So you want to write for ;login: Online.

Writing is not easy for most of us. Having your writing rejected, for any reason, is no fun at all. The way to get your articles published in ;login: Online, with the least effort on your part and on the part of the staff of ;login: Online, is to submit a proposal first.


In the world of publishing, writing a proposal is nothing new. If you plan on writing a book, you need to write one chapter, a proposed table of contents, and the proposal itself and send the package to a book publisher. Writing the entire book first is asking for rejection, unless you are a well-known, popular writer.

Proposals to ;login: Online are not like paper submission abstracts. We are not asking you to write a draft of the article as the proposal, but instead to describe the article you wish to write. There are some elements that you will want to include in any proposal:

  • What's the topic of the article?
  • What type of article will you be writing: research, deployed system, book review, opinion, culture, interview?
  • Who is the intended audience? System administrators/SREs, systems researchers, programmers, security specialists, etc.
  • Why is your topic important right now?
  • What, if any, non-text elements (illustrations, code, diagrams, etc.) will be included?
  • How long do you think your article will be? Articles work best if they less than six pages, and overly long articles work better as book chapters.

Start out by answering each of those six questions. In answering the question about length, bear in mind that attention spans seem short these days, and long articles are less likely to be read all the way to the end. It is unusual for us to publish a one-page article or one over eight pages in length, but it can happen, and it will, if your article deserves it. We suggest, however, that you try to keep your article between two and five pages, as this matches the attention span of many people.

We suggest that you read some ;login: Online articles so that you have a good idea of the type of articles, the tone, and writing style that authors typically use. This is not the place for papers and formal writing style. A much more conversational style is appropriate.

You want to make the case for your proposal idea when you tell us why your topic is important right now. Provide us with the motivation, what excites you about your topic. We do not want marketing, but your most eloquent explanation of why this article is important to the readership of ;login: Online, which is also the membership of USENIX, as well as the broader USENIX conference communities, representing systems research, SRE, and security and privacy.

Unacceptable Articles

Certain articles will not be published by ;login: Online. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Previously published articles. Note that a piece that has appeared on your own website but has not been posted elsewhere on the Internet is not considered to have been published.
  • Marketing or public relations pieces of any type. We don't accept articles about products. "Marketing" does not include being enthusiastic about a new tool or software that you can download for free, and you are encouraged to write case studies of hardware or software that you helped install and configure, as long as you are not affiliated with or paid by the company you are writing about.
  • Personal attacks and any other content that violates the USENIX Code of Conduct.


The initial reading of your article will be done by people using UNIX-based systems. Later phases involve entering text and adding images to a CMS. Please send us text/plain formatted documents for the proposal, and send them to

Illustrations should be raster formats (PNG or JPG) and should be a minimum of 1400 pixels wide.


You own the copyright to your work and grant USENIX permission to publish it in ;login: Online. You must grant permission for any third party to reprint your text; financial negotiations are a private matter between you and any reprinter.