Editorial guidelines

The review Humanitarian Alternatives operates on the basis of calls for contributions as well as on a commission basis. In the latter case, the review’s editorial team (Chief Editor and Editorial Board) will contact authors and participants who seem likely to contribute to a topic it has previously defined, whether for its Focus or its other sections (Perspectives, Transitions, Innovation, etc.). Humanitarian Alternatives also welcomes any unsolicited article proposal, which it nevertheless reserves the right to retain or not.

All articles are submitted to the editorial team. Once the evaluation is completed, a notification of acceptance, rejection or request for revision is sent.

Unless the author expressly states otherwise, he or she agrees that his/her article (or oral contribution) is published on the review’s website and on any other external media of the review’s partners (press and internet).

For the article to be accepted, we ask that authors writing in English IMPERATIVELY follow the rules that follow.

The PDF document gathering all the editorial rules listed below can be downloaded here.


      I.          PRESENTATION RULES

Length of the text

The average length of a text is around 2,400 words (characters, spaces and footnotes included), subject to special agreement depending on the project.


The text must be submitted in Word and in the following format:

  • Times New Roman 12 for running text and Times New Roman 10 for footnotes
  • Justified text
  • Single line spacing
  • No paragraph indents
  • Within one section, only use single line breaks (carriage return)
  • Do not use bold or underline words in the body of the text

Use of italics: Italics are reserved for:

  • titles of works
  • names of journals, reviews and newspapers
  • foreign language terms
  • Names of organisations in a foreign language
  • Latin words and phrases

Headings and sub-headings

Headings should break up the text into clearly identifiable sections. Please avoid exceeding two levels of headings.


All book and article references should be footnoted, using Word’s automatic footnote call (References/Insert footnote). By convention, footnotes are never placed in titles. See below for details.

Authors’ presentation

All articles must be accompanied by:

  • A short biography of the author describing his/her current position, institution of affiliation and professional trajectory. Please do not exceed 150 words.
  • A photo (portrait) in colour and high definition (300dpi, min. 472×472 pixels)


      II.         STYLE


Please use British English spelling, except when referring to proper nouns that are usually spelt with American English. For example:

  • a non-governmental organisation
  • the UK National Council for Voluntary Organisations
  • the World Health Organization
  • the International Organization for Migration


Hard spaces: do not use hard spaces before punctuation marks (; ? ! :).

Quotation marks: please use double inverted commas (“…”) throughout. Single inverted commas should be reserved for quotations within quotations.

Example: Pictet added a second “positive” definition, explaining how aid should be shared out: “The help available shall be apportioned according to the relative importance of individual needs and in their order of urgency”. This new principle, which he called “proportionality”, was also christened the “distribution rule”.

Capitalisation: please capitalise:

  • institutions (e.g. the Parliament, the Congress)
  • the word “State” when the word is used to refers to an organised political community
  • official positions when followed with the person’s name
  • the names of NGOs and international bodies, according to their preferences in their official communications.

Example 1: On 7 July 2020, claiming that the World Health Organization had failed to act to implement reforms demanded by his Administration, President Trump followed through on his threat, sending a formal letter to the US Congress and to the United Nations.

Example 2: Determining whether there has indeed been a resurgence of State sovereignty, insofar as humanitarianism is concerned, depends in large part on the historical vantage point.

Please do not capitalise all words within a title or a subtitle.

Acronyms and abbreviations

When an entity or organisation is referred to by an acronym or abbreviation, its full name, followed by the acronym in parentheses, must be specified when first mentioned in the text.

Example 1: Within the European Union (EU) in 2018, 3.2 million residence permits were granted to third country nationals.

Example 2: Once achieved, the reform would, in theory, allow local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assume a frontline role in the management of emergency responses.

When the name of such an entity or organisation appears only once in the text, its acronym should not be shown in parentheses.

When an acronym or abbreviation refers to a term in a foreign language, the term in the language in question must be specified before the acronym, in italics and followed by a semi-cadratine hyphen, when first mentioned in the text.

Example: The fact that, in France, the judicial investigation has been entrusted to the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (Parquet national antiterroriste – PNAT in French) calls for serious reservations.

Acronyms and honorifics should not be followed by a full stop:

  • Acronyms: EU, USA, UN (not E.U., U.S.A., U.N.)
  • Honorifics: Mr, Mrs, Dr (not Mr., Mrs., Dr.)

Latin abbreviations as well as abbreviations within footnotes for terms used for referencing must be followed by a full stop.

  • Latin abbreviations: i.e., ibid.
  • Abbreviations for referencing: vol.2

International non-governmental organisations

Please write names of international non-governmental organisations in English if the organisation itself uses one in its official communications in English. For example:

  • Doctors Without Borders (and not Médecins Sans Frontières)
  • Action Against Hunger (and not Action contre la Faim)
  • Humanity & Inclusion (and not Humanité & Inclusion)

Example: 2020 marks the fortieth anniversary of Doctors of the World.

If the text refers to a branch of the organisation in a specific country, please specify the country after the name of the organisation, separated by an em-dash.

Example 1: The research centre of Doctors Without Borders – Switzerland states that its aim is to “improve the way projects are implemented in the field and to participate in critical thinking on humanitarian action”.

Example 2: The photograph depicts Lâm Duc Hiên in June 2021, at the Contemporary Art Center of Ankara (Turkey) during the opening of his exhibition “Mother, mothers” on the theme of violence against women, a work started with Doctors of the World – France in 2008.

If a non-governmental organisation does not have an official name in English, please leave the name in the language of origin and write it in italics.

Example: I was led to contact two organisations that authorised me to work with them: the Association de la Colonie colombienne and SOS Latinas en Francia.

Please capitalise the names of NGOs according to their preferences in their official communications.


Dates must be presented as follows:

  • 14 February 1989

and not

  • 14/02/1989
  • 02/14/1989
  • February 14, 1989
  • 14th February 1989


Numbers below 100 should be spelt out, except for ages, centuries, percentages, temperatures and units of measurement, which should always be written in figures.

Ordinal numeral adjectives should be spelled out.

Three-digit increments must be separated by a comma. In decimal numbers, the integer part and the decimal part must be separated by a full stop.

Example: As of 3 October 2020, Quebec was by far the most affected province. Out of a population of 8.5 million, there were 76,273 cases and 5,857 deaths – approximatively 62% of all deaths related to the pandemic in the country. […] A first contingent of 1,000 members of the CAF was deployed in twenty residential and long-term care centres in the Greater Montreal area. 670 military personnel from amongst this contingent had prior medical training.

Tables, graphs, and maps

They must all have a brief description, a title and a source of reference. The author will have ensured in advance that their publication is authorised.


In the case of your own translation, please indicate “author’s translation” into brackets in the footnote.

Example of footnote after a translation: Jenny Edkins, Whose hunger? Concepts of famine, practices of aid, University of Minnesota Press, 2000, p.102 (author’s translation).



Each footnote should not exceed seventy-five words.

The footnote must be entered in superscript and without parentheses. It must always be placed before any punctuation mark (closing quotation mark, comma, period…).

Bibliographical references should not be placed in the body of the text but in footnotes. With some exceptions, the text should not include a final bibliography.

References of books, book chapters and articles

First references of books in English should be presented as follows:

Conor Foley, The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism went to War, Verso, 2010.

First book chapter references in English should be presented as follows:

David Trim, “Conclusion: Humanitarian intervention in historical perspective”, in Brendan Simms and David Trim (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention: A History, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p.381-387.

First references of academic articles in English should be presented as follows:

Katarzyna Grabska, “Constructing ‘modern gendered civilised’ women and men: gender-mainstreaming in refugee camps” in Gender and Development, vol.19, no.1, March 2011, p.81-93.

First references of newspaper articles in English should be presented as follows:

Emily Rauhala and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “U.S. says it won’t join WHO-linked effort to develop, distribute, coronavirus vaccine”, The Washington Post, 1 September 2020.

First references of documents in English should be presented as follows:

Inter-Agency Standing Committee, IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, January 2007.

Subsequent references will be presented as follows:

  • Books: Conor Foley, The Thin Blue Line…, op. cit., p.23.
  • Book chapters: David Trim, “Conclusion: Humanitarian intervention…”, art. cit., p.385.
  • Academic articles: Katarzyna Grabska, “Constructing ‘modern gendered civilised’ women…”, art. cit., p.89.
  • Newspaper articles: Emily Rauhala and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “U.S. says it won’t join…”, art.cit.
  • Documents: Inter-Agency Standing Committee, IASC Guidelines on Mental Health…, op. cit.

References to foreign books, book chapters and articles are presented in their original language and according to the typographical standards of that language (see “Règles éditoriales” for references to books, book chapters and articles in French). In a text in English, a reference to an article in French will therefore be presented using herringbone quotation marks (« … »).

Please note:

  • For book references, the place of publication is not indicated.
  • The first name of an author must always be written in full and precede the last name.
  • Use et al. only if there are more than three authors.
  • Page numbers: use “p.” for page(s) (not “pp.”, even when a group of pages is concerned)
  • Page ranges should be indicated as follows: p.8-12

Online references

When an article is available online in its entirety, the URL through which it can be accessed must be included in the reference. Please do not include the URL if the article is only available to read under a firewall.

The existence of an Internet address at which to find the referenced document does not exempt the document from being cited in accordance with the preceding indications (in other words: no internet references alone).

The references include URLs and must be presented in the following way:

Katy Long, “Syrians suffer as world plays politics with humanitarian aid”, The Conversation, 19 February 2014, https://theconversation.com/syrians-suffer-as-world-plays-politics-with-humanitarian-aid-23163



Once the author receives his/her draft article from the editorial team with editing notes and comments, it is important that the author review these changes and comments as soon as possible to return the revised draft to the editorial team.


It is important that all changes mde to the draft are apparent using the “track changes” feature so that the editorial team working on the article can easily identify differences from the previous version.


If the author disagrees with a revision or comment and does not wish to implement the change in the revised draft, the author should include a comment bubble arguing, in one or two sentences, his or her disagreement.