On Site's mandate has always been to publish sophisticated ideas in accessible prose. We are not an academic journal, although many of our contributors teach, and if an article comes in written for an academic readership, we usually ask that it be rewritten in ordinary language. This is not a dumbing down, but it is an attempt to maintain a clarity of language that is inclusive, rather than exclusive.
At the opposite end of the scale is the article that comes in written as if it is a blog entry - something dashed off as a hunch, or an opinion. Everything in the end is opinion, but we aren't keen on rants. In a print journal, each page is quite expensive to print, and we would like the quality of the words and images on the page to justify the expense.
However it is written, your article will be edited for spelling, grammar, syntax and clarity. Repetitions, circumlocations and generally wordiness will be removed. If you write 'utilize' it will, for sure, be changed to 'use'. Simpler is better. I refer to Fowler for usage, the London Review of Books for spelling conventions, and use The Chicago Manual of Style for citations.
If there is a good idea, and you can't write for beans, send us whatever you have and we will work with you to shape an article that matches the quality of the idea. Generally we don't want to write anything ourselves, but in a push we will, just to get the ideas out.
It isn't just about language however, my qualifications as a content editor for this magazine comes from a career as an architect, a teacher of architecture (studio, theory, structures, history) and a PhD in urban geography. I check facts, dates, places and names.
What happens is that we call first for ideas – a proposal for an article. If it is accepted, provisionally, you then have 6 weeks to write it, get the illustrations, copyright clearances if needed and all the references sorted out. We then edit the text, choose which of your images we will use and do a rough layout which is sent to you as a pdf for your comments and changes. We consider these, rework the layout and send it back to you for final approval. We have the last word on what each article is going to look like on the page, how it is titled and sub-titled and what the keywords are. Each article is part of a larger conversation which is the entire issue: this determines the order of the articles and often their length. Layout is also determined by a number of printing issues: whether a signature is colour or black and white, whether we can afford another signature of eight pages – you don't have to know any of this, but it does bear on how your article looks in the magazine.