes brief, focused letters from individual readers reacting to items we have published or topics of general interest to Foreign Service members. (In general, 200 to 400 words is a good target, for a maximum of 500 words.) 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 (or post) and current government position or affiliation (if any). Note that except under very rare circumstances, all writers are identified.


These are extended responses to articles or contributions to a discussion raised by particular articles or focus topics that are longer (generally 700 to 800 words) and more substantive than Letters to the Editor.


This is our opinion department, a forum for members of the Foreign Service community to advocate policy or administrative changes affecting the Service. These columns (1,400 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, and include 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.


Each edition of the FSJ features a focus section, a set of articles examining various facets of a chosen subject. These themes are either Foreign Service–specific (i.e., pertaining to the career) or address a global affairs issue. Most focus articles are commissioned, but the Editorial Board welcomes pitches and unsolicited contributions for consideration for focus sections.

Each fall, the Editorial Board sets 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 is posted on the AFSA website and is shared in the Editor’s Letter in December. Please submit focus articles for consideration at least three months before the expected publication month.

Focus articles should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words long, though shorter submissions are always welcome. Please employ nonacademic 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, though not exclusively, diplomatic and development practitioners.

Click here for the Journal's Editorial Calendar.


Features are standalone articles on any topic of relevance to the Foreign Service, and the guidance is otherwise the same as for focus articles. They can be either analytical or personal in nature. Submissions should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words.


AFSA News is the section of the Journal devoted to news, activities, and advocacy on behalf of the Foreign Service by AFSA as a professional association and union. Each edition features columns from AFSA constituent vice presidents. Labor Management attorneys and staff also contribute occasional columns. AFSA News includes reporting on AFSA advocacy, programs, speaker events, membership surveys, awards, recent votes by the Governing Board, and more. For more information, go to www.afsa.org/afsa-news.


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 photographs of the individual(s) they profile (see PHOTO SPECIFICATIONS). Submissions should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words long, written in non-academic style (no footnotes) and tell an engaging story from diplomatic history.


FS Know-How articles are contributions from FS-affiliated personnel sharing insights and guidance 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 1,300 to 1,500 words long.


Reviews are always assigned, though reviewers are encouraged to suggest relevant new books that suit our audience by writing to journal@afsa.org. Reviews should be approximately 700 to 850 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 or engage in extensive quoting to convey what the book is about. Instead, use the content 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.


This department presents short personal essays (600 to 700 words long) based on experiences living or traveling overseas. Such submissions should center on insights gained through interactions with other cultures, rather than being descriptive “travel pieces.” Submissions should be 600 to 700 words. We will, in cases where warranted, consider longer submissions for “extended Reflections” of up to 1,200 words.


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 one (or two, not more) 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 (about 100 words) of the scene (who, what, where, when), as well as your name, a brief bio note (1-2 sentences), and the type of camera used.


This image-heavy occasional department is where members of the Foreign Service community can share a favorite recent overseas adventure, including illustrative photos, as a reminder of the adventurous parts of FS life, the exciting and unexpected moments that come along when one is immersed in life and work in another country, landscape, and culture. General specifications: Five to seven photos with a short narrative and captions. (See PHOTO SPECIFICATIONS.)


The FSJ’s In Memory department publishes obituaries for members of the Foreign Service and their spouses. It is published in the following editions: January/February, March, May, July/August; September, and November. The obituaries average between 350 and 500 words in length. We do not use photographs. The obituary should be submitted by or on behalf of the family. You may write the obituary yourself or send us the information, and we will draft it. Please include contact information for the family with the submission.

Include date, place, and cause of death; details of the individual’s Foreign Service career (when they joined the Foreign Service, postings, when they 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.

Please submit obituaries and send any inquiries to journal@afsa.org.


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 to 1,400 words) commentaries highlighting the individual’s accomplishments and personal involvement in foreign affairs.


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.

Books must be available for retail sale or pre-sale to the public. Foreign Service authors wishing to have their books considered for the annual roundup are invited to send a copy of the book—a hard copy or digital file—to the FSJ along with an email notification about the book including publication details and promotional materials, to:

journal@afsa.org (subject line: ITOW)

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

A call for submissions and deadline will be announced in the spring of every year. Please address any questions to journal@afsa.org.

FSJ Photo Specifications:

We welcome photos to accompany articles for publication. Please submit photo files and any questions to Managing Editor Kathryn Owens at owens@afsa.org.

Guidelines for authors when submitting images:

  • Submit high-resolution images by email as TIFF, JPG, or PDF files (in order of preference). Attach them as individual files or in a zipped folder. Images will not be accepted if they are embedded in an email or a Word doc (those are generally too small).
  • Ensure images are high resolution, minimum 300 dpi at no less than 5 inches of width (file size 500 KB or higher, preferably). The bigger, the better.
  • Provide a complete set of captions and credits along with the photos.
  • Label files by your last name and the image number and brief description (e.g., Smith_01 – airport, Smith_02 – group shot).
  • Try to avoid submitting scanned photos that contain glare.
  • Please confer with us before you purchase any photos to go with your article.