Editorial guidelines for authors

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 (the Chief Editor and the 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 unsolicited article proposals, 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 will be published on the review’s website and may also appear on any other external media of the review’s official partners (press and internet).

We ask authors to consult us before reprinting their article in other media or disseminating it in other ways. The reproduction of all or part of published articles is subject to the prior agreement of Humanitarian Alternatives. Only the introductory paragraph may be reproduced, provided that the article is linked to the Humanitarian Alternatives website and/or that the article’s precise reference is mentioned.

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

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


      I.          PRESENTATION RULES

Length of the article

The average length of a text is around 2,200 words (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

Italics are only for:

  • titles of books and documents (reports, studies, etc.)
  • names of medias (journals, reviews, newspapers, TV channels, etc.)
  • foreign language terms
  • names of organisations in a foreign language
  • some 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.

Presentation of the author

All articles must be accompanied by:

  • A short biography of the author describing his/her current position, institution of affiliation and professional background. Please do not exceed 135 words.
  • A photo (portrait) in colour and high definition (300dpi, min. 472×472 pixels)

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 sixty-five words.

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

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.

First references

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, pp. 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, pp. 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 (reports, studies, circulars, etc.) in English should be presented as follows:

If the name of the author and the name of the structure associated with the document are both available:

Megan Norbert, Humanitarian experiences with sexual violence: compilation of two years of Report the Abuse data collection, Report the Abuse, August 2017.

If the name of the author is unknown and only the name of the structure associated with the document is available:

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

Please note that titles of documents should always be written in italics, not in roman with quotation marks.

Subsequent references

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.

Notes and clarifications regarding footnotes

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:

  • In a book reference, never include the place of publication.
  • 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.
  • If there are two or three authors, write “and” before the name of the last author (for example: “John Watson, Michelle Gayer and Maire Connolly” and not “John Watson, Michelle Gayer, Maire Connolly”)
  • Always spell out dates in the following format: 15 February 2008
  • Page numbers: use “p.” for page and “pp.” for a group of pages
  • Page ranges should be indicated as follows, using an en-dash: p. 8–12
  • Do not include DOIs

Sources available online

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 fact that the referenced document can be found online is not an exemption from indicating its title, author and date of publication. A footnote should not only contain an internet reference.

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

Please always remove the slash at the end of a URL.

Please do not include the date on which the link was consulted.



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.