DPN Style Guidelines

If you are submitting an article or any other piece of written work to DPN, we thank you for your contribution.

We strive for consistency from article to article and appreciate your cooperation. That being said, we do not ask for journalistic perfection and genuinely prefer to see the use of comfortable, conversational style as this magazine serves to connect a community.

We would advise against the easy mistake of self-promotion; we believe the best way to promote yourself is to help other people. Of course, we highly encourage you to refer to any books, CDs, or other publications of your own that may be helpful to our audience.

What We Need to get Your Article Published

The first thing we need is a little basic communication. Drop Dan an e-mail, dan@dpnews.com, to start the discussion about your story idea. Our deadlines are found at the bottom of the last column on this page. Our preferred method for delivery is a shared Google Drive document, but we can also accept almost any kind of text file-including Microsoft Word documents and even simple text written in a an email message. All items should be sent to Dan's email address. We can accept attachments up to 20MB in size.

Specifics To Include (*required)

  • *article text
  • article photos and illustrations (we love great photography!)
  • sheet music (1 page, please)
  • audio files (the highest quality you can send)
  • *author bio (pithy, please)
  • *author photo (a large one please, we'll reduce)
  • *author contact information

Specific Style Concerns

ABBREVIATIONS/ ACRONYMS: Spell out abbreviations or acronyms on first reference, then when shortening to an abbreviation or acronym, use all caps. For example, spell out Daughters of the American Revolution the first time, then feel free to reference it as DAR from that point on.

- Note: The word CD is an abbreviation (Compact Disc) and should be capitalized. When pluralized, it should be CDs (see apostrophes).

COLON: If what follows could be a complete sentence in its own right, use initial cap ("I am a fool: My keys are in my car.”); if followed by a phrase only, use lower-case ("I know where I left my keys: in my car.”)

(OXFORD) COMMA: Use serial commas to separate all listed items INCLUDING the final two, even when separated by ‘and’. For example: “Winken, Blinken, and Nod”.

APOSTROPHES: Add an ‘s’ but no apostrophe to a number to make it plural: “She kept rolling 7s.” The same rule applies to decades: “1980s”. Use an apostrophe on a decade only if cutting off the initial figures: the ’80s. Use apostrophes with possession and the contraction of words (It is = It’s).

- Note: Do not use an apostrophe when specifying possession of the word it: “She doesn’t know where its collar is.”

The pluralization of acronyms and abbreviations do NOT require the use of an apostrophe, because there is neither possession nor a contraction implied: IRAs, CDs, etc. However, an acronym could show possession and would require an apostrophe: “NASA’s spacecraft show signs that seasons are changing on Saturn.”

CAPITALIZATION: Do not capitalize genres or instruments, i.e. old-time, jazz, rock-and-roll, hammered dulcimer, fiddle, and so on.

DASHES: The “em” dash (—) is used to set off parenthetical statements (commas and parentheses serve the same function, but the dash is more emphatic): “The mountain dulcimer can be difficult to learn — but the reward is well worth it.” Insert space before and after the dash. The “en” dash is used in ranges: “12:45-1:00 p.m.” (see hyphen). Simply put, the en-dash connects, the em-dash separates.

FIGURES: To label pictures and figures, use “fig. #” (fig[period][space][number]).

HYPHEN: Use hyphens to join two words, with no space on either side. If two or more words are being used as an adjective unit directly before a noun then you may use a hyphen to combine them i.e. two-year-old girl, full-time job, five-foot-tall man, etc. HOWEVER, when the same two words appear after the noun, a hyphen should not be used. For example, “The girl is two years old... he works full time... the man is five feet tall”.

ITALICS: Use italics for book and CD titles (not for song titles, see TITLES below). Italics also may be used — we suggest sparingly — for emphasis in your text.

NUMBERS: Generally, spell out the numbers zero through nine and use numerals for 10 and higher.

- Note: numbers used at the beginning of a sentence are spelled out. Example: Five hundred twenty-four students attended.

- Note: Use numerals (1, 2, 3) for ages even below 10. When used like an adjective, say X-year-old, include the hyphens. Otherwise, don't use the hyphens. For example: the 5-year-old girl kicked her brother, who is 8 years old.

PERIODS: If a sentence ends with a parenthetical phrase which is not itself a complete sentence, the period goes outside: “He wants to be respected (i.e. feared).” But if the parenthetical is a complete sentence, the period goes inside: “And people remarked that he muttered, ‘Oh, dim!’ /(I often say ‘dim!’ myself.)”

QUOTATIONS: Put all periods, commas, and other punctuation inside the quotation marks.

TITLES: Italics are used for books, TV series, films, periodicals, major musical works, paintings and sculptures: Time, Star Wars, The Scarlet Letter, Dulcimer Players News. Individual poems, short stories, magazine or newspaper articles, or song titles go in quotes: “Saint Basil’s Hymn,” “Whisky Before Breakfast,” “How to Play Backup,” etc.
Exception: In the track listing for reviews, list the song titles in italics, separated by semicolons. No track numbers, please.

A WEB SITE: Write as a single word: website.


Article deadlines correspond with ad reservation dates.


  • article confirmation: March 1
  • ad submission: March 15


  • article confirmation: June 1
  • article submission: June 15


  • article confirmation: September 1
  • article submission: September 15


  • article confirmation: December 1
  • article submission: December 15

PO Box 278
Signal Mountain, TN 37377

email: dpn@dpnews.com
phone: 423-886-3966