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Agricultural Communications and Technology
Guidelines for Extension Educational Publications

ACT Publication Mission Statement

To produce informative, useful, readable, attractive educational materials and make them easily
accessible to the people of North Carolina.


Publications prepared, printed and distributed with Extension funds or under the auspices of The
Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T State University must be confined to
subjects relating to agriculture, natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community
development or 4-H. They must be prepared in the prescribed form and approved by the program
leader as being in furtherance of the purposes of the Smith-Lever Act.
Extension publications offer practical, how-to information that can help people improve
their lives and businesses. Extension publications are not the place for theoretical discussions,
research reports that don't relate findings to the real needs of the audience, literature reviews, or
publishing for the sake of the promotion/tenure process. Communications specialists (editors and
graphic designers) are the liaisons between the subject matter specialists (authors) and readers. All
that we do must be in the best interest of our readers. Editors serve as "advocates" for the readers
by carrying out the mission stated above.
Our primary reason for producing Extension publications is the public’s need to know.
To provide North Carolinians with useful and relevant learning materials, Extension
specialist/authors are assumed to continuously anticipate the needs of the public and then to
produce materials that address those needs. Editors in ACT help authors produce materials that are
written and designed in a style appropriate to the intended audience.
All policies in this document support those created to support the graphic elements
developed by North Carolina A&T State University. Whenever questions between the two policies
arise, the A&T policy is followed, unless doing so violates those created by a funding agency.


In an effort to assure that our publications are reader- and user-friendly, we remove those items
that create distance between the author and the reader, including:

  • footnotes
  • internal citations (except in extremely rare circumstances)
  • abbreviations before names that indicate degrees held
  • abbreviations, in text, after names that indicate degrees or certifications (identification as
    an Extension professional is sufficient credential for an author)
  • lengthy lists of references ("references" are more properly thought of as "additional
    information" and should consist of materials easily obtainable by the average reader)

Editors also adhere to certain style conventions that increase readability and reading
comprehension. We have established style guidelines for text, tabular material and graphics. For
the most part, our style follows that of the Associated Press Style Manual or the Government
Printing Office Style Manual.


Legal Requirements

Federal guideline requires that publications contain these statements:
Certification Statement: “Distributed in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8
and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are open to all people regardless of
race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. North Carolina A&T State University, North
Carolina State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and local governments cooperating.”
Cooperating Statement: “Employment and program opportunities are offered to all
people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State
University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local
governments cooperating.”
Equal Employment Statement: “North Carolina A&T State University is a land-grant
doctoral/research intensive institution and AA?EEO employer
Disclaimers: Use the follow short disclaimer when brand names not chemicals are
mentioned: “The use of brand names in this publication does not imply endorsement of the
products or services named or criticism of similar ones not mentioned.”
The longer version when chemicals are mentioned: “Recommendations for the use of
chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names
and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply
endorsement by North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, or North
Carolina Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not
mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use
complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current
information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any
chemical. For assistant, contact an agent of North Carolina Cooperative Extension.”
Cost Statement: “____ copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $____ or
$ ____ per copy.” The cost statement must appear on all public documents printed in quantities
of 200 or more. Only publications printed for the sole purpose of sale to the public or with nonstate
appropriated funds are exempt from this requirement. The term “cost” should include direct
costs in the form of “labor, materials and other identifiable design, typesetting, printing and
binding costs.” The costs of writing and editing the publication are excluded if they are not
provided in-house.
Recycled Paper: Documents printed on recycled paper must contain a “printed on recycled
paper” statement.
In addition to these requirements, there are other legal and quasi-legal guidelines to which
editors adhere:

  • Brand names and trade names are used only when absolutely necessary. If they are used, the
    disclaimer clause (see actual wording above) appears in the publication and the registered
    names are identified with the proper ® and ™ symbols.
  • No copyrighted material is used without permission. It is the responsibility of the author to
    notify the editor when the copyrighted material is contained in a publication and to secure
    permission to use it.
  • Credit is always given when material is taken from other sources.
  • The name “North Carolina Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T State
    University” appears prominently on each publication, preferably at the top of the first page (or
    cover). While it is required that the name appear on the front of all publications, the name
    need not be the dominate element in the design.
  • If outside funding is obtained for specific projects or programs, or if there is outside agency
    sponsorship, these agencies’ name(s), logo(s), or both may be used in printed materials that
    may not violate any of the existing guidelines for Cooperative Extension identification. In all
    cases, the identification of the sponsoring agencies must be smaller in size than the logo of
    North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Guidelines governing the authorship of extension publications:

  • The primary purposes of listing an author(s) on a publication are: 1) to identify the material
    with an expert in that field; and 2) to give the reader a contact for further information.
  • The Extension staff member (specialist, associate or assistant) bearing the major
    responsibility for the writing and overall development of a publication is considered the senior
    author, and his or her name should be listed first in the authorship. Co-authors may be listed.
    Other contributions, such as reviews, critiques, data organization, illustrative material, etc.,
    may be credited in a statement of acknowledgment.
  • The number of authors of a given publication should be limited to two or three (unless authors
    involved represent more than one project group, agency or university, etc.).
  • Names of authors no longer on the Extension staff (including those deceased) should be
    removed from the authorship in subsequent reprints/revisions. These individuals should be
    credited in an acknowledgment as having developed the original manuscript.
  • When a current staff member revises a publication originated by a former staff member, the
    current staff member should be listed as author. If no current staff member has had direct
    involvement in the manuscript preparation, or if the publication is not significantly revised
    from the original printing, the project group can be listed as author (e.g., Extension
  • On occasion, graduate students may write Extension publications under the supervision of
    specialists. In such cases, their names may be included in the authorship, but not as senior
    authors. Specialists should make sure this policy is understood.
  • Undergraduate students should not be given the responsibility of writing Extension
    publications and will not be listed in the authorship.
  • Editors can advise authors on proper methods of crediting those who assist in preparing

Guidelines governing credit for funding or co-sponsorship:
Often, funds for printing publications come from outside contributors. Such contributions may be
acknowledged in a statement such as:

  • "Funding for this publication was provided by the XYZ Association."
  • Funding acknowledgments are usually printed on the back page (or back cover) of a
  • The contributor's logo can be included next to the acknowledgment, if requested, but it should
    not be larger than 1 inch square. In no case will the logos of commercial companies be printed
    on publications except to acknowledge contributions toward publishing costs.
  • A publication published jointly (equal funding) by Extension and another member of the
    University or UNC system may have both agency logos printed on the front cover in equal
    prominence. A publication published jointly by Extension and an agency outside the UNC
    system may carry both agency logos on the front cover, but the Extension identification will
    be more prominent.

Information Management

Extension publishing is managed by means of a planning and scheduling system that roughly
parallels the plan of work process. In early winter, Extension Administration will provide ACT
with a list of priority projects to be produced the coming year. Projects not on the list, must be
approved by the Program Leaders in order to be accepted for publication.
The Ag. Communications and Technology team meets weekly to ensure that all jobs are
progressing in the most expedient way. Communications specialists and authors work as a team
during the production process. Each member of the team has specific responsibilities to carry out
in a timely manner in order to meet delivery and quality standards.

Authors' responsibilities include:

  • planning their publishing according to the needs of Extension clients;
  • doing their best to write clear, accurate, complete manuscripts;
  • grounding their material in solid research and factual subject matter expertise;
  • having manuscripts reviewed by their peers;
  • making sure their manuscripts are in final form before they are submitted so that changes
    don't have to be made at the proof stage;
  • submitting publication projects on time, as scheduled;
  • knowing, and providing the editor with, pertinent information related to audience,
    content, format, quantity, funding, etc., before the production process begins;
  • being open to editorial advice for improving manuscripts;
  • reading and returning proofs as quickly as possible; and
  • providing graphics and other necessary materials requested by the editor or designer.

The editor's responsibility is to:

  • find out from the author a publication's intended audience, purpose, budget, distribution
    plan, and all other pertinent information;
  • advise the author on best approaches to format and design and the most cost-effective
    printing options;
  • edit, not write, the manuscript to the reading level appropriate for the intended audience;
  • make sure the manuscript is accurate, complete and clear; that grammar, punctuation and
    spelling are correct; that style conventions are followed; that problems of structure and
    length are resolved; that the tone is positive;
  • work with the author to resolve differences of opinion about the editing;
  • work with the designer to decide on type fonts and sizes, graphics needed, format, paper
    and number of inks;
  • work with the designer and author to determine final design and printing specifications;
  • have the author check and correct proofs until everyone is satisfied that the publication is
    ready to print;
  • carry out the author's distribution instructions;
  • help the author develop and implement a marketing plan for the publication.

The graphic designer's responsibility is to:

  • create the page format or design;
  • scan illustrations and/or photographs and create illustrations and cover designs as needed;
  • do necessary color correction;
  • size and place digital graphics;
  • provide proofs for the editor and author;
  • make corrections requested by the editor and author;
  • properly set up the digital file, including making color separations;
  • test the file (pre-flight) to make sure all elements are included and the file will print
  • create the final printing specifications;
  • create the ready-to-print digital file and composite and separated proofs;
  • assist with proofing;
  • create a pdf of the publication for electronic publishing
  • write accurate print specifications;
  • secure bids;
  • determine where the publication will be printed;
  • secure a purchase order for outside printing;
  • communicate with the printer during production to ensure that the job is handled
  • check printing proofs;
  • verify that the final printed publication is of acceptable quality;
  • notify the author when the publication is completed;


Communications specialists maintain the technical skills, knowledge and equipment to do all prepress
production work, which greatly reduces the cost of Extension publishing and gives us the
flexibility to use the best, most economical printer for each job. We keep up with rapidly changing
technology to ensure that the materials we send printers produce the most economical, highest
quality products possible.

Quality Control

Quality control begins with editing, when the manuscript is revised as necessary to communicate
the author's message clearly to the intended audience. Then elements such as credits and
disclaimers are incorporated. As a publication is designed, all legally required elements are added.
These include the Extension logo, the "EEO" statement, the date, etc. Each publication is reviewed
many times before it is printed to ensure that all quality standards are met. It is carefully checked
after printing to make sure the print quality is acceptable.
The role of communications specialists is to serve the interests of Extension as a whole
and the interests of our clients. It is our goal that every educational publication be useful to our
readers and presents a professional image for the agency.


Ag. Communications and Technology is in the process of developing a Publications Evaluation
Process that will include, but isn’t limited to, using outside reviewers (county agents,
administrators and readers) to evaluate the projects. Evaluation forms will be sent to the reviewers.
Evaluation forms will also be sent to authors of new and revised publications when they
are completed. Authors are asked to rate the helpfulness of the editing and graphic design work
and the timeliness of production.
As communications professionals, one of the primary ways of getting feedback about our
work is through entering critique and awards programs in which our work is evaluated by our
peers and compared to hundreds of other products from across the country.

To Produce a New Publication

A simple process has been established to produce Extension materials. It includes these steps:

  • Confer with Ag. Communications and Technology.
    Authors should begin by contacting Ag. Communications and Technology early and answering the
    questions on the Communications Check-up. An editor will be assigned to the project. Authors
    who are including publications, videos or marketing materials in a grant proposal should confer
    with an editor in Ag. Communications and Technology before writing the grant. Editors can
    suggest and show samples of various options, and obtain costs estimates.
  • Prepare manuscript and submit it for peer review.
    Authors should proceed to develop their projects with the assistant of their editor. Authors should
    submit their manuscripts for critique and feedback to four reviewers – two who have scholarly
    expertise in the subject and two, such as Extension agents or consumers, who represent potential
    users. The reviewers will provide the author with comments. Authors should incorporate their
    reviewers’ suggestions and provide their editor with the updated manuscript. The names of the
    reviewers should be recorded.
  • Ascertain an estimate of production costs and receive production approval.
    The editor will calculate publication costs and forward the estimates to the author for authorization
    to proceed with production. Once project funding is approved, editor and author together will
    prepare a production schedule and review drafts of the publication.
  • Produce and distribute publication.
    Once the author has signed off on the final revised proof (use Project Approval Form) of the
    publication, the editor will see to its printing. The final project will be delivered to the previous
    agreed upon location. The editor will make sure that the printed document meets the specifications
    outlined in the printing specifications form.
  • To revise or reprint an existing publication.
    If the author decided to revise or reprint the publication, this information is provided to Ag.
    Communications and Technology, which arranges for the reprint or prepares the revision. A
    reprint means the document is printed with no changes. Whenever revisions are made the costs are

Use of Freelancers/Other Outside Communications Consultants

If you hire freelancers or other outside communications consultants, you will take full responsibility for
quality and getting the publication produced. We can provide the consultants with University symbols but
will take no responsibility for the quality of the product they produce. As well, ACT will not take their
work and revise or edit to fit our internal standards. If you hire outside consultants for portions of the job,
you will need to assure they can deliver what is needed for the job to be printed or produced. Because of
the workload, Ag. Communications and Technology frequently hires freelancers and other consultants to
complete projects. When we handle the contract with these consultants, we will assure that the product
meets the established standards for quality.

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