Pendragon Publishing Logo

Author and Photographer Guidelines

Steam Train Photo


Table of Contents

Editorial Guidelines

Potential Authors

Editorial Pointers

Preferred Style And Format

Preliminary Approaches

Potential Image Contributions

Black & White


Methods Of Providing Images

Payment And Copyright




 BACKTRACK is always keen to encourage the submission of suitable material by prospective authors and photographers but, to avoid possible disappointment, the following general notes might be helpful to indicate the preferred form which submissions should take. 



As hinted by its name, the magazine is exclusively historical in content, but the definition of 'historical' will be loosely interpreted and potential contributors should not feel inhibited should they wish to relate historical practices to the current situation if relevant in the context of an article; there is a degree of flexibility. As a general guideline, we take the view that at least ten years should have passed before a subject is appropriate to BACKTRACK.

AMYAS Great West No 3272BACKTRACK aims to provide something for everyone within its pages. Balance and objectivity will be the over-riding philosophy and, overall, we try to provide material which does not favour any one specific system whether it be defined by pre-group company, post-grouping allegiance or BR Region. Most importantly, we seek accuracy, scholarship and readability with an emphasis on encouraging new and different ways of looking at things.

Rail transport was and is as much about people as machines and we shall always try to inject a human element into the journal and encourage writers to take a broader view than mere counting of class totals, enumeration of fleet lists and many other familiar themes known to us all. There will always be some space for such matters but the magazine's founders set out to create something of a 'thinking person's journal' within its pages. Railways had a profound influence in setting the style and pattern of much that we take for granted in the modern era, over and above the mere technology of the vehicles, and it is hoped that potential contributors may find extra inspiration in this approach.

BACKTRACK rarely ventures into the well-ploughed field of current railway preservation save where relevant in the historic context. This apart, however, we shall neither encourage nor discourage particular subjects and potential writers should concentrate on whichever topic they prefer — locomotives, rolling stock, stations, particular companies etc. Contributors may also feel free to let their ideas run pretty well unfettered if they so choose! We shall always pay close attention to anything which is offered.

In general, articles will be more likely to be selected for publication if they address areas not so far publicised in other journals. They should be well-researched, authoritative and preferably accompanied by high-quality illustrations.


Main feature articles should be of some 3-5,000 words, submitted in typescript, single-sided and double -spaced on A4 size paper. Articles can also be accepted on disk accompanied by a hard copy and electronically. Shorter articles (500-3,000 words) are also welcome to help balance the content. Illustrations should be provided on a basis of about one per 500 words of text (preferably more to allow flexibility of choice). Maps, drawings, etc. should also be submitted if relevant, ideally of reproduction quality.

If an article is only rendered unusable by virtue of excessive length and/or sub-standard pictures or drawings, we may elect to shorten the text, substitute different pictures or have artwork redrawn. We can also accept articles without supporting pictures provided it is understood that if we cannot locate illustrations, the article will not be published. In all such cases authors will be advised in advance. 

We can supply a copy of our preferred forms of abbreviation and other relevant style points on receipt of a stamped self-addressed envelope. 


In many cases potential authors may wish to write in advance to enquire about the suitability of a possible article, or even submit a short extract and sample pictures from a proposed longer piece.  Both these approaches are encouraged and can often save much wasted time.



Under this heading, there is no real shortage of 1950s and 1960s material and we are not actively seeking random pictures from this period. In consequence, black & white photographs (unless, of course, submitted in conjunction with a feature article) are unlikely to be accepted unless of exceptional quality and of early date (usually pre-BR). We would, however, be very interested in receiving well-integrated black & white photo-features of historical interest from any period, provided that the quality is high.


BACKTRACK has gained much of its reputation through the high quality of its colour illustrations and we are always on the lookout for good high -quality historical colour material on any subject, whether related to an article or not. All things being equal, pictures from the pre-1965 period are more likely to be of interest, but anything more than ten years old is eligible for consideration.


Images can be provided in a number of formats.  These are:-

  • Original Photographs, Colour or Black and White.
  • Transparencies of any size we prefer to use originals, not copies, where possible. We find that Kodachrome usually gives the best results but we are happy to examine any material. In the case of rare early colour pictures (e.g. pre-war), historical interest will usually take precedence over technical quality
  • Original Digital Images supplied on CD, DVD or E_Mail
  • Scanned Image.  Please scan on a Drum Scanner or a Good Quality Flat Bed Scanner (Optical Density also known as Density Range of 4 or more).  The attached document provides guidance on the best settings to scan documents to produce the best quality images at publication.  Scanner Settings
  • Prints.  If prints are to be supplied they must be as Contone (continuous tone) please do not supply images that have been printed on an inkjet printer, even if on 'photographic paper'.  Due to the nature of inkjet prints these images prints have to be scanned out of focus resulting in poorer quality images

 IN EVERY CASE, where possible, it is far better to supply the original image(s) ensuring the continued high quality reproduction of Backtrack magazine.



BACKTRACK always pays for material used, our rates being fully comparable with other similar publications. Payment is normally accompanied by a complimentary copy of the issue in which the material appears and we try to settle with our contributors within a few days of publication. An additional payment for illustrations used in an article is usually included in the fee and it is the responsibility of the contributor to pass these payments on to those to whom they may be due. There are a few regular photo sources with whom we settle direct and where this has been done we will advise authors accordingly. 


We assume, unless advised to the contrary, that copyright of all written material belongs to the author submitting such material. We are always happy to advise in case of uncertainty. 

Finally, please note: AUTHORS AND CONTRIBUTORS SHOULD CLEAR ALL REPRODUCTION RIGHTS IN PICTURES AND OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS BEFORE MATERIAL IS SUBMITTED TO US. We shall be pleased to advise on this point but BACKTRACK cannot be held in any way responsible if material is submitted to us by an author and, when published, is subsequently discovered to be in contravention of copyright.