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FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin – Author Guidelines

FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin – Author Guidelines

The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin started in 1932 as a list of national fugitives. After beginning with 5,000 copies per month, the magazine eventually printed 45,000, reaching approximately 200,000 readers in over 150 countries. In 2013, the Bulletin became an online-only publication and began offering readers worldwide a dynamic, expansive website that eventually will host all content the magazine ever has printed.

The Bulletin accepts articles on virtually any topic of interest to the criminal justice community. To cover the widest-possible spectrum of subjects, the magazine generally does not publish articles on similar topics within a 12-month period or those previously featured or currently under consideration by other magazines. As a government periodical, the Bulletin cannot accept articles that advertise a product or service.


Articles should contain approximately 1,200 to 1,500 words, or about 4 to 5 pages, double-spaced. Longer articles are still accepted and may be shortened or published in parts.

For proper endnote citation format, authors should refer to A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed., by Kate L. Turabian. For grammar and style issues, authors should follow The New York Public Library Writer’s Guide to Style and Usage.

Bulletin staff members judge articles according to relevance to the audience, factual accuracy, analysis of the information, structure and logical flow, style and ease of reading, and length. Personnel edit all manuscripts for length, clarity, format, and style.

Relevance to the Audience

The Bulletin provides a forum for information exchange throughout the criminal justice community. Readers consist mostly of midlevel to executive managers in agencies of various sizes worldwide.

These individuals have various levels of English language comprehension and reading abilities. Further, most of them have limited time for reading articles. Therefore, authors always should present material in clear, concise, and understandable terms, keeping several questions firmly in mind.

  • Are readers familiar with my organization or profession?
  • How much do readers know about my topic?
  • Will readers find this information important?
  • What do I want readers to learn from or do with this information?
  • What can I do to make the article easy for readers to understand?

Authors should write with an appropriate tone, never talking down to readers, writing over their heads, or using inappropriate humor. They should avoid biased language (e.g., he, manpower), remain sensitive (e.g., offender with paranoid schizophrenia, not paranoid schizophrenic), and avoid clichés.

Factual Accuracy

Authors should support their articles with accurate, concise, and appropriate details, providing sufficient background information, detailed explanations, and specific examples. Also, they should limit jargon (i.e., technical or specialized language) and provide in-text explanations for any terms that readers might find unfamiliar or confusing.

Source citations must accompany facts, quoted or paraphrased ideas or works, and information generally not well known. Unlike newspapers and other commercial publications that regularly quote experts, the Bulletin prefers to paraphrase speakers, usually without naming them directly, then give credit to them in endnotes.

Analysis of the Information

Authors should analyze the information they provide, make appropriate recommendations for its use, and explain its benefits to readers. For example, an article on a new shift schedule could emphasize cost savings and improved morale.

Also, authors should check their articles for missing material or confusing elements and provide necessary clarification. To this end, a subject-matter expert, a grammarian, and someone unfamiliar with the topic could offer valuable assistance. Authors also should try reading their articles out loud to help uncover problem areas.

Structure and Logical Flow

Articles on worthwhile topics but without organization or a unifying theme generally do not receive favorable consideration. To develop a central thesis to guide the presentation, which helps to avoid such problems, authors should answer four questions.

1) Why am I writing this?

2) Who are my readers?

3) What do I want my readers to do?

4) Why should my readers care about this?

Answering these questions can help authors focus their thoughts, decide how much information they will require, and tailor documents to fit readers’ needs. In turn, these answers will lead authors to their main point or central thesis.

Authors should begin their articles with an intriguing scenario, interesting statistic, fascinating fact, quotable quote, or some other attention-getting device. Next, authors will want to explain the article’s content, why the material is important to readers, and how it will benefit them.

The specific strategy chosen for logical article construction largely will depend on the subject matter. In some cases, chronological order will prove appropriate. Instances that involve presenting a topic readers will be receptive to may call for starting with a general thesis and then supporting it with specific facts. However, when introducing a subject readers might resist, authors may want to begin by citing specific evidence before revealing their general arguments.

Articles should feature a balanced approach of the topic. Authors should devote similar amounts of attention to all areas and cover opposing viewpoints. Then, a strong, carefully planned conclusion should wrap up the article (without introducing new information), restate the article’s main points, give readers a sense of completion, and leave a lasting impression.

Style and Ease of Reading

Authors should maintain a straightforward, direct writing style, favoring concise language and avoiding unnecessary words (e.g., to develop, not in order to develop). Further, authors should write in active voice (e.g., they developed the strategy, not the strategy was developed by them), which conveys information directly, powerfully, and clearly.

The Bulletin generally prefers to publish articles in the third person (e.g. the department employs 300 officers)—a neutral vantage point. However, in other instances, the second person (e.g., you may employ 300 officers) or the first person (e.g., we employ 300 officers) prove appropriate.

Most important, authors should present their ideas in a positive manner, rather than pointing out only the negative aspects. Berating readers does little to endear authors or their topics to the very people they wish to reach with the message.

To further enhance readability, authors should avoid long sentences and paragraphs. Effective sentences generally contain fewer than 30 words and comprise no more than 2 lines. Authors should keep paragraphs as short as possible while addressing ideas completely.

Linking paragraphs together by using transitional words and phrases can help readers follow an article’s flow and present a clear relationship between ideas. Finally, brief, informative, relevant, and parallel (i.e., using the same parts of speech) headings help to create logical sections and guide readers through the main points.


Authors can submit materials for publication and contact the Bulletin staff members at leb@fbi.gov. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin is located online at leb.fbi.gov. Authors will be notified of the receipt of the material. The Bulletin also accepts full-face, passport-style photographs of authors, as well as images that visually depict subject matter. Once the manuscript has been reviewed, Bulletin staff members will advise authors of acceptance or rejection.

Suggested Topics

  • active shooter
  • administrative/personnel issues
  • crime problems and solutions
  • cyber crime
  • drugs
  • ethics
  • environmental crime
  • firearms
  • forensic advancements/technologies
  • investigative techniques
  • juveniles
  • law enforcement equipment
  • leadership/management concerns
  • officer wellness
  • negotiation/interviewing skills
  • police-community relations
  • technology
  • terrorism
  • training
  • other topics of interest to law enforcement