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Submission Preparation Checklist

As part of the submission process, authors are required to check off their submission's compliance with all of the following items, and submissions may be returned to authors that do not adhere to these guidelines.
  • The submission has not been previously published in English, nor is it under consideration for publication with another journal (or an explanation has been provided in Comments to the Editor).
  • An abstract (250 words maximum) is included to help reviewers decide if they are appropriate for judging the paper. (First Words, Dialogues, In Memoriams, and Reviews do not require abstracts. Simply check off here and type "n/a" in the Abstract field on the submission page.)
  • The text submission file is in Microsoft Word, or a similar document format such as OpenOffice or RTF.
    Image files are in .jpg or .tif format.
  • The submission document comprises text, images with captions, endnotes, and a reference list.
  • The text is double-spaced; uses a 12-point font; and employs italics, rather than underlining (except with URL addresses).
  • All images have captions, and each caption includes a photo credit indicating the owner of the image.
  • Each image and its caption is placed within the text after the first paragraph in which it is called out, rather than at the end of the text.
  • All notes are endnotes.
  • Where available, URLs for the references have been provided.
  • The text adheres to the stylistic and bibliographic requirements outlined in the Author Guidelines.

Author Guidelines


Submissions must be original works not previously published or awaiting publication elsewhere. Exceptions may be granted for works published elsewhere in languages other than English; the author must notify African Arts of this fact and, if the submission is approved, obtain permission to reprint from the original publisher. Articles are published in English and it is the author’s responsibility to arrange for and approve translation before submitting to African Arts. (Occasionally, papers will be published in English and another language, but only at the invitation of the editorial board.)   

If the paper is accepted, you will need to provide the final images as individual files, to maintain image quality. (See the section on Illustrations for Publication for more detailed instructions on image specs.) You may wish to wait for the paper to be accepted before paying any image reproduction fees, but please submit the best possible versions available to you at this time.


Main text: Avoid academic jargon and define vernacular terms. Reference your illustrations as call-outs in the text (i.e., Fig. 1, Figs. 3–4, etc.); all illustrations must be mentioned in the text and be numbered in the order of their first mention. African Arts capitalizes Black, Brown, and White as ethnic descriptors. Vernacular terms for art works are lower-case and italic if they are common nouns (a something) or capitalized and normal font if they are proper nouns: (Something or the Something). Masquerade names are generally treated as proper nouns.

References cited: We use the author-date reference format, e.g., (Jones 2015: 45); see Chicago Manual of Style 17 for specifics. Your reference list contains only works cited in the main text, notes, and captions. Do not abbreviate titles or journal names. Use anglicized spellings of major cities: e.g., Brussels, not Bruxelles.

General reference list format: 

Journal articles: Last name, First name, and First Name Last Name. Year. "Title." Journal title vol.# (issue#): page range.

Books: Last name, First name. Year. Title: Subtitle. Place: Publisher.

Chapter in edited volume: Last name, First name. Year. "Title." In First Name Last Name and First Name Last Name (eds.), Title: Subtitle, pp. #–#. Place: Publisher.

Online source: Last Name, First Name OR Corporate Author Name. Year. “Title of article/blog post/etc.” Website Name, Month date; URL.

Endnotes: These should be pertinent, substantive notes only; resist the temptation to include overly peripheral information or tangential musings. Do not use endnotes for bibliography. Cite references in the endnotes the same way they would be cited in the main text.

Images and captions: All articles, with the exception of First Word and book reviews, must include images. Write the captions so that they are logical and informative in themselves, referring to the discussion in the text. The photo credit line identifies who took the photo and the rights holder for the image, if different. Every image caption must include a credit line.

Caption format:

Studio photos:

Traditional art:

Name or identification of the object

Artist/People; Region, country; date

Medium (and process, if appropriate); dimensions in centimeters

Collection information

Photo credit: name of photographer and any “courtesy of” information

Additional description or commentary. 

Contemporary art:

Artist name (place of birth, years of birth/death)

Title (date)

Medium (and process, if appropriate); dimensions in centimeters or “dimensions variable” for large installations

Collection information

Photo credit: name of photographer and any “courtesy of” information

Additional description or commentary.

Field photos:

Identification or description of the subject. (Incorporate the information listed above for studio photos if appropriate.) Site. (Please tell us if you wish to withhold this information for reasons of security or privacy.) Date of photo. Archive/collection. Additional description or commentary.  

Photo credit: Name of photographer and any “courtesy of” information. If the photo has been reproduced from another source, provide the reference citation.


Inserting Images and Captions into a Word Document: If you can adjust the size of the image in a photo editing application, make it 6 inches wide or less. (If you can't do this, Word should automatically scale the image when you insert it, but it's safer to work with images that already fit within the page margins.) Only insert images and captions between paragraphs. 

Place your cursor at the end of the paragraph that will precede the image. Make a hard return. In the Insert menu, choose Pictures-->Insert Picture From-->This Device, navigate to your image, select the image, and click Insert in the lower right of the screen. The picture will appear in your document.

Now place your cursor at the beginning of the next paragraph and make another hard return. Move your cursor up into the empty line you just created and type or paste your caption information.

If you need to insert several pictures in a row, continue creating open space and inserting the images and captions within blank lines. Do not insert images directly within paragraphs.

Specifications and Recommendations: All illustrations are printed as high-resolution digital images. African Arts can no longer accept hard-copy photographs or slides for illustration and does not have the staff to do more than basic adjustments to electronic images.

If you must reproduce an image from a printed source, take a photograph of the page rather than making a scan; scanned images, when reprinted, will produce an interference pattern that cannot be eliminated. When photographing a object, try to include a generous amount of space around it that can be cropped to fit the layout. Take a second look at field shots to be sure that there is nothing odd in the background.

Name your image files with your name and the figure number (i.e., “Jones fig. 1,” etc.). Do not include descriptive content or credits in the file name. Illustration numbers must be consistent across image file names, caption numbers, and call-outs in the text.

Electronic images: We accept .tif, .jpg, or, if absolutely necessary, .pdf files. Photoshop allows us to correct the image resolution to a printable 300 dpi; however, an increase in dpi does not make a blurry picture any sharper—it just makes it blurry on a larger scale. We understand that in certain cases, such as rare historical images, options are limited, but try to pick the crispest image available to you. In order to upload to OJS, your image files must be less than 24 MB in size.

Permission to reproduce: It is the author’s responsibility to obtain written permission to publish photographs they do not personally own and to pay any related fees. It may take some time for a museum or other institution to process your request. If the owner of the photo is not the owner of the object photographed, it is desirable—and often necessary—to obtain the permission of the latter as well. Reproducing contemporary works of art involves securing permission from the artist unless authority has been transferred to an agent. When requesting permissions, note that African Arts is a nonprofit publication and that you are requesting one-time reproduction rights in all media; this can affect whether or not and how much you are charged for reproduction. You may wish to defer securing permissions or ordering photographs until your submission has been accepted for publication; however, copies of all forms or emails granting reproduction permission must be provided to the African Arts editorial office before publication. Furthermore, upon publication all authors are required sign a publication agreement in which they warrant that they have been granted the right to use photographic or other materials from second parties. This form grants African Arts the right to publish, in all media, the article as it is edited and laid out by us; authors retain their right to use their text as they wish, although we request that the material is not posted or otherwise reproduced for 6 months after publication.

Updated November 27, 2023



Research articles on topics related to Africanist art history, focused on art forms and genres indigenous to  Africa, and/or artists living or born in the African continent, or diasporic artists whose work is consciously related to the African experience. 6000-8000 words, 15-25 images.

Research Notes

Focused on research in progress or on a single object. 1000-2500 words, 2-3 images.

Artist Portfolio

Spotlight on a single artist's work, written by academic researcher. 3000-5000 words, 5-10 images.

Artist Interview

Interview between academic researcher and artist, or between two or more artists, discussing artists' work or current topics in the field. 3000-5000 words, 5-10 images.

Photo Essay

Spotlight on work of one artist or a group of artists, focus on images with either substantial explanatory captions or a single analytical text with short identifying captions. 1000-5000 words, 10-20 images.


Describes the history and holdings of a museum collection of African art, written by the collection’s curator. 6000-8000 words, 15-25 images.

Exhibition Preview

Description an upcoming or touring exhibition, written by the exhibition curator, focusing on curatorial concerns and agendas underlying the exhibition. 6000-8000 words, 15-25 images.


Commentary on current issues in the field, usually organized around a theme by section editor. 2000-4000 words, images discouraged but optional.

First Word

News or opinions of interest to the field; First Word is usually commissioned by the editors of the issue, but the boards are open to proposals submitted to the African Arts editorial office. 2000-4000 words, images optional.

In Memoriam

Invited obituaries of important contributors to the field of Africanist art history. 1000-2500 words, 2-5 images.

Book Review

Reviews of recent books on topics of Africanist art history or closely related fields. 1250-1400 words, no images.

Exhibition Review--North America

Reviews of exhibitions of African art in public museums and galleries located in North America. 1250-1400 words, 5-10 images.

Exhibition Review--Europe

Reviews of exhibitions of African art in public museums and galleries located in Europe. 1250-1400 words, 5-10 images.

Exhibition Review--Africa

Reviews of exhibitions of African art in public museums and galleries located in Africa. 1250-1400 words, 5-10 images.

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