Museum Trade Writing
Have you ever found yourself thinking:
- Wow that was a great trick!
- I’ll never do that again.
- I’ll have to remember the sequence of that process.
- Don’t they realize how much work goes into that!
- Man I Iove that vendor, material, or technique…
Then you’re in the right place. On the Trade Yours page you can write about your successes and failures or simply make notes for the future you and share them with the MuseumTrade community. The following is a list of loose guidelines to help you with your submission. We have editors standing by to help you polish out the copy, but just for the obvious stuff, we won’t touch your style unless you ask us to. We’re not stern, we’re not going to hold you to professional journal submission standards, but some of you have asked for parameters or guiding thoughts for article submissions. In an ideal world all articles, even case studies, would be organized around a thesis (premise) and set in a context to explain the problem or issue that your article addresses. Historical background and discussion of how others in the field have addressed the issues will add value.
THE PARTS NOT TO FORGET (the basics)
- Title: Well of course. If you have the mental bandwidth think of something catchy and clever that will get someone to click on it. This is not to suggest that you write a “click-bait” title and trick others into clicking, no one likes that, your title should capture the essence of what you’re trying to tell everyone, but free to have fun with it as well. Some find it helpful to revisit the title after writing the body of the article.
- Category: This will allow the site to automatically file your article under the right major headings. You should try to choose both the museum type and the activity happening at that museum. For example, an article about signage at the Parktown Zoo would have the “zoo” and “de/installation” categories.
- Tags: Important when this article gets thrown into the hopper. Tags will help your article stick to other similar articles and will show up more reliably for visitors. Examples of tags used thus far would include “muslin”, “gear”, “puzzle”, “framing”… you get the idea. Try to think of 3-6 good tags if you can.
- Institution: This is not a required field, but is quite interesting for people to know. It gives all of us context for the story.
STYLE (the finer points)
- Section headings: Short form articles are very welcome, but if you want to go big divide text into sections with section headings that communicate the key idea of the section. Avoid headings like “Introduction,” “Findings,” and “Conclusion.” Instead, create headings that communicate your section’s main point (newspaper style).
- Referencing people in the text: Provide full names and a description when you reference a person in your text. MuseumTrade readers work in many different fields and don’t always share the same knowledge of references. (Example: Developmental psychologist Jean Piaget stated…)
- Quotation marks: Always use double quotation marks when quoting something in the text, whether a single word or a sentence. (Example: The word “museum” carries many connotations.) The only time to use single quotation marks is when a quote is embedded in another quote. (Example: In her talk, Cynthia said, “The word ‘museum’ carries many connotations.”)
- Punctuation: Place a sentence’s punctuation (comma, period, exclamation point) inside the closing quotation mark. (Example: Cynthia Robinson, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Museum education, wrote, “Authors must place closing quotation marks outside the punctuation.”)
- Capitalization: Capitalize the first letter of “museum” and “gallery” only when the word appears in a museum’s complete title. (Example: Cynthia Robinson once worked at the National Heritage Museum. While still at the museum, she started teaching at Tufts University.) Capitalize a job title when it refers to a specific person but not when used in a general sense or as a category. (Example: Cynthia Robinson, Program Director, works closely with other directors…)
- Exhibition titles: Put exhibition titles in italics.
- Voice: Use active sentence construction, not the passive voice. Feel free to write in the first person narrative voice.
These are the finer point see strive for, we WILL miss some of this stuff so if you see it wrong somewhere on the site, feel free to shoot us an email to let us know.
We will assume that images you provide are attributed to you. Should you use images from elsewhere they should be accompanied by a citation, it might look something like this:
In italics – Photo by (Last name of photographer), year
Like this: Photo by Engin Akyurt, date unknown
(the creator of the image in the header btw)
Finer points: Maybe you want to cite more about the image, you can cover your bases by including the following:
- author (if available)
- year produced (if available)
- title of image (or a description)
- Format and any details (if applicable)
- name and place of the sponsor of the source.
- accessed day month year (the date you viewed/ downloaded the image)
- URL or Internet address (between pointed brackets)
That’s it, for now. We’ll open up the comment section below so you can help us refine this section. Did we miss something? Does something need more clarification? Tell us, thanks!