Editorial Guidelines



Each issue of Startwords typically involves four core meetings between the CDH team, Guest Editor, and Contributors.

Meeting 1: Soliciting Contributors and Defining Roles

Editor, Guest Editor, Tech Lead

Devoted to discussing the issue theme, potential contributors, scope of work involved, and roles and responsibilities.

Meeting 2: Workshopping Article Pitches

Editor, Guest Editor, Contributors, Tech Lead, CDH Dev & Design Team

Devoted to introducing editorial guidelines and workshopping ideas for articles and snippets. Meeting 2 will be the first time the Guest Editor introduces the Contributors to the full CDH team. Contributors will be provided with an introduction to the journal in advance of this meeting, and should come prepared to deliver a 5-10 minute pitch on their in-progress idea. The Editor will moderate this conversation, and the Guest Editor will frame the pitches within their overall vision for the issue. If possible, contributors should circulate materials in advance so that everyone can prepare their feedback and ideas before the meeting. In this meeting, the CDH team will provide conceptual feedback (how to frame the argument, what context readers will need, etc.) as well as scoping feedback on how much development and design work they will be able to devote to an article or snippet.

Meeting 3: Platform Workshop

Contributors, CDH Dev & Design Team

Devoted to a technical introduction of Startwords, GitHub, and our editing and publishing workflow.

Meeting 4: Final Review

Editor, Guest Editor, Tech Lead

Devoted to a final editorial conversation and review of copyedits.


Guest Editor

The Guest Editor serves as the primary point of contact with all issue contributors. Responsibilities include helping to schedule meetings between CDH team and Contributors, and maintaining a spreadsheet containing every Contributor’s name, email address, Twitter account, and title of the feature/snippet they’re working on. The Guest Editor will be added to the CDH Slack as a single-channel guest.

During Meeting 2 Workshop: Guest Editor is responsible for soliciting supporting material or a brief pitch from each issue Contributor in advance of the Meeting 2 Workshop, so that the CDH team can review these materials in advance. This meeting is an opportunity for the Guest Editor to frame the features and snippets within their overall vision for the issue. This will give Contributors a shared framework to work within as they’re writing their pieces.

On Rejections: “Revise and resubmit” in the context of Startwords means design suggestions and developmental editing. It involves a fair amount of back-and-forth between Contributors, Guest Editor, and CDH team. So, we will consider whether there is enough time within the issue’s deadlines to work with an author to develop their piece. Though Guest Editors will solicit features and snippets, it is ultimately up to the CDH team whether a pitch or an article draft will ultimately be accepted. Before rejecting a piece, however, the Startwords Editor will confer with the Guest Editor about the decision to make sure there aren’t any other paths forward.

First-Round Editing: The Guest Editor is responsible for a first-round edit of features and snippets before sending them to the Editor. First-round editing consists of:

  • Ensuring that there are no glaring issues with comprehensibility, style, argumentation, and overall fit between the issue’s pieces. The pieces should feel in conversation with one another.
  • Suggesting which sentences or phrases would be best to feature as pull quotes in an article.
  • Considering how the article’s opening sentence will be featured on the homepage: does it work well as an opening hook? Can there be any edits that will make the line a) be intelligible to a general audience, b) introduce the article and/or issue topic, c) make the reader want to open the article and read more?
  • Guest Editor is welcome to edit more extensively or in other ways, if need be, so long as those edits and their approval by contributors still fits within the issue’s production timeline.

Issue Introduction

Finally, the Guest Editor writes a brief introduction to the issue, which will be included on the main issue page. Introductions should be very brief 400–800 words and simply lay out the theme that is bringing together all of these pieces in conversation.


The Startwords Editor will conduct second-round editing, which consists of a more comprehensive developmental edit that focuses on elements like style, opening hook, and questions of audience. If the author hasn’t used section breaks or suggested pull quotes, the Editor will consider where they might work well.

The Editor moderates the group meetings listed above, and is responsible for monitoring the issue production schedule. The Editor serves as the point person responsible for facilitating between parties responsible for writing, editing, development, and design. When first drafts have been received, the Editor will send an early version of the articles typeset on a development branch of the site. The Editor will also moderate between Copyeditor and Contributors.

Technical Lead

The Technical Lead is responsible for coordinating the tasks and time of CDH developers and designers working on a Startwords issue. The Technical Lead advises all parties on technical constraints and implementation, and consults on embedding interactive elements or dynamic content.

The Technical Lead oversees CDH developers and designers who will be responsible for converting finished features and snippets from Google / Word Doc into markdown, generating PDFs and depositing them in Zenodo, adding DOI to article metadata, and ensuring images are formatted properly with the appropriate alternative text. More details are available in the Asana “issue release checklist” template.