You are viewing a Web site, archived on 16:22:42 Oct 19, 2004. It is now a Federal record managed by the National Archives and Records Administration.
External links, forms, and search boxes may not function within this collection.
About OVCOJP SealMessage From the DirectorOVC Publishing Guidelines for Print and Web MediaNCJ 205247 / August 2004

Message From the Director

OVC's Publishing Guidelines for Print and Web Media describe the criteria grantees and contractors must follow when submitting materials to OVC to be published. OVC is committed to producing quality products and welcomes this opportunity to help you develop dynamic and useful products that will both inspire and instruct the victims' rights and services community.

You may have noticed an increased number of products released exclusively on the OVC Web site. The Internet has become an increasingly important way to share information, and OVC has accepted the challenge to communicate effectively in this new environment. This guide, which has been expanded to include tips on preparing information for the Web, will help you—the grantee or contractor—develop and organize text and format the information in a way that expedites the publishing process.

As the federal office responsible for meeting the needs and protecting the rights of our Nation's crime victims, we look forward to working with you to produce products that meet or exceed professional standards of excellence.

John W. Gillis
Director, Office for Victims of Crime

Submission Deadlines

120 Days Before Funding Conclusion

At least 120 days before your grant, cooperative agreement, or contract ends, you must submit a final draft of each product or publication to OVC for review. Build the 120-day product review deadline into your grant or contract timeline.

  • Experts in the field and others within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will review and comment on the product during the review period.

  • OVC anticipates returning the draft in 30–90 days, depending on the length and complexity of the document.

  • You should be prepared to incorporate substantive and editorial changes identified through the review into the draft per discussion with your grant monitor.

If you are unable to provide a final draft 120 days before the grant, cooperative agreement, or contract ends, you may request a no-cost extension to the grant or contract period. These extensions are approved on a case-by-case basis, and all requests must contain a substantive reason justifying the delay. If substantive changes to the product are required, no additional funds will be made available.

30 Days Before Funding Conclusion

At least 30 days before your grant ends, you must provide OVC with a final submission package. This package should include all materials required to move forward with publishing.

A submission package must be delivered to your grant monitor 30 days before your grant, cooperative agreement, or contract ends. Properly preparing the package will save valuable time and effort during the publishing process and ensure a more timely final product. Please note that OVC will return submission packages that are incomplete or that do not meet formatting and policy requirements.

Submission Requirements

Package Content

The package should contain these items:

  • One double-spaced printout of the final draft that incorporates the recommended revisions from reviewers.

  • One electronic copy of the final draft.

  • A list of keywords to be used during Web formatting.

  • Written permission to replicate forms, articles, photos, training materials, and so forth as necessary.

  • Captions and "alt" tag information for charts and photos.

  • Two high-resolution copies of any materials not available in electronic format (e.g., tables, charts, forms, illustrations).

  • Copies of all comments from the peer reviewers or pilot-test participants.

  • An executive summary of the publication or product that highlights significant findings.

  • A statement highlighting the significance of the content or its special relevance to the field.

  • A statement about why the proposed final format of the product (Web, print, videotape, CD-ROM, DVD) will be useful in the field.

Charts and Photos

Charts, photos, and other graphic images must be submitted with specific information. These requirements include—

  • "Alt" tags. The Federal Government requires that "alt" (alternative) tags accompany all graphic images on the Web. An "alt" tag is brief text that describes an image when the cursor rolls over it. See Accessibility and 508 Compliance for additional information.

  • Captions. Keep captions brief (approximately 20–25 words) and use keywords as appropriate.

  • Photo credit information. Include the name of the person who took the photo, who owns the photo, and when it was taken.

Submit tables and graphs in separate electronic files because they are often created in specialized software. Also provide printouts of each.

File Setup

Prepare your submission package according to the following guidelines:


Submit electronic files in one of the following formats:

  • PC-formatted 3.5-inch diskette.
  • PC-formatted 100mg Zip™ drive disk.
  • CD-RW.


OVC currently accepts documents in WordPerfect and Microsoft Word. However, OVC is upgrading its computer systems and in the future may only accept Microsoft Word. Please contact your grant monitor with questions about this requirement. Note: OVC cannot read Macintosh word processing applications.

  • If IBM-compatible programs are not available, submit the document in ASCII text format. Please ensure that the electronic file accurately displays headings and breaks between paragraphs.

  • For publications longer than 30 pages, save each section in individual files and name them accordingly (i.e., section 1, section 2, section 3). Do not save a document that exceeds 30 pages as one file.

  • Submit tables and graphs in separate electronic files. Provide printouts of each.


Follow these guidelines to format a draft.

  • Margins. Set 1-inch margins all around (left, right, top, and bottom).

  • Line spacing. Double space text. Triple space between paragraphs.

  • Justification. Left justify the text.

  • Indentation. Use block style. Do not use tabs or indents at the beginning of paragraphs.

  • Hyphenation. Do not hyphenate words at the end of a line.

  • Headings. Use only initial capital letters in headlines. For example: Victim Advocate Wins Nobel Prize.

  • Fonts. Use 12-point Times New Roman for all text. You may use a different point size of the same font to differentiate subhead levels.

  • Page numbering. Use footers to number your pages.

  • Footnotes and endnotes. Endnotes are preferred.

Do not use other formatting tools (i.e., different size text, tabs, columns, and so forth). Text submitted to OVC will be developed into the final product by a graphic designer. Unnecessary formatting in draft text can delay the publishing of your grant product.

Publishing Process

When OVC receives your complete submission package, the OVC can begin the publishing process. Steps include—

Initial Review

OVC may guide the product through an external peer review process after receiving the draft text 120 days before the grant or contract end date. The OVC grant monitor will then return the product—with reviewers' comments—to you for revision. When OVC receives the revised draft, it will submit the product to individuals within the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for review and comment. Based on the extent of these comments, OVC may again return the product to you for additional revision. When OVC receives the final draft with all comments incorporated, it will complete an editorial assessment of the product and estimate the production costs. The OVC director will then provide approval for the publishing and dissemination process to begin.

Editing and Graphic Design

The OVC Publications Unit will perform an initial edit of the product. After the initial edit is completed, and approved by the grant monitor, the product will undergo a quality control review and move forward to design and formatting.

OVC/DOJ Approval

The final formatted version of the product, including all appropriate OVC documentation, will be forwarded through the OVC deputy director, the OVC director, and the Office of the Assistant Attorney General (OAAG) for final review and approval. Once approved, advanced notification of the product's anticipated release date is sent to the U.S. Attorney General.

Dissemination of the Publication

The product's dissemination plan will be reviewed and finalized by the appropriate OVC grant monitor and division director in conjunction with the OVC deputy director and director. As appropriate, the OVC Publications Unit will coordinate the press release process in conjunction with OJP's Office of Communications (OCOM), upload the publication on OVC's Web site, and coordinate any bulk mailings through the OVC Resource Center (OVCRC).

Product Types

Below are the products commonly published by OVC. OVC also produces Web-only, CD-ROM, DVD, and video materials. All materials are available online.

Bulletins provide information about training, promising practices, or findings and questions raised by symposia or focus groups in a short format. The emerging issues they address probably will be covered more thoroughly in reports, monographs, and manuals. (Length: 8–16 print pages.)

Reports document the proceedings of structured focus groups in which practitioners and experts share their knowledge, learn about related efforts, obtain feedback, and generate recommendations for OVC and the field. The reports define the issues under discussion; summarize literature findings; address methodologies used; discuss gaps, promising practices, and approaches; and recommend action for the field and OVC. (Length: 16–60 print pages.)

Monographs provide a full-length presentation of the findings, conclusions, methodology, and other information related to a specific program or project. (Length: 20–200 print pages.)

Training guides contain materials to train victim service professionals in how to enhance their capability to serve crime victims. Training packages may include one or all of the following: participant manuals that describe basic concepts and specific practice-related information; trainer's manuals that include material in the participant manual along with annotated source material, lesson plans and objectives, and notes on audiovisual aides; and training-for-trainers manuals that establish the content in terms of adult learning theory and provide strategies for mentoring trainers new to a given topic. (Length: No more than 200 print pages.)

Brochures provide brief descriptions of programs or special office activity. (Length: 2–6 print pages.)

Handbooks emphasize the practical implementation of victim service tasks, offering service providers and allied professionals specific strategies and actions. (Length: 12–32 pages.)

Promising practices feature technical assistance information drawn from national surveys of model practices or programs. They provide guidance on replicating and adapting elements of model programs to create new programs and refine existing ones. (Length: 24–52 print pages.)

Resource directories offer contact information for agencies and organizations in specific areas of expertise. (Length: Determined by the subject matter.)

E-publications are publications disseminated exclusively on the Web. (Length: Determined by the subject matter.)

Writing for Print

Print publications include handbooks, monographs, bulletins, and fact sheets that are produced in hard copy and distributed from a clearinghouse facility.

Recommended Practices

For the best possible print publication, follow these basic writing guidelines:

  • Know your audience and what you want readers to do when they finish reading the publication. Write based on this goal and the readers' knowledge of the subject.

  • Outline the content before writing to ensure proper organization.

  • Use sidebars to summarize background or ancillary information.

  • Write in a style that is concise and easy to read (i.e., use short words and sentences, bullet lists, and descriptive subheads).

  • Apply a consistent and complete style to references and endnotes/footnotes.

  • Use good grammar and punctuation.

Grammar Tips for Good Writing

Remember: People want information that's short, simple, and to the point. Using the following techniques will make your manuscript a clearer and faster read.

Use the active voice. Active voice uses fewer words and is clearer.

Don't say—

"The rights of victims have gone unrecognized by the criminal justice system for a long time."

Do say—

"The criminal justice system did not recognize victims' rights for a long time."

Use short words. Don't use a long word or phrase when a short one delivers the same message. Examples—

Don't Say

Do Say

in order to
as well as
with the exception of
conduct a survey
make a decision

except for

Writing an E-Pub

Use short sentences. Make your point, then move on. Long sentences with many commas are difficult to read.

Avoid jargon. Steer clear of terminology specific to a field unless the intended audience is only members of the field.

OVC increasingly uses the Web as a publishing tool. This section walks you through the basic principles of creating electronic publications—also called e-pubs or e-only documents—intended for distribution exclusively on the Web.

How To Build a Web-Only Document

Writing for the Web differs from writing for print media, but not so much in the writing itself. The difference lies in how you, as the author, conceive and present the information.

E-pubs require that content be organized compartmentally rather than linearly. That is, the information on any one page must be fully understandable to readers who land on the page without having viewed previous pages in your document.

Rachel McAlpine, author of Web Word Wizardry, explains it this way:

The Web is not like a library of books and magazines. It is like hundreds of millions of separate pages blowing around the streets. People pick up one, then another, then another—and each page can come from a different source. . . . Therefore, the text of every Web page should be self-explanatory and make sense all by itself. 1

Principles of Effective Web Writing

How To Write for the "Scan Reader"

Online audiences tend not to read word for word. Instead, they "scan read" subheads, links, and lists for information that applies specifically to them. Therefore, e-pub authors should—

Lead With the Main Idea

Place the key overall ideas first on each Web page. Then go into detail. Again, explain the most important details first.

This writing style is often called the inverted pyramid. It ensures that no matter where on the page users stop reading, they will have read the most important information.

Use Subheads Frequently

Subheads make text more readable and point readers to specific information. This means subheads should be used often (every 1–3 paragraphs), and they should be more specific than "Introduction" or "Project History." Such generic subheads tell online readers little and encourage them to simply scan over the material. Likewise, subheads that use puns or teasers are ineffective.3

Examples of specific headlines—

  • Crime Victims Demand Compensation
  • Standard Form Streamlines Case Management
  • Effort Targets Schools With High Crime Rates

The most effective subheads provide enough information that reading the section becomes optional. Says McAlpine, "Write headings like newspaper headlines: a summary of what is to come."4

Use Bullet Lists To Itemize Information

Effective bullet lists are brief:

  • Entries are short.
  • The list is limited to no more than 5–6 bullets.
  • Entries are related in some way.
  • Entries briefly describe the type of information that links within them contain (e.g., the Principles of Effective Web Writing).

To shorten a bullet list that is too long—

  • Combine some bullets, if possible.
  • Reorganize the bullets into several lists.

Be Brief—Limit Page Length to One Screen

When possible, limit the content of a page to what can appear on one screen (without scrolling). This is especially important on the document's main pages (e.g., the home page and pages that introduce new sections and concepts).

To write short copy, use short sentences and simple words.

Don't say—

"A survey of victims was conducted by the interdisciplinary team in order to determine the impact that existing programs and services had on them."

Do say—

"The interdisciplinary team surveyed victims to find out how existing services affected them."

Chunking and Linking

If you still have too much copy after shortening sentences, break the text into smaller chunks and use links to direct readers to that information.

Secondary Pages

Secondary pages feature background information that explains concepts introduced on an e-pub's main pages. These pages can be longer than the document's main pages. However, authors should use subheads and bullet lists to make long pages easier to read.

How To Organize Content Through Chunking

"Chunking" is the process of dividing information into small, clear pieces. It is the most difficult part of the Web writing process because it requires deciding which information is important, what information to present, and how to organize it.

Organize Material by Category or Concept

Crawford Killian, author of Writing for the Web, recommends that authors complete a "clustering" exercise to organize information before writing.5 He tells authors to—

Write their ideas about everything that should be covered.

Cluster similar ideas around specific concepts or themes. For example, some information will be clearly introductory, or related to background, findings, or implications.

Use the clusters as the basis for the document's organization.

Avoid Linear or Narrative Organization

Linear and narrative formats—in which information must be presented in a specific order—don't work well online. Remember, each page must be clear to the reader without having read any of the previous pages.

Use Links Appropriately

Incorporating links to background material is an excellent way to chunk information. However, never use an embedded link at the bottom of one page simply to link to the top of the next page (e.g., "Continued on Next Page"). Instead, divide the information into smaller chunks on more pages.

Incorporate Links Into Content

Construct sentences in ways that allow you to link to related information. For example: Subheads help readers navigate a document quickly.

What To Make a Link

  • Background and explanatory information. Removing this information from a main page makes the page shorter and allows readers who are familiar with the material to move more quickly through the document. Readers who want more detail may read it at their discretion.

  • Related concepts. If you mention an idea that is featured in another part of your report, link to it.

  • Footnotes or endnotes.

  • Cross-references to other sections of the document (e.g., "See the Additional Reading list for more information.").

  • Partner agencies. Many authors acknowledge their partners by including their Web addresses (also called URLs) in copy. This is acceptable in online writing with one caveat: These URLs should be placed on a tertiary page such as Acknowledgments. Including a link to a Web site outside your e-pub invites readers to leave the publication—and once they're gone, they're unlikely to return.

How To Label Links

Links are most effective when they are obvious and the user does not have to think about them. Offer easy-to-find text links instead of URL addresses by hyperlinking a word or phrase in a sentence.

Don't say—

For more information about OVC publications, visit the OVC Web site at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc.

Do say—

Visit the OVC Web site for more information about OVC publications.

Avoid Overuse of Links

Don't overuse links. Too many links on a page will distract readers and make the page more difficult to understand. If you find yourself in this situation, rethink how you are chunking information onto individual pages.

Develop Keywords for Search Purposes

Effective keywords—that is, the terms and phrases in HTML code that describe an e-pub's content—help Web users find your publication using search engines like Google™ or Yahoo®.

How To Choose the Best Words

Step 1—Brainstorm a List

Write down words and phrases that describe the content and purpose of your document. Include search terms that your target audience might use to find this type of information and, if possible, keywords used on similar publications and Web pages.

Step 2—Refine the Entries

  • Eliminate entries that are too general (e.g., electronic publication, document, online, Web, Internet, OVC).

  • Eliminate repetitive entries and entries that repeat the same word too often.

  • Combine single words into phrases when possible (e.g., sexual assault victim services).

Step 3—Prioritize the List

The first keyword or phrase should be the most descriptive, and so on down the list. Limit the list to the 20 most descriptive keywords or phrases.

Because the Government Printing Office Style Manual does not specifically address bibliography and reference citation style, the OVC Publications Unit developed guidelines based on the Chicago Manual of Style. Samples include—

Note: If necessary, you may use a different style for references and notes. However, you must ensure that citations are consistent and include the following information: author; title of article; title of publication; volume number, month, and year of publication if taken from a journal; place of publication; publisher; year of publication only if a book; and page numbers, if appropriate. It is imperative that complete and accurate citations are provided. Incomplete information will delay the publication of your product.

Formatting References/Endnotes

Reference Style

Please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for situations not listed here.

General Format for Books

Author (last name, first name). Date of publication. Title in Italics. City and state of publication: publisher.

Jones, John. 1992. History of Criminology. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

General Format for Periodicals

Author (last name, first name). Date of publication. "Title of Article." Title of Periodical in Italics volume number(issue number): page number.

Jones, John. June 1992. "Crime in the Community." Journal of Crime 10(3): 3-12.

General Format for OVC and Other Government Series

Author (last name, first name). Date of publication. Title of Publication in Italics. Title of Series in Initial Caps, volume and issue number (if applicable). City and state of publication: publisher.

Visher, Christy A. September 1992. Pretrial Drug Testing. Research in Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.

Office for Victims of Crime. August 1998. New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Note: Do not name the Government Printing Office as a publisher.

Author Issues

Multiple Authors

List the first author's last name first, but list the other authors first name first.

Hillsman, Sally T. and Laura A. Winterfield.

No Authors

Place the editors' names in the author slot if no authors are identified.

Flannegan, T.J. and K.M. Jamieson, eds.

If an agency or institution is both the author and publisher, use the agency name as the author and any umbrella institution as the publisher.

Office for Victims of Crime. August 1998. New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Special Situations

Chapters in a Book

Citations of chapters also must include names of authors and editors.

Author (last name, first name). Date of publication. "Title of Chapter in Quotation Marks and Initial Caps." In Title of Publication, by or ed. (author or editor's name beginning with first name). City and state of publication: Publisher.

Robert Smith. 1990. "Crime and the Cities." In A Review of Criminal Justice, eds. Ellen Tomes and Edward Bock. New York: Wiley.

Unpublished Manuscripts

Treat unpublished material as though it were an article in a periodical, with the title of the document in quotation marks.

Brown, William. 1992. "Intermediate Sanctions." Unpublished report. National Institute of Justice, CX-000-000.

Note: Always provide the grant number when citing a Federal Government source.

No Date Provided

Brown, William. n.d. "Intermediate Sanctions." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.

Web Site References

Provide the author's name (last name, first name) if available. "The Title of the Document" and title of the full work, if applicable. Name of the organization that placed it on the Web. Web site URL. Accessed date (provide date material was gathered).

Volunteer Center of Marin. "A Guide to Organizing Neighborhoods for Preparedness, Response, and Recovery." American Red Cross, www.sff.org/about/publications/emergency_plan.doc. Accessed March 3, 2004.

Endnotes Style

Please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for situations not listed here.

General Format for Books

Author (first name, last name), Date of publication, Title in Italics, City and state of publication: publisher, page number.

John Jones, 1986, History of Criminology, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 10.

General Format for Periodicals

Author (first name, last name), Date of publication, "Title of Article," Title of Periodical in Italics volume number(issue no.): page number.

John Jones, 1992, "Crime in the Community," Journal of Crime 10(June): 3–4.

General Format for OVC and Other Government Series

Author (last name, first name), Date of publication, Title of Publication in Italics, Title of Series in Initial Caps, volume and issue number (if applicable), City and state of publication: publisher, page number.

Christy A. Visher, September 1992, Pretrial Drug Testing, Research in Brief, Washington, DC : U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 12.

Office for Victims of Crime, New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 21.

Special Situations

Chapters in a Book

Citations of chapters must also include names of authors and editors.

Author (last name, first name), Date of publication, "Title of Chapter in Quotation Marks and Initial Caps," In Title of Publication, by or ed. (author or editor's name beginning with first name), City and state of publication: publisher, page number.

Robert Smith, 1990, "Crime and the Cities," in A Review of Criminal Justice, eds. Ellen Tomes and Edward Bock ( New York: Wiley), 25–30.

Several References in One Footnote

Separate references using semicolons. If the items have been previously cited, state them together as follows: See Jones, "Crime," 3; Miller, "Jails," 5; and Thomas, Prisons, 6.

Repeating a Citation

In endnotes, if you want to cite the same source that was cited just before the present one, use "Ibid." followed by a comma and a page number.

Ibid., 3.

Web Site Citations

Provide the author's name (last name, first name) if available, "The Title of the Document" and title of the full work, if applicable, Name of the organization that placed it on the Web, Web site URL, accessed date (provide date material was gathered).

Volunteer Center of Marin, "A Guide to Organizing Neighborhoods for Preparedness, Response, and Recovery," American Red Cross, www.sff.org/about/publications/emergency_plan.doc, accessed March 3, 2004.

OVC requests that authors abide by the following usage standards:

Copyright & Policy Requirements

Copyright Policy6

Material protected by copyright. Material protected by copyright may not be reproduced without written consent from the copyright holder, with the exception of material for which OJP/OVC has a license. The copyright holder must specify how notice of copyright should be incorporated in text, captions, footnotes, citations, or legends.

Contractor or grantee acquisition of license. The grantee or contractor is responsible for acquiring the right to include copyrighted material in U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) publications that are compiled, written, or prepared under contract or grant. This includes paying required fees.

Copyrighted material compiled, written, or prepared under contract or grant. For any publication developed or purchased under an OVC grant, subgrant, or contract, OVC receives a license to use, and authorize others to use, the copyrighted material for government purposes.

Accessibility and 508 Compliance

The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 require that electronic data and information technology provided by the Federal Government be accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 of the Act, which focuses on information disseminated through the Web, requires that "alt" (alternative) text be supplied with all graphics. These brief descriptions of graphic elements (20 words or fewer) allow visually impaired people who use special text-reading software or people who view the site without graphics to understand what the images convey. OVC complies with this and all standards of section 508.

Use of OVC Logo

The OVC logo is the exclusive property of the Office for Victims Crime. OVC must grant permission for outside use or reproduction. Please contact your grant monitor or contracting officer's technical representative for more information.

Use of Product Numbers and Barcodes

OVC uses barcoding to maintain and track its inventory of published products. Every item received into inventory will be assigned a product number that will be printed in barcode format on the document.


This document was last updated on September 10, 2004