Guidelines for Authors

Welcome to the University of Massachusetts Press guidelines for authors. With offices in Amherst and Boston, our in-house team comprises eight people, covering all aspects of the publication process—from acquisitions, editing, and production to publicity, marketing, and sales. In both print and digital formats, we publish a number of scholarly series, interdisciplinary scholarly works in the humanities and social sciences, and a wide range of titles for general readers, including books in our Bright Leaf imprint, and the winners of our Juniper prizes. Our publishing program reflects the diversity of intellectual and creative life on our campuses, and the University Press Committee vets and approves all of our titles. We have prepared the guidelines below to support you as you make your way through the publication process. Please consult these guidelines at each stage. Each topic is a link that will take you to the full guidelines for that particular issue.

If you are interested in proposing a project to us, please consult the Proposal Submission Guidelines. 

If our guidelines do not answer your question, you may contact us. Please consult our staff directory to ascertain where and how to direct your questions. 

Proposal Submission Guidelines
Peer Review Process
Funding Considerations
Manuscript Preparation Guidelines
Art Guidelines

Proposal Submission Guidelines

The University of Massachusetts Press publishes scholarly books and serious nonfiction by both established and new authors. Through our Bright Leaf imprint, we also publish regional titles aimed at general readers. Our editors actively encourage the submission of book proposals and make a point of responding promptly to inquiries. We seek vigorously argued and well-written scholarly projects that advance debate within fields of academic inquiry. In searching for books for general readers, we are most interested in accessible and readable books that inform and entertain. We publish forty to fifty titles per year, and each must contribute to the University’s mission “to conduct programs of research and public service that advance knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.”

Before submitting a proposal, please consider whether or not your manuscript fits our publishing program by reviewing our subject list, our series list, and our new books for the areas in which we specialize. If you are uncertain, you may send an initial inquiry via e-mail to an editor, but please make it brief and do not include long attachments. Please note that we consider fiction and poetry only through our annual Juniper Literary Prizes. We do not publish Festschriften, conference proceedings, or unrevised doctoral dissertations. We occasionally publish edited collections of essays if they are timely and cohesive. We prefer collections that are original (few if any previously published contributions) and provide an overview of an emerging or rapidly changing scholarly field or that capture timely ideas. If submitting a proposal for an essay collection, please include brief bios of all contributors.

When submitting a full proposal, be sure to include the following:

(1) a cover letter with a concise description of the book (250 to 400 words), including the working title, your arguments, main topics, and themes and goals

(2) a table of contents and one-paragraph description for each chapter

(3) the approximate length of the manuscript, measured in words

(4) examples or descriptions of any artwork, including the total number of illustrations proposed (there is no need to send originals at this stage) as well as estimated numbers of maps, figures, and graphs

(5) your sense of the potential audience(s) for the work

(6) comparable and competing books and how your book differs and/or adds to existing works, whether in coverage, approach, or style

(7) your timetable for completing the manuscript if it is not already completed

(8) a CV or résumé

(9) consideration of possible funding sources or “subventions” for the book (see Funding Considerations for more information)

(10) if available, please provide a sample chapter and the introduction (if it is well drafted).

Please send your proposal materials to Matt Becker or Brian Halley but not to both. If one editor thinks a project is better suited to another, it will be forwarded. If you are submitting this project to more than one publisher, please say so. Do not submit your complete manuscript unless invited to do so by an editor.

If you would like your manuscript to be considered for inclusion in one of our series, please inform the acquisitions editor. Books included in series must be approved by the series editors. You can find a list of our series and series editors here. Please note that we are no longer accepting new titles in the following series: The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought; Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture.

Peer Review Process

Each title published by the University of Massachusetts Press must pass through the process of peer review and be approved by the University Press Committee. Acquisitions editors select the projects to review, and they guide manuscripts and authors through the entire process.

Our acquisitions editors require a proposal for any project submitted for consideration. (Please see our proposal guidelines.) The cover letter accompanying the proposal should indicate if the manuscript is available or ready to be reviewed. The editor may request sample chapters or the entire manuscript, ideally as a single document with consistent pagination. Authors may submit proposals with sample chapters for simultaneous consideration by multiple publishers; however, when we send a complete manuscript out for review, we prefer to have exclusive consideration for  at least for three months.

Our acquisitions editors carefully review all proposals and manuscripts submitted to the Press. If the preliminary review indicates that a work is not appropriate for our list, the editor will inform the author. For a proposal and sample chapters, the editor will provide feedback, and may or may not seek reviews from scholars.

If the editor determines the full manuscript is promising, it will be sent to two or more outside experts for evaluation. Reviewers typically offer helpful suggestions for improvement and recommend for or against publication. Sometimes they recommend acceptance contingent upon particular revisions. In light of the reviews and the editor’s feedback, the author composes a letter or response that describes the plan for the revision and the likely completion date of the project.

The editor decides whether to present a project for the Press Committee’s final approval. The Committee meets two or three times each year, and they consider manuscripts based upon the editors’ assessment, the peer reviews, and the author’s letter of response. Acquisitions editors will share the Committee’s feedback with the author. All publications must be approved by the University Press Committee.

The peer review process can be time-consuming, since the scholars the Press consults have many demands on their time, but we try to move expeditiously. It usually takes three to four months to complete the review process, and final approval by the Press Committee will add six to twelve more weeks to the process.


According to our contracts, authors are responsible for securing all permissions to reprint all textual and visual material owned by others, including your own previously published work to which you do not hold copyright. Authors are also responsible for all permissions fees. Please talk with your editor before you make any payments. 

We seek the most expansive rights—nonexclusive worldwide rights for all media, including electronic—with no or few restrictions (e.g. permission granted for only the first printing, only for two years). We prefer rightsholders sign these permission forms; however, many rightsholders will have their own. Please talk with your editor before you sign any form.

Permissions may be needed for any quoted material, and rightsholders are particularly concerned with poetry and lyrics. Permissions are also needed for all illustrations. Please make certain to inform your editor about any material that might need permission to reprint. We strongly suggest that you read The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, chapter 4, “Rights, Permissions, and Copyright Administration,” particularly sections 4.72–4.105 (“The Author’s Responsibilities”), which give information on the principles of copyright, the doctrine of “fair use,” and requesting permissions, including a sample letter.

Permissions Log

When you submit your final manuscript to your editor, we ask that you send along a permissions log, an Excel spreadsheet documenting your text and art permissions. The log will list each item along with pertinent information about the type of permission, rights acquired, and necessary credit lines. Use this sample permissions log as a template. Please contact your editor if you have any questions.

Funding Considerations

The University of Massachusetts Press seeks monetary support or “subventions” from established grant programs to help with the publication of books—particularly scholarly books—and encourages authors to help identify other sources, such as specialized foundations, programs within their home institutions, and government departments with special interest in the area of their research.

Our contracts detail the costs authors are required to cover. To summarize, author’s responsibilities include the costs of all permissions fees, for both textual and visual materials, the costs of all maps, and the costs of indexing.

There may be further cost considerations depending on the number of images in a book or the complexity of any given project.

Please discuss funding with your editor.

Manuscript Preparation Guidelines

When you have completed all revisions agreed upon by you and your editor, you will be ready to turn your manuscript over to the Editorial, Design, and Production (EDP) Department. As you revise and prepare your final manuscript, please review the items below to make sure your manuscript is EDP-ready. Your effort and attention to these details will ensure the timely publication of your book. Once you believe you have formatted the manuscript (including notes) correctly, please send it along to your acquisitions editor for a formatting review.

Manuscript Formatting and Submission
  1. All parts of the manuscript should be complete when submitted. This means all files are included, all revisions have been made, and all text and art permissions have been acquired.
  2. All text files must be created in Microsoft Word. If you have been working in another program, such as WordPerfect, Pages, or Google Drive, please let us know in advance so that we can check for compatibility. If you are a volume editor, make sure that all of your contributors submit their essays in Word or have the files converted. (Please also make sure that your contributors follow the rest of these guidelines.)
  3. Section headers and chapter titles/subtitles should be typed headline style. Use a colon to separate subtitles from titles.
  4. Indicate new paragraphs with a single tab indent. Please don’t insert an extra line space between paragraphs unless you would like to include a section break without a subhead. To insert a section break without a subhead, insert <SPACE> on a separate line. (Use of ornaments for this purpose is the designer’s prerogative.)
  5. Indicate heading levels with tags: <A> for first-level headings, <B> for second-level headings, <C> for third-level headings. Please do not apply Word styles or use different fonts, etc.
  6. Indent all block extracts by resetting the left margin. Please don’t add extra line spaces to set off the extracts or use tabs and returns to indent each line. Shorter quotations (generally 100 words or less) are run into the text. Type poetry with line breaks as they occur in the original poem; if special formatting is required, please provide a scan of the original poem with the manuscript.
  7. Avoid auto-formatting lists. Enter numbers or bullets manually rather than using the automated list creators that Word employs. If Word automatically begins to format your list, a box with a lightning bolt will appear. Click this, and select “Stop Automatically Creating List.” Please also note that lists created with bullets may ultimately be designed without them.
  8. Use callouts to indicate art/table placement in the manuscript. Please do not embed images or tables in your manuscript file; instead, write <insert figure 1 here> or <insert table 1> on a separate line. See the art guidelines for further instructions.
  9. Use Word’s Insert Endnote command to insert endnotes. Use Arabic numbers for note callouts. Epigraphs do not require endnotes; instead, give a brief source citation at the end of the quotation. See Notes and Bibliographies below for further instructions.
  10. Please consult our house style sheet to make sure your manuscript conforms to our house preferences. Generally, we follow Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, and The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
Notes and Bibliographies

We generally prefer that full bibliographic information is given in the notes rather than include a bibliography in the book. (Please consult with your acquiring editor if you believe a bibliography is a critical element of your work.) We set notes as endnotes at the end of the book, with running heads that give the span of pages covered by the notes. (In edited collections, they appear at the end of each essay.)

Use Word’s Insert Endnote command to insert linked endnotes. This enables the automatic renumbering of notes if one is added or deleted later on. Place the cursor for the inserting note at the end of sentences (after the period), and type each entry as a single paragraph (no extra line spaces), combining endnotes when there is more than one citation per sentence.

For the first mention of a source in each chapter, please make sure to use the full citation information. Afterward, feel free to use shortened citation form, which you can find in our house style sheet, along with a few of the most commonly used citation styles. For citation style, the Press follows The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

Please note: If you have used a bibliographic software program, such as EndNotes, ProCite, or Reference Manager, you need to strip out the embedded fields these programs place in your documents by running a command that removes hidden field codes and turns the entries into plain, unlinked text. For specific directions, consult the help file or user’s manual associated with your particular program.


According to your contract, you are responsible for creating or hiring someone to create your index (along with securing any permissions and cartography). Indexes are created from page proofs, in a four-week span that occurs simultaneously with your page review. If you would like to hire a professional indexer, we will provide you with a list of recommendations.

Art Guidelines

As you revise and prepare the text of your final manuscript, you’ll also need to make sure any art is ready to turn over to the Editorial, Design, and Production (EDP) Department. Confirming that your art follows the specifications below prior to submission will ensure the timely publication of your book.


Please consult your acquisitions editor first if you wish to include illustrations in your book. As the author, you are responsible for securing all permissions and paying all permissions fees; all permissions must be in hand before we can proceed to production with the manuscript.

Create a separate, single document of illustration captions, including source credit lines. Make sure that credit lines are given exactly as stipulated by the grantor of permission to reproduce the illustration.

Like tables, illustrations should carry parenthetical in-text references “figure 1” and have callouts “<figure 1 near here>” to indicate placement.

PLEASE NOTE: We cannot use graphics created in Word and embedded in the text. Do not embed images in your manuscript file.


Tables should be created with Word’s Table feature in a single, separate document rather than integrating them into chapter text. If you create a table as a text file, keep the formatting very simple; do not use boxes, shading, or other effects, and avoid snaking columns and nested cells.

Tables are separate elements and carry their own source credits and notes; table notes must not be included within the sequence of text notes.

Number tables sequentially throughout the text, except in edited volumes, where they should be numbered by chapter (e.g., table 1.1). Give the table a title that fully and clearly explains what it’s about.

Tables should carry parenthetical in-text references: “(table 1)” or “(see table 1).” In addition, please insert “callouts” to indicate placement: “<table 1 near here>” and provide a list of manuscript pages where tables fall.

Guidelines for Submitting Art

Submit all art on a separate disk or upload via DropBox, GoogleDocs, FileTransfer, or Box. If necessary, it is acceptable to send files on a USB flash drive. Please contact the EDP Manager, Sally Nichols for details on uploading files or sending a flash drive. However you provide files, please label the files or prints sequentially, such as “Fig.1.1-Author Last Name,” matching the callouts within the text.

Visual materials may be submitted in the following formats:

  • reflective art (i.e., photographs, printed pages from magazines/books)
  • transparencies (i.e., 35mm slides, 4×5 transparencies, negative film)
  • digital image files (TIFF, JPEG, EPS, PDF); see the Digital Art Guidelines immediately following for more details
  • PLEASE NOTE: The following is a list of unacceptable art formats:
    • Photocopies    
    • Scans of photocopies
    • Screenshots
    • Laser print copies

Art submitted in these formats will be rejected.

If you plan to submit some—or all—of your illustrations in digital format, please follow the specifications below to avoid unnecessary delays in the editing, design, and typesetting of your book.

  • Art created with, or embedded within, MS Word, WordPerfect, or PowerPoint will not be accepted.
  • Images copied from web pages or screenshots will not reproduce in print and will not be accepted. See if the website has a special link to download “high resolution” images or contact information to acquire the same.
  • As a general rule an image file whose size is less than 500K is too low in resolution and will not be accepted.
  • Image files in GIG, PNG, and BMP formats are not print worthy files; they are only created for web-based visuals.
  • PLEASE NOTE: do not “resample” substandard resolution files to a higher resolution via an application such as Photoshop. 

Reproduction Quality Digital Art Specifications

Providing digital art that meets to following criteria will contribute to a smoother workflow and result in better looking illustrations.

  • Resolution: Digital files must have a minimum resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch = pixels per inch) at their dimension of reproduction. For example, a full-page illustration measuring 5×8 inches would need to have a minimum pixel dimension of 1500×2400 pixels. Image files that originate at a low size and resolution and are subsequently “upsampled” to a higher resolution do not gain one iota in clarity. Keep in mind that these parameters only function for images being reproduced at original dimension or smaller. Images that require enlargement of a detail area must have a proportionally greater starting resolution to allow this (usually 600–1200 dpi).
  • Mode: Grayscale preferred; RGB or CMYK is acceptable.
  • Format: TIFF or JPEG (saved at maximum quality setting)
  • Charts/Graphs/Maps: In order to reproduce clean, crisp lines and typography, these items must be provided in one of the following formats: PDF, EPS, or hi-resolution TIFF (1200 dpi or greater). We also recommend such graphics such be created in an object-oriented drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator. Graphics created in Word or Excel usually yield poor or unusable results.


The University of Massachusetts Press looks forward to collaborating with you on the promotion of your book. We have found that our efforts are most successful when we work in tandem with our authors to leverage our connections and networks. As we begin the production process, we will send authors our marketing questionnaire to solicit specific information and recommendations.

We will create a tailored marketing plan for your book and the Press will:

  • feature your book in our seasonal catalog, which is distributed to hundreds of booksellers, librarians, and reviewers
  • work with a network of national and international sales representatives, who call on booksellers, wholesalers, and Internet retailers
  • develop a targeted review list for your book and submit review copies to appropriate mainstream and scholarly venues
  • notify alumni magazines, campus news outlets, hometown newspapers, and scholarly associations of publication
  • create a dedicated web page for your book on our site
  • exhibit copies of your book at relevant academic meetings and conferences
  • advertise selectively in journals and conference programs
  • distribute examination copies to professors and instructors for potential classroom adoption
  • submit titles to award competitions, in consultation with the author
Author Orders

Beyond the contractual gratis copies, all authors who publish with us are entitled to purchase copies of their book at a 40 percent discount. Prepayment is required on all orders, and orders can be placed through the Chicago Distribution Center at 1-800-621-2736.