Editorial Guidelines & Style Sheet

Editorial Guidelines

Format: Use our style sheet below for common format and style questions.

  • Single space after periods.
  • Single return after paragraphs. No indent.
  • Please use html tags for formatting that requires bold, italics, or hyperlinks. A cheatsheet for tagging can be found here.

Photos: We encourage you to take photos, video, and/or record audio and submit with story. We also ask you to find and press stills. All media should be sent with proper caption and credit. Editor will choose best media for the site’s layout.

To Submit: Send all stories as BOTH an Microsoft Word attachment, and as text in the body of an e-mail message to info@independent-magazine.org or to editor’s email.  Please include:

  • Headline (title of the story)
  • Sub headline (one sentence of further explanation)
  • Summary  teaser (a paragraph that can be used in the email newsletter and on the home page)
  • Byline (your name)
  • Bio (1-2 sentence bio with your e-mail or website if you wish)
  • Writer headshot (optional)
  • Contact information for sources interviewed

Length: Typically about 800-1,000 words.

Reporting Process

  • Writers must represent themselves and The Independent accurately and professionally at all times.
  • Journalistic, or neutral tone, encouraged and required unless the article is explicitly reviewing content, is an essay or an editorial.
  • In-person or phone interviews preferred over e-mail. Writers encouraged to record interviews but ask source’s permission in advance.
  • E-mail and other modes of communication may be used for background, research, and spot fact checks.
  • It is not our policy to submit copy to sources in advance for their approval.
  • Writer is responsible for double-checking spelling of names, film titles, years, and other reported facts.

Editorial Process

  • The editing process varies by individual writer, depending on quantity and quality of past stories.
  • A light edit includes small changes to adhere to The Independent’s style sheet or for purposes of accuracy or brevity. Often those changes are not sent to writer to approve.
  • If editor requires additional clarification, reporting, or approval of changes, writer will receive copy for approval.
  • It is not our policy to submit articles to sources in advance for their approval.

Types of Articles

  • Feature Stories report on an industry trend, using multiple recent examples and with quotes from several reliable sources.
  • Filmmaker Interviews can be written as a Q&A (e.g. Filmmakers and Their Global Lens: Mary Dore) or as an edited profile with direct quotes interspersed (e.g. ITVS: Has This Key Funding Parnter Lost its Way?). We generally shy from single director interviews and prefer stories about multiple films and filmmakers.
  • Industry FAQs should be in a Q&A format.  See examples on the site. (Use full names for both interviewer and interviewee for first question then just interviewer’s initials and interviewee’s last name; bold all names and entire questions.)
  • Reviews should work as stand-alone pieces. Preferably, reviews refer to more than one film that follow a trend or theme or review an entire festival as critic’s choice or a section of a film festival.

For Films or Filmmakers Looking for Coverage

  • We receive far more requests for coverage than we can field, or respond to individually.
  • We generally do not cover films in their fundraising stage, unless the film is one of several examples in a trend story.
  • We are more likely to cover finished films than films in production
  • We are interested in filmmakers who want to report first-person about lessons learned or observed during any phase of the filmmaking process. What is unique about your experience and do you have additional examples from the field?
  • Giving us significant advance notice of public screenings improves your chances at coverage.
  • We rarely review or cover individual films.If your film is playing a festival we typically cover, that increases your chances at coverage.
  • Reading our stories is the best way to determine if you and your film are a fit.

Style Sheet

Here are some guidelines that all articles on The Independent must follow for publication.  Also, use dictionary.com for spelling, dictionary and thesaurus or Elements of Style or other Bartleby books for grammar help.

Dates & Times
Internet Terms
The Independent References
Titles – in Italics


Abbreviations are fine, but the full spelling should be included in first-time reference. For example:

The Independent Feature Project (IFP) is an organization for filmmakers across the country. The main goal of the IFP is to help filmmakers promote their works.


Apostrophes should be placed as follows based on whether the subject is singular or plural:

The filmmakers’ goal was to educate the community.

Mr. Jones’s goal was to educate the community.


Use long dashes not double dashes:

Several films screened – although no filmmakers attended.


If writing a single date:

August 24th

If writing a set of dates:

August 24–30, 2001

If writing a decade date that is not in this century:


If writing a decade date that is in this century (probably won’t be all that applicable just yet):


When writing time of day:

8 pm


When referencing our publication, use The Independent.


Always capitalize Internet.

Use website.

Use e-mail not email.

When an URL comes at the end of a sentence, put a period after it.

Provide complete urls for as many relevant links as possible.

Hyperlink to a film or organization when it is first mentioned then type as regular text from that point on.


Always use the initials of the interviewer and the last name of the interviewee, and bold:

SH: Why do you make films?

Wiseman: Because I like them.

When referring to an interviewee, refer to their last name.

Since 1990, Wiseman has produced several films.


The numbers 1 – 9 should be written out:

There were three cats in the room.

Numbers above nine should be numbers:

There were 11 cats, 100 dogs, and 1,000 birds.

Numbers in a series should be written as follows:

Competitors 1-8 will be first; competitors 152 – 160 will be next.

Numbers starting a sentence will always be spelled out:

Five hundred movies were at the festival.


The first place winner
The 14th place rider

Write out percents:

5 percent
100 percent


Always put periods and commas inside quotation marks.

“It’s a great film,” said Wiseman.

Put question marks and exclamation points inside quotation marks unless they apply to the sentence as a whole. For example:

He wondered, “Will this film be a success?”
Has anyone heard him say, “Don’t watch that film”?


Movie titles, book titles, television programs, and episode titles should be in quotes.

Exhibits and programs should be in title case:

The Wiseman Retrospective
Screenwriting for Dummies

Individual pieces within an exhibit should be in italics:

“The Scream” was on exhibit at the MFA.


The Independent’s Film Festival & Market Coverage Guidelines

General Guidelines

Festival assignments must be arranged with and approved by editor in advance. Editor must be given reasonable amount of time to submit required assignment letters to festival, or to approve either ticket reimbursement or a request for press pass to be initiated by writer. In general, festival coverage requires 2-3 posts that are emailed to editor within 24 hours of the events covered. We will do our best to ensure that those are edited & published as soon as possible.

Each post should be approximately 1,000 words maximum. Festival coverage can include:

1. Overview of the festival’s programming/themes, typically an intro or an advance story; requires multiple films as example and multiple interviews
2. Report on industry news and trends from panel discussions
3. Filmmaker Q&As
4. Festival atmosphere, gossip, behind-the-scenes, news as it happens
5. Reviews of particular film section or format (i.e. shorts program)
6. Photo album or other social networking or multimedia coverage

All festival coverage should adhere to style sheet above and be sent to the editor during festival, no later than a few days after fest ends.

Final Thoughts

Here are some questions to consider while attending fetivals:

-favorite film seen at the fest
-most politically charged film
-most sincere panelist
-most alluring film promotion
-a candid admission from film programmer, distributor, or audience member
-height of tension
-height of fashion
-height of artistic expression
-smartest advice for new filmmakers
-wish you were here moment
-films bought or sold
-outlandish script to screen anecdote

Example Coverage

For examples of successful festival coverage, search Sundance, Tribeca, NYFF, TIFF or contact editor.