Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Contributors' Guidelines

We're glad you're interested in contributing to Wisconsin Natural Resources! Given our 85,000-plus subscribers, a pass-along readership of more than 400,000, and the thousands of visitors to our website, WNR is a great place to display your photographs and illustrations and share your writing skills.

A word about our readers

WNR readers are a diverse group with many interests. They are active, not just armchair philosophers. Over half of them hunt. At least 73% of them are anglers. They enjoy exploring the outdoors and finding natural beauty on hilltops and wetlands, in forests and fields.

Because they enjoy outdoor activities, our readers are concerned about our environment. You don't have to tell them there are "environmental threats" out there. They know that. They are interested in environmental solutions and the people who develop those answers. They want to read about the cultural and historical roots of outdoor traditions and environmental problems. They appreciate art that reflects concern for the environment – and they have a sense of humor.

Pheasant hunting © Jack Bartholmai
Pheasant hunting
© Jack Bartholmai

Subject matter and style

Articles should focus on Wisconsin resource and environmental issues. Readers enjoy meeting colorful people who are doing something for natural resources. Meaningful new research about Wisconsin's resources or attitudes of the people who use them are fair game for our readers.

We like seasonal pieces if we receive them at least four months ahead of the appropriate time of year.

We encourage authors to discuss natural resources issues, observation and research rather than merely sharing feelings about natural resources. Weave a good, exciting story, but don't get too dramatic. Maintain a strong factual message. Likewise avoid anthropomorphism in pieces about animals. Mood pieces and poetry are rarely used but, a good one accompanied by an appropriate photo or drawing stands a chance with us.

Wisconsin Natural Resources is not a technical journal for researchers. Only cite research results to make a point and give readers some insight. Cut through years of research and give them the gist. They are not interested in methodology; they want to know what you learned and what your research implies for managing resources. Get specific, but not pedantic.

Expect our readers to be shrewd analyzers and skeptics about facts and figures you present to support a viewpoint.

Two hundred and fifty miles of wild river corridor await exploration on the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers. © Catherine Khalar
Two hundred and fifty miles of wild river corridor await exploration on the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers.
© Catherine Khalar

If you are writing a "how-to" piece (we like these!), make it authoritative but not stuffy. You will typically be writing about activities that people do as a hobby – collecting maple syrup, making fishing lures, etc. We want "how-to" articles from people who know what they are talking about. If part of your story can better be told with a drawing or diagram, provide it or sketch it well enough that we can give it to an artist to develop further. If you can't draw it, please photograph step-by-step the assembly or construction process. Assume that readers have basic skills with tools and home equipment, but don't assume they know the jargon of a particular hobby or skill. If a wild foods piece includes a recipe, don't forward it unless you've cooked it, eaten it – and loved it!

Copy preparation

Articles can run as short as two or as long as six double-spaced, typed pages (about 500 to 2,500 words). Shorter stories are fine. If you can forward both hard copy and and e-mail your story, all the better. We use Microsoft Office Word 2003 but can convert from other formats.


Articles that are accompanied by color digital photos, slides, drawings, charts or black & white prints are more likely to be used. Photos of people and places described in your article are essential. If the article has a seasonal flavor, include seasonal graphics if you have any. If you have written a "how-to" article and we can photograph a step-by-step process for completing a project, we'd like the opportunity to photograph it ourselves.

Karner blues are the size of your thumbnail and easily confused with other blue flits. © Steve Apps
Karner blues are the size of your thumbnail and easily confused with other blue flits.
© Steve Apps

Photographer's guidelines

We're looking for images showing:

Wisconsin landscapes that capture a region, a season, a mood
Strive for the rich colors of early morning and evening.
People enjoying outdoor play or work
Kids flying kites, people exploring a stream, hikers or bicyclists on trails, people fishing, trappers coming back from a long day on the trap line, hunters enjoying a seasonal hunt, skiers and snowmobilers on a quiet trail. We need both full-body shots and close ups of faces of men, women and children of different ethnic groups. Since hunting and fishing have traditionally been portrayed as activities for white males, we also enjoy shots that remind readers the outdoors is for everyone – grandparents and kids, male and female, the elderly and people with disabilities. Take advantage of these shots when the opportunities occur naturally; readers can usually spot a set-up shot.
People working on day-to-day activities that can change the environment by changing their habits
Household chores like painting, staining furniture, yardwork, planting trees, gardening, composting, changing oil and antifreeze, recycling goods, contolling "pests", launching boats, installing piers, raking lake weeds, eating fast foods, working on engines or cars, washing cars, ATV cycling, riding cross-country dirt bikes, buying and using cleaners... you get the idea. These are not the sort of shots that are marketable to a wide audience, but they are important to our stories and readers.
Community activities with environmental consequences
Road salting; runoff from fields, construction sites, parking lots; shots of septic tanks being installed or pumped and wells being drilled; garbage collection, leaf burning; dumping brush at designated spots; subdivision development; road building; and so forth.

Fishing charters often provide plenty of action to hook newcomers and experienced anglers to the fun of catching fish. © Robert Queen
Fishing charters often provide plenty of action to hook newcomers and experienced anglers to the fun of catching fish.
© Robert Queeen

Critter close-ups
Birds, furbearers, small mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects. Coyote, weasel, bear, deer, hares, bobcat, otter, beaver, muskrat, mice, shrews, squirrel, chipmunks, fish, turtles, frogs and lizards – all creatures great and small!
If you are shooting cover shots, take vertical photos. Remember, we will need to superimpose our logo across the top and place small headlines at the bottom of the image, so keep those spaces clear of visual clutter. Sky, water, earth, branches, clouds, grasses and woods should be colorful and clear.
Forward copies we can keep in our files, including CD's of digital photos, or send originals that we can borrow for two weeks to duplicate those images we'd like to retain. When photos are selected for publication, we will contact you and request the original. During production, we retain originals for six weeks.
Film and digital submissions
If you are forwarding digital images for our consideration, we can accept images of at least 300 dpi. If you are using a 6 to 8 megapixel camera or better and set your camera for its highest resolution, we should do well. We prefer to receive digital images as JPEG files on CD rather than receiving large files as attachments or receiving TIFF files. We cannot accommodate RAW files. If you would like to send us some thumbnails as an inquiry, that will work fine as long as a CD with high resolution files would be available subsequently. Large files of several megabytes will be filtered out by our e-mail system and will not reach us. If you are still taking slides, we prefer to use color transparencies (35 mm, 2x2, 4x5 or larger) of relatively slow films (ASA 64 or slower). Color prints with sharp focus and crisp, dense colors may be acceptable too. Don't overlook black and white photos as well. We cannot accept manipulated images that combine or enhance more than one photo. Please include information we can use for crafting a caption, and tell us who took the images and how to reach that person via e-mail, mailing address and phone number in case we have follow-up questions.


You should know that we don't pay authors, photographers or artists for their work. That's a reflection of our budget, not our respect for your work. Published contributors are given the opportunity to claim their contributions as noncash charitable donations, for tax purposes.

We can give you an opportunity to display your talents to more than 85,000 subscribers, more than 400,000 pass-through readers, and untold thousands through our website. We'll also send you complimentary copies of magazines featuring your works, and we offer a tax deduction for published contributions. We couldn't produce this fine publication and web site without your stories and photographs, so we'll treat your contributions with respect.

Still interested?

If so, we look forward to hearing from you or receiving a query letter. Get imaginative and get going.

David L. Sperling

David Sperling
Wisconsin Natural Resources
PO BOX 7921
Madison WI 53707

(608) 266-1510

Production Schedule
Cover Date Planning Deadline Articles Due
February September 6 October 6
April November 6 December 6
June January 6 February 6
August March 6 April 6
October May 6 June 6
December July 6 August 6