Lave Tube Vertical Entrance 📷 Dave Bunnell
Lave Tube Vertical Entrance 📷 Dave Bunnell

NSS News

Submission Guidelines


Material may be submitted to the News in virtually any digital form. No handwritten copy, please, except for brief announcements, short letters, or calendar items. Text may be submitted via email (to as either an ASCII (unformatted text) file in the body of the message or as an attachment in its native word processor format, which is preferable. Please put an extra return between paragraphs in material submitted in the body of an email message. This is not necessary for word processor files sent as attachments, which are preferred for longer features as it preserves attributes such as bolding and italics. Microsoft Word is the preferred format (.doc or .rtf). Please do not embed your photos in your document file, as the program shrinks them and renders them useless. Instead, submit them as separate attachments. When composing your files please do not put two spaces after periods, or extra spaces or tabs to create indents (see style sheet below).


Some folks do some pre-processing on their photos in advance, but this isn't necessary as I have to modify each and every photo used in Photoshop, to try to make it reproduce as best as possible in a print medium. As a minimum, I convert to CMYK color and sharpen the black plate but often make significant changes to try and bring out more detail in highlight or shadow areas. How well this works depends on the quality of the digital capture. Please submit all your materials in color if available.

Please send images as attachments when emailing, rather than in the body of an e-mail. Also, please don't send me photos embedded in a Word or PDF file!! Word, especially, reduces their size and renders them too small for print.

You can attach about 20 MB to an email to me with no problems (on my end at least; your ISP may have limitations). If you have a lot of images, split them across emails, or better yet, use a cloud service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. We are partial to WeTransfer, a free web-based service that lets you send a group of files of up to 2 gigabytes to anyone. No login or account creation is required. Upload them there giving my email address as a reference: The service will automatically send a notification and download link to my address and a confirmation to you when I have downloaded it. Using a cloud service is much better than getting ten emails of photos.

Images should be submitted in TIF or JPEG formats. I use 300 ppi (pixels per inch) as the resolution for the press, which means that a digital photo must be at least 700 pixels wide to print the width of a news column (2.33" x 300 p.p.i = 700). I often run vertical images at one column width, but horizontals often run 1.5 to 2 columns, so 1500 pixels wide is a better size for horizontal images. Note that images are displayed on your monitor at 72 ppi, so an image will print at roughly a quarter of that size on the press. When in doubt just send the image in the full size that your camera captured it. For a half-page photo such as on the back cover or inside color galleries, 2700 pixels would be a minimum to allow a full bleed off the page. Larger image submissions give more flexibility for how the image can be printed, so if you send me tiny images I can only run them small. If you have the bandwidth, I prefer full-sized images to work with.

Along with your photos, please submit suggestions for captions and photo credit for each image. If there is someone recognizable in the image, please say who is in it as part of the caption. Captions can be provided via a text document with a list of filenames and captions. Some folks also rename their files with their caption. The most elegant technique is to use the EXIF area of a file to store information. You can do this in many ways, but is simplest on Windows systems, when in file manager. For individual files, you just select it and fill in these two recommended fields, authors for the photographers and title, or comments for the caption. Be sure to hit the save button after making one of these edits. You can also select a group, right-click, and from the menu choose "properties" and "details" and then make your edits in the dialog to apply across a number of photos. You could do this to assign authorship to a batch of photos, and then use the individual technique to make a unique caption for each in the title field. Other software that lets you edit the EXIF is found in Adobe Bridge

These days most submissions are already digital, but I can also scan original slides or negatives, or prints. Please put your name on each of your slides or prints, and a number that corresponds to a caption list that you'll want to provide (or else, write the caption directly on the print or slide mount).

Please package photos securely between stiff cardboard, and indicate whether you want your prints or slides returned. I'll always assume this about original slides or negatives, but submissions of three or fewer small prints will not be returned unless specifically requested. The cost of returning a few small machine prints may be more than the cost of producing them, and return postage costs the Society money. Including an addressed return envelope, either stamped or unstamped guarantees a speedier return.

Most photos are sent as part of articles, but we also accept random photo and art submissions. Photos that will run on their own in the "Member's Gallery" are held to somewhat higher standards than those accompanying articles. They should be well-exposed, sharply focused, well-composed, and with a general appeal to cavers. If you have a group of nice photos and want to be considered for a "Photographers Spotlight" let me know. Often it is good to look at low rez images first and then have me request ones for printing.

Maps and Line Art

PDF is the best format for submitting line art or maps as it allows the best scalability. Most vector drawing packages allow conversion to PDF. Select "print optimized" or "high quality" instead of "screen resolution" when you make them. Also, make sure the fonts are embedded when making a PDF. Color art should be converted to CMYK.

Note about black text on color maps: black type on maps should be 100% black only, rather than CMYK. As a general rule, black type should be 100% black and nothing else if your map is in CMYK format.


Materials may be submitted on CD-ROMs, DVDs, memory cards, or USB thumbdrives. Unless specifically requested, media will not be returned (to keep our mailing costs down.) But most people will find it easier to email material and use cloud storage services to submit larger numbers of photos.

Style Sheet

Please adhere to as much of this as you can, as it makes the editor's job far easier! Some of the suggestions only matter if you are sending the article in word processor format (preferred), as opposed to just copied into an email.


  • a.m., p.m. (lower case only)
  • USA (no periods)
  • TAG, NSS (no periods)
  • don't abbreviate units of measure, whether English or metric or use ' or " for feet or inches; i.e., feet rather than ft.
  • don't abbreviate state or country names

Formatting & Grammar:

  • Use single, not double space, after periods.
  • Don't use tabs or spaces to create indents - I just have to take them out! Use formatting in your word processor to create the indents, or space between paragraphs if you want.. In e-mailed articles, it's best to put an extra space between paragraphs.
  • NSS organizations (e.g., the Digging Section) are capitalized.
  • Compass directions, such as southern, northern, etc., are not capitalized
  • Books, periodical titles, and other publications should be in italics. Example: NSS News. Article titles (in the body of an article) should be in quotes.
  • Words in a foreign language are italicized, but not names of cities or people.
  • Emphasis: use italics, not bold, capitals or underlines.
  • Use a comma before "and" or "or" in a series. Example: I explored the cave with Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice.
  • it's: only used for contraction (it is) and NOT for possessive (e.g., "the cave had lost its appeal to me...")
  • Don't make possessives out of plurals, especially dates which is a common one: "the cave was explored in the 60s" is proper but not "the cave was explored in the 60's"
  • Another common issue: “your” is a possessive and so is “their”; you’re is a contraction of you are, and same with they’re. “You’re looking into your pack.” They’re eating their lunch.


  • Use "email," not E-mail or e-mail
  • website: one word, not capitalized.
  • Now that we are putting active links in our online version, authors are encouraged to make active hyperlinks in Word documents.
  • Consider shortening really long URLs in text using a program like


  • One through nine should be written out when whole numbers, but if you have a fractional number under ten, use numerals: 6 1/2 or 6.5.
  • Exception to above: PLEASE USE NUMERALS FOR ALL DIMENSIONS (passage widths, heights, pit depths, etc.).
  • For numbers 10 or over in text, use numerals (e.g., there were 25 of us on the trip).
  • Two-thirds of the supplies (spell out fractions in descriptions).
  • 1/4-inch bolt (use numeric fractions for measurements).
  • 1980s (no apostrophe unless you are truly making a possessive rather than a plural).
  • 12 to 15 feet (not 12-15 feet).
  • 350-foot pit (use a hyphen when the number is part of a compound adjective).
  • Dimensions are compound adjectives before the noun but not after:  three 25-foot-deep pits, but three pits over 25 feet deep.

Calendar Section:

  • Please use this format: date first, name of event, brief description, contact info. Please avoid lengthy descriptions.
  • Contact info should include, in this order: address, phone, e-mail, web address.
  • Don't need to use the word "e-mail:" or "web address" when giving these addresses.

Preferred spelling for terms used a lot by cavers:

  • Ridgewalk, borehole (one word, no hyphens).
  • Convention (capitalized).
  • Grottos are cave clubs, grottoes are shelter caves.
  • Rappel, rappelled, rappelling (commonly misspelled).
  • Led (past tense and past participle of the verb "lead"). “She leads the trip; she led the trip.”
  • Climb-up, climb-down, down-climb, pull-down trip, through-trip.
  • Handhold, foothold, handline (single words).
  • Archaeology, note the "ae"...
  • Wetsuit, airflow, rerig: one word.
  • Underground, aboveground (single words).
  • Downstream, upstream (single words).
  • Freshwater, saltwater (single words as adjectives).
  • Prusik (capitalized, since a proper name; but prusiking as a verb is not capitalized.
  • Helictite, not helectite.

Book Review Bibliographic Info should ideally include:

  • Title or What-it-is-if-it-isn't-a-book,
  • Author,
  • Editor,
  • Publisher,
  • Year,
  • Number of pages,
  • Type of binding (hard or soft, perfect-bound or stapled),
  • Dimensions (e.g., 8.5"x11"),
  • ISBN.
  • Where-to-get-it, price.