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Featuring developments in Federal highway policies, programs, and research and technology.
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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Author's Instruction and Article Submissions

Author's Instruction and Article Submissions

About the Magazine

Public Roads is a bimonthly, fact-based magazine of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), focusing on innovations in Federal highway policies, programs, and research and technology; critical national transportation issues; important activities and achievements of the highway community; specific FHWA programs; and other subjects of interest to highway industry professionals. The magazine serves as a tool to facilitate knowledge sharing and technology transfer.

The reading audience includes FHWA employees; international, national, State, and local transportation officials; members of highway-related professional societies and associations; researchers at technical libraries and technology transfer centers; professors and students of engineering and traffic management; members of appropriate congressional committees; and others interested in highway research and technology and in FHWA policies and programs.

Guidelines for Feature Articles

When preparing a manuscript for submission, please follow the guidelines presented below to ensure that your article is considered for publication.

General Style

  • Write for an educated transportation audience rather than the general public, but recognize that not all readers will be familiar with your area of expertise. The “angle” you might use for a work zone article would not focus on educating readers about the dangers in work zones. Instead it would focus on how agencies can set up “safe” work zones that enable motorists to navigate through them to reduce congestion and danger.
  • To the extent possible, use plain English and define uncommon terminology. (See for more information.) Write the article in third-person and do not include quotes from the bylined author or coauthors.
  • Use a “problem/solution” format for the subject matter and tone of your article. Discuss the problem and mention the solution in the introduction to enable managers and senior officials to learn the gist of the article without having to read it from beginning to end.
    • What problem(s) or issue(s) does the article discuss?
    • What solution(s)—technology, program, policy, strategy, approach— will help address the problem or issue(s)?
  • Where appropriate, discuss strategies and activities that could benefit other transportation organizations and State departments of transportation (DOTs). Consider such elements as:
    • National or regional versus State-specific problems/solutions.
    • How a researcher or agency decided on a specific approach.
    • Cost, time, and labor efficiency.
    • Impacts on safety, operations, infrastructure, congestion, environment, and timeline.
    • Interagency coordination.
    • Contract changes and incentives.
    • Special or unique equipment, technologies, or strategies used.
    • Community participation and communications.

Technical Requirements for Article Submission

  • Submit manuscripts for feature articles in a Microsoft® Word® file. Articles should be no longer than 2,400 words to 3,600 words, including tables, sidebars, and author(s) bios, but excluding captions for photos, figures, illustrations, graphs, maps, or charts.
  • Submit photos, charts, graphs, and other visuals with the article. See the section called, “Photos and Other Visuals,” for specific visual criteria for submission.
  • Include detailed text captions for all visuals, including photos, figures, illustrations, graphs, maps, charts, etc. that explain what is shown and clearly identify the relevance of the visuals to the subject matter of the article.. In addition to captions for the printed version of Public Roads, more detailed 508-compliant captions are required for the online version. (See for more information.)
  • Include the name(s) of the author(s) and contact information, including e-mail address, phone number, and mailing address.
  • Ensure that you incorporate author bios of about 50 words per author, including current title and affiliation, degrees, and educational institutions attended.

Quotations and Citations from Experts

  • Include direct quotations and citations from 4 to 10 sources including reports, publications, and individuals who can provide diverse perspectives and comments to support the ideas and themes in the article.
  • Use quotations that are problem-solution oriented rather than opinion- or politically-oriented. Public Roads prefers not to publish opinion statements that cannot be substantiated by corroborative resources. Minimize the use of unsubstantiated opinion statements. When it is necessary to use such a statement, attribute it to a reputable, published source or to a speaker who agrees to be quoted, however, note that the quote may be removed from the article.
  • Provide a written quote approval (an e-mail is fine) from each person quoted in the article or provide a Web address of the quoted source for verification.
  • Obtain high-level transportation official quote approvals and forward them to Public Roads’ staff.

Fact-Checking and References

  • Credit facts and statistics to appropriate sources, preferably a U.S. Government agency or report, and referenced directly in the body of the article text including the name of the study or report if applicable. For all cited or referenced facts, statistics, reports, etc., please provide exact Web addresses (where available) to facilitate fact-checking and verification of sources. If a Web address is unavailable, be prepared to fax the appropriate page with surrounding content to the editor when requested.
  • Use abbreviated citations including the name of the organization that published the material for references, quotations, and conclusions drawn from studies and reports (e.g., "According to FHWA's Corporate Management Plan" or "the Indiana DOT How to Construct a Highway in 20 days user guide indicates that …"). Do not say, “In a North Carolina study…” Instead, say, “in North Carolina’s How to build a Highway in 90 days study…” Provide Web links to resources that you used to research your document (and keep a copy of the Web site page to back up your information, because many times Web pages are overwritten with new material) in case a question arises before or after publication of an article.
  • Check the accuracy and spelling of all organizational and company names, product and publication names, and trademark and service marks. For verification, an editor also may ask for a Web address for accuracy.
  • Use private company names only once; only if they are necessary (discuss the technology/innovations, instead).

Note: Public Roads does not typically print references (except in an abbreviated format indicated earlier), endnotes, or footnotes in the magazine. (However, at an author’s request, references may be posted in the online version of Public Roads.)

FHWA Technical and Policy Review

  • After submission to the magazine and editing, every article will be sent back to the author for final author review. Please do not submit multiple versions of an article. Once an article is submitted, you must wait for the author review before incorporating any final information into an article.
  • After the author review, every article also undergoes a formal technical and policy review involving staff from FHWA headquarters, the Resource Center, and division offices in the States discussed in the articles. The goal is to ensure that statements in the article are technically accurate and do not contradict official FHWA policies at the national or State level.

Photos and Other Visuals

  • Along with the manuscript submission, authors should provide 6 to 8 slides, prints, or high-resolution digital photos measuring at least 4 by 6 inches each at 300 dots per inch (dpi). Digital photos may be provided via e-mail, CD-ROM/DVD, or through a file transfer protocol (FTP) electronic address. Please provide original source files, either in JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) or (Tagged Image Format (TIF) format, and not embedded in Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint®.
  • Note that images pulled from official U.S. Government Web sites typically are not the appropriate resolution for use in magazine publishing. When shooting digital photos, ensure that the camera is set to take shots at the highest resolution possible.
  • Photos should be interesting to view; support and illustrate the ideas, themes, and activities referenced in the article; and, whenever possible, show people in action. Ensure that all visuals show safe and appropriate actions, such as workers who are wearing hardhats and safety vests.
  • All visuals, including photos, figures, illustrations, graphs, maps, charts, etc., should include detailed captions explaining what is shown and clearly identifying the relevance of the visuals to the subject matter of the article. In addition to captions for the printed version of Public Roads, more detailed 508-compliant captions are required for the online version. (See for more information.)
  • All visuals also should include an appropriate photo credit (photographer’s name and/or organization) or source (agency or company name).
  • Photos submitted for consideration as front and/or back covers should be at least 8.5 by 11 inches and vertically oriented. They may be submitted either digitally, at 300 dpi resolution, or in print format.
Deadlines for Submission of Original Manuscript
Issue Deadline
January/February July 1
March/April October 1
May/June December 10
July/August February 1
September/October March 21
November/December May 21

Manuscripts and all accompanying materials should be submitted on CD-ROM to Public Roads Managing Editor, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, 6300 Georgetown Pike, Room F-204, McLean, VA 22101.

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration