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23 September, 2019 | Blog

Producing the Horological Journal

We’ve just gone to press for the October issue of the Horological Journal (HJ), meaning we have a bit of breathing space as we move on to November’s. This seems like a good time to give a little more information about the monthly production process for the longest continuously-running technical journal in the UK and possibly the world. We’ve not missed a month since September 1858 and we don’t intend to start now.

We value accuracy and all articles need to pass peer review before being accepted for publication. Our Technical Editor Justin Koullapis, and Assistant Technical Editor Colin Fergusson, oversee this process. It’s hard to say how long it will be; sometimes it takes a while to find a suitable reviewer and sometimes there needs to be discussion with the author. Don’t assume that taking a longer time to review means that an article is somehow lacking. It’s often complex concepts and specialised content that necessitate the dialogue.

Once it’s peer-reviewed, it reaches me, the Editor. This is where I go over it and make edits for syntax, readability, house style and so on. It makes my job much, much easier if an author has read and followed the Style Guide, so please please do this, and don’t forget the copyright licence agreement – we will need this too. Every author has an individual tone of voice and ‘flavour’ in their writing, which I always keep as much as possible; the HJ would be quite dull if it all read as though it were written by just one person. Sometimes, though, I do need to make changes so that sentences parse properly, aren’t ambiguous or repetitive, or just read better. I’m trying to make the pieces come across as well as possible to readers, so don’t be offended by this; it’s a standard publishing process and also my job title. After this, I pass it to our proofreader, who uses his horological and literary skills to look for any typos or other errors that might have slipped through. As a small aside, fitting the HJ together every month reminds me of those Chinese tangram puzzles. Sometimes the decision of which article goes in now and which goes in next month is simply a question of how the lengths fit together to make up the correct number of pages. Sometimes it’s about time sensitivity, or trying to keep the content varied and balanced. For example, I might have three excellent articles on different aspects of wristwatch repair. It’s good to have them and I’ll certainly run them, but I probably won’t put them all in the same issue.

Then it’s time for it to be laid on the page by Sam Barton, graphic designer and InDesign/Photoshop master extraordinaire. Despite his amazing skills (seriously, he’s good) there’s still only so much he can do with a tiny, blurry, low-resolution and backlit image, and even less if it’s a pdf file. We don’t need professional level images unless it’s going on the cover, but please make sure that any photos you send us are high-resolution, individual jpegs. If you’ve got any questions about horological photography or image requirements, do get in contact with us. We’re happy to help you.

After that, the HJ is sent down to the printers, who handle delivery as well. We go to press on the third Wednesday of the month (a bit earlier around Bank Holidays), and it should hit your doormat on the first of the next month or close to it.

There’s a bit more to it than this, of course, with relation to advertising, page planning, article scheduling and so on, but I hope that was informative. Now I’d better get back to the November issue…

Rachel Reeves, Editor


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