Posted by: nancyisanders | September 24, 2013

Highlights: Check-off List

I’ve been busy this week working on my nonfiction article to submit to Highlights and I hope you are too! I’m getting ready to put pen to paper soon.

First I sat down and read over the Contributor’s Guidelines again to have them fresh in my head as I’m getting ready to write.

Then I copied and pasted the guidelines for Non Fiction into my Word document so I could have a check-off list to work with.

Then I added notes to my check-off list to remind myself what to do. Then I printed this all out and clipped it to my clipboard so it stays front and center.

Here are some of the notes I wrote to myself:

Highlights Check-off List
Non Fiction includes science, arts, biography, autobiography, sports, world cultures, economics, service/self-help, careers, adventure and history.
Note: I’m choosing to write a biography.

• All articles should have 800 words or fewer.
o I’m typing this at the top of my manuscript to help me remember the word count. My goal is to hit this at 790-799 words precisely.

• Nonfiction articles geared to our younger readers (ages 3 to 7) are especially welcome. These should not exceed 500 words.
o My topic is for older kids, so I won’t do this, but I’m keeping this in mind for a future article.

• Articles with a tight focus are most successful.
o I already narrowed this down to one main focus in my subject’s life. If you haven’t yet done this, narrow your topic ASAP so you can move forward with your own article.

• We prefer research based on first-hand experience, consultation with experts or primary sources.
o I’ve already visited several museums and historic sites about this person (my first-hand experience). If you haven’t yet done this for your topic, explore online historic sites or museums on your topic. Or if you live close enough, go there and visit!
o I own 4 books of autobiographies and also actual speeches from this person (primary sources) If you don’t yet have any primary sources on your topic, dig around and look for them. Click here to get some tips on how to do this. If you have other questions about primary sources, let me know and I’ll give more tips.

• Articles about cultural traditions and ways of life should reflect a deep understanding of the subject.
o I will be ultra careful here to be sensitive to the life and times of my subject.


  1. Hi Nancy, Thanks again for letting us know the steps you are taking for writing an article for Highlights. Can you please share tips on how to look for primary sources on any topic? Thanks, Chris

    • Hi Chris, I added this link up above to the article and I’ll add it again here. Click here to find tips on looking for primary sources. Have fun!

      • Thanks for info. You must get tired of hearing this but you are amazing! I am very, very grateful that you share all you have learned over the years.

      • Chris, I never get tired of hearing how someone like you is encouraged as a writer!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to brighten my day!

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