The Structural Engineer > Guide for contributors

Guide for contributors

1. General information

The Structural Engineer actively encourages authors to submit complete articles (or synopses for an initial opinion) to:
(Note: postal submissions cannot be accepted)

Articles are considered for suitability; initially by editorial staff and then by at least one Editorial Advisory Group Member (all of whom are Chartered structural engineers). Each EAG member is associated with one of the primary sections of the magazine. Some articles are then passed to independant reviewers so that factual accuracy can be checked and meaningful feedback returned to the author/s.

Upon request, published authors are entitled to receive three print copies of the issue in which their article appears. Unfortunately we cannot supply final-version PDFs.

2. Article types

The magazine publishes different types of articles, accross seven primary sections:

This section includes Institution- and industry-related news items. Institution news is almost always generated in house, while industry news is generally supplied by PR agencies.

Feature articles often have a broad scope (up to 6 000 words in length with the option to include a number of images to illustrate/enhance the text) and are likely to appeal to structural engineering experts and generalists alike. Articles that focus on current “hot topics” are just as likely to be considered for inclusion as more retrospective "subject review" type articles. Contributions may be sent to independent reviewers for “light touch” assessment and feedback.

The current Editorial Advisory Group member is Mr Don McQuillan (FIStructE).

Project focus
These articles detail the structural engineering challenges (and other innovative/interesting aspects) of a specific project. Projects can be large or small scale and are not limited to any particular type of structure or material. Articles are usually between 3 000 and 5 000 words and should include inspiring imagery where possible.
Submissions are required to undergo a review process, with an initial decision expected to be provided within 3 months.

The current Editorial Advisory Group member is Dr Allan Mann (FIStructE). 

Professional guidance
These articles are aimed at the structural engieering generalist and should provide information and advice on everyday matters affecting the practicing structural engineer. Topics that focus on (but are not limited to) the following, are welcomed:

  • health and safety
  • legal issues
  • insurance
  • presentation/negotiation skills
  • interview techniques
  • "engineering lessons learned" etc
Articles may be up to 2 000 words but are often considerably shorter.

The current Editorial Advisory Group member is Mr Simon Pitchers (MIStructE).

This section includes technical series that are published over the course of several months (or in the case of the Technical Guidance Notes, written by technical staff in house, several years)
but also publishes contributed articles that that are technical in nature. Typically these articles will focus on methods of analysis, material properties and aspects of design of structures. Contributions will likely undergo both in house and independent review.

The current Editorial Advisory Group member is Mr Chris O’Regan (MIStructE).

Content includes:

  • Short “Viewpoint” articles where the author writes on a subject of particular personal interest/concern. These articles may inspire further comment or debate to be published at a later date
  • Profiles of inspiring structural engineers
  • Book reviews
  • Readers letters (Verulam). A lively forum where readers' 'queries, comments, correspondence and curiosities' are aired. Letters are overseen by 'Verulam'; a myserious overseer who has the dual role of imparting wisdom and cajoling readers into entering the various debates at hand!

The current Editorial Advisory Group member is Mr Angus Palmer (MIStructE).

Research (until December 2014)
Note: With the launch of Structures (a new research journal published in collaboration with Elsevier) in early 2015, The Structural Engineer will cease to publish research papers from December 2014. As such, the magazine will only consider submissions received before 31 March 2014. Information on how to submit to Structures will be available soon.

This section publishes in-depth research papers that represent an advance in structural engineering that can be applied (or has the potential to be applied) in practice. While highly academic or mathematical manuscripts should be directed to specialist research publications, suitable topic areas could include (but are not limited to):

  • development of new materials
  • field measurements of the way structures perform
  • assessment methods for existing structures
Papers should contain a full, up to date reference list and are likely to receive a high level of technical scrutiny. Every effort is made to limit the overall time from submission to publication, to less than nine months.

The current Editorial Advisory Group member is Prof. Ian Burgess (MIStructE).

At the back
This section contains Institution and Regional Group diary dates and products/services/ recruitment advertising.

3. Copyright

  • Copyright for the text/imagery remains with the author/s (and/or those from whom permission to reproduce text/imagery has been granted to the Institution, where the author is not the copyright owner).
  • Copyright for the design/layout of material published in The Structural Engineer resides with the Institution.

As such, according to copyright law and the Institution’s Regulation 10.2, Institution member contributors do not need to sign a Licence to publish document.

All non-member contributors (irrespective of whether they are the lead author) are required to sign a Licence to publish form at the point their article is approved for publication.

All material published in The Structural Engineer carries the copyright of the Institution, but the intellectual rights of the authors are acknowledged.

Where an article includes material that is not owned by the author/s, appropriate permissions must be obtained by the author/s, and supplied to the editorial office at the point of article submission.

4. Submitting material

Contributions should be submitted via email to:


Text should be supplied as a PDF document separate from any images (photos, figures, tables etc) and written to a standard of UK English commensurate with reader expectations of a world-leading technical publication. If English is not your first language please ensure that a native English speaker has proofread your article prior to submission.

Articles accepted for publication are professionally designed by The Structural Engineer. Authors should not attempt to replicate any design/layout elements in their submission.

The editorial office reserves the right to edit the text during the copyediting, proofreading or design processes should this be deemed appropriate/necessary by the editorial office and design team.


The Structural Engineer is designed to a professional standard and the inclusion of high quality imagery - to enhance reader understanding and experience - is strongly encouraged.

Images should be supplied in .JPEG format and be high-resolution - at least 300dpi for pictures and 600dpi for line drawings and graphical data. Each image should be supplied as a separate file and not embedded into a Word document. We are unable to accept images that have been lifted from the web e.g. Google images, as they will not be of a sufficient resolution for print.

Where emails exceed the file size accepted by the Institution’s servers (>10MB), a web-based file-hosting service (e.g. Dropbox) should be used by the author to supply the editorial office as necessary.

It is the responsibility of the author/s to obtain permission from the copyright owner for all images supplied. Proof of all permissions granted should be supplied to the editorial office at the point of article submission.

The editorial office reserves the right to edit, include or omit images during the page design process should this be deemed appropriate/necessary by the editorial office and design team.


5. House style

5.1 General

The Structural Engineer encourages authors to supply their professional qualifications so that these can be included in the article.

Figures and tables should be referred to sequentially in the text as ‘Fig. 1’, ‘Table 1’ etc. Captions should accompany each figure/table as well as appear in list form at the end of the document.

Spelling should follow the Concise English Dictionary, using the first option where alternatives are given.

Initial capital letters are only used for proper names (professions when expressed as generalities e.g. surveyors, engineers, architects, etc. do not have a capital letter).

There should be a single space (not a double space) between sentences.

Avoid the use of phrases such as "As shown above/below". Once the article has been designed, the text/image being referred to may no longer be in its original position.

5.2 Synopses

Research, Feature and Project focus and Technical articles should contain a synopsis (max. 150 words).

The synopsis should be written on the assumption that the reader has some knowledge of the subject but may not have specific expertise in that area.

5.3 Symbols

The use of symbols and abbreviations should follow the recommendations of BS 5775 - Specification for quantities, units and symbols.

If it is necessary to introduce a symbol not given in BS 5775, it should be clearly defined and satisfy the principles set out in that standard.

Abbreviations of units should always be given in the singular (e.g. 5mm not mms).

5.4 Mathematics

Mathematical formulae should be carefully checked for accuracy.

Non-essential derivations should be omitted, and extended development of mathematical formulae should be confined to appendices.

Authors should ensure that there is clear distinction between the numerals 0 (zero) and 1 (one) and the letters O (oh) and lower-case l (el).

Where simple fractions are given, the solidus (/) should be used instead of a horizontal line, e.g. a/b, with care being taken to insert parentheses where necessary to avoid ambiguity, e.g. 1/(a+b).

Each equation should be numbered and positioned so as to make it distinct from the main body text.

If it is necessary to make repeated reference to a complicated expression, it should be represented by a single symbol, defined clearly at the point of introduction.

5.5 Numerical results

For values less than 1, a ‘0’ should be inserted before the decimal point (e.g. ‘0.25’ not ‘.25’).

Numerical values involving a large number of zeros should be abbreviated.

Observations of continuous variables are usually expressed with one estimated digit.

The publication of all individual calculations is often unnecessary. It is usually sufficient to describe the procedure and methods used and to give the final result.

Experimental results are often more effectively presented by quoting averages, the number of replicate readings, and an indication of their variability - preferably by quoting the standard deviation, coefficient of variation or confidence limit.

All measurements should be given in SI units.

5.6 References

The Structural Engineer uses the Harvard referencing system.

References should be comprehensive and include the most recent published work.

They should be listed in the order they appear in the text (not in author/alphabetical sequence) and identified through the use of superscript numerals.

A separate reference list must be provided.

Depending on the type of reference, they should be formatted as follows:

For reference to an article published in an academic journal:

  • Author (surname, comma, initials)
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Title of article (in single quotation marks)
  • Title of journal (in italics)
  • Volume (no bracket), followed by part number, month or season (in brackets)  
  • Page reference (p. for single page or pp. for multiple pages)
Nethercot, D. A. (1995) ‘Semi-rigid joint action and the design of non-sway composite frames’, Engineering Structures, 17 (8), pp.554-567.

For reference to an article published in a book:
  • Author or editor (surname, comma, initials)
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Title (in italics)
  • Edition (only required if it is not the first edition)
  • Place of publication, colon, name of publisher
Hillerborg, A. (1996) Strip methods design handbook. 2nd ed. London: E & F N Spon.

For reference to specific chapters/sections within a book:
  • Author of the chapter/section (surname, comma, initials)
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Title of chapter/section (in single quotation marks)
  • ‘in’ plus author/editor of book (surname, comma, initials)
  • Title of book (in italics)
  • Place of publication, colon, publisher
  • Page reference (pp. for multiple pages)
Smith, I. (2003) ‘Vibrations of timber floors: serviceability aspects’, in  Jones, S. & Larsen, H. J. (eds.) Timber engineering. Chichester: Wiley, pp.241-266.

For articles published at a symposium/as proceedings of a conference etc.:
  • Author of paper (surname, comma, initials)
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Title of paper (in single quotation marks)
  • Title of conference, colon, subtitle (in italics)
  • Location and date of conference
  • Place of publication, colon, publisher
  • Page reference (pp. for multiple pages)
Lillistone, D. & Jolly, C. K. (1997) ‘Concrete-filled fibre reinforced plastic circular columns’, Composite construction – conventional and innovative. International conference. Innsbruck, Austria, September 16-18. Zurich: IABSE, pp.759-764.  
For reference to an online report:
  • Author or organisation
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Title of report (in italics)
  • Online (in square brackets)
  • Available at, colon, URL
  • Accessed, colon, date (in round brackets)
EEFIT (2010) The Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010. [Online]. Available at:  (Accessed: 5 March 2012).
For reference to a web page:
  • Author [OR use title followed by year if author unknown]
  • Year (in round brackets)
  • Title of site (in italics)
  • Available at, colon, URL
  • Accessed, colon, date (in round brackets)
  • Only use URL by itself if author & title cannot be identified. The date of publication and date of access should always be included.
ANSYS (2012) Available at: (Accessed: 5 March 2012).

For reference to a Standard:
  • Organisation
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Number and title of standard (in italics)
  • Place of publication, colon, publisher.
BSI (2011) BS EN 62305-1:2011 - Protection against lightning. Part 1: general principles London: BSI.

For reference to a UK Parliamentary Act:
  • Great Britain
  • Name of Act, colon, name of sovereign. Chapter number (in italics)
  • Year of publication (in round brackets)
  • Place of publication, colon, publisher
Example: Great Britain. Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974: Elizabeth II. Chapter 37. (1974) London: HMSO.
For reference to a legal case:
  • Name of parties involved (in italics)
  • Date (square brackets)
  • Volume number (if used), abbreviation for name of law report and first page of report
Example:  Clay v A J Crump Ltd [1964] 1 QB 533.