Guide to Writing Locality Articles

By Wendell E. Wilson
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The Mineralogical Record

Locality articles are a mainstay of the Mineralogical Record, and yet very few authors, professional or otherwise, specialize in writing them. This guide is aimed at smoothing the writing process.

Topographical mineralogy, that is, locality articles in which the total mineralogy of a deposit is described and considered, is a major component of the Mineralogical Record. In these articles we like to present a broad picture, including information on accessibility, geology, mining history, ore genesis, economics and so on, with particular emphasis on the minerals and on the collecting history.

Because there is already a body of literature on most major localities, a significant portion of each locality article is usually review, and we encourage a thorough bibliography. Ideally, we would like each locality article to be the definitive review of that locality, such that no one will ever feel inclined to attempt a better one unless major new discoveries are made. This means that a reader will find pulled together in one place a key to all aspects of the deposit, and a guide to the previous literature for further study. Through this approach the volumes of the Mineralogical Record, as they accumulate on the shelf year after year, retain their reference value indefinitely.

Considering the importance of having good locality articles to publish, we thought an author’s guide might prove helpful. Authors of widely varying experience will probably be reading this, and those who are old hands at writing and researching will most likely find some statements to be patently obvious, but I hope even they will find at least a few items of value. By the same token, beginning authors may wish to tackle localities of relatively limited complexity, and may not have use at first for all of the suggestions given here. This guide, of course, must try to cover all possible components.

The only potentially counterproductive aspect of a guide such as this is that some beginning authors may feel intimidated or overawed by the idea of writing a locality article once they see what can be involved. There is no cause for discouragement, however. The editorial staff stands ready and happy to assist in any way. The main thing an author needs is simply the fortitude to begin—to overcome what writers (even those of considerable experience) sometimes refer to as “the terror of the blank page.”

Most authors have no trouble deciding what they would like to write about. However, they may wonder what the Mineralogical Record would like (and would not like) to publish.

Our primary consideration is what we call “collector significance.” In other words, are museums and mineral collectors at all likely to (a) own specimens from the locality, (b) be able to buy or self-collect such specimens, or (c) wish very much that they could get such specimens, even if they can’t? The Mineralogical Record is a specimen-oriented publication. The mere existence of fine specimens from a particular locality makes our readers want to know more about it.

Another consideration, however, is pure mineralogical curiosity. Some localities are so interesting in terms of underlying phenomena that our readers may want to learn about them despite a shortage of specimens. Such subjects, though, are comparatively rare, and ideas for such projects should first be cleared with the editor. The same holds true for localities having a fascinating and colorful history but a shortage of specimens or noteworthy mineralogy.

For many years the Mineralogical Record has published articles in the “famous mineral localities” series, and we are always happy to receive papers in that category. Articles on less well known localities are wanted as well, provided they pass the “collector significance” requirement, and especially if they are of more than just local interest.

Length should be roughly commensurate with significance, but not to the exclusion of interesting information. Authors are often unduly concerned about this, and we simply suggest that they keep on writing as long as what they produce makes for interesting reading. It’s always best to write too much and have the editor cut it down somewhat than to short-change the subject—and in actual practice we rarely cut the length of good articles anyway. The process of thoroughly researching a locality often uncovers fresh information and productive new leads to follow, so it is best not to worry about preconceived notions of ultimate length. As a rule, 4 to 4½ typed, double-spaced pages will yield one solid magazine page of text (excluding figures). We’ve published manuscripts ranging from 4 pages to well over 100 typed pages.

The first order of business in a locality study is the literature search, in which all important references to the locality, its minerals and its history are tracked down. This is usually an awkward period involving a certain amount of disorientation and wasted motion while one is building up a perspective on the subject. But it pays to be thorough in order to avoid unnecessary work and post-publication embarrassment. One never truly knows what one is getting into until the literature search has been completed.

Detailed notes must be kept regarding the source of each bit of data gleaned, so that properly referenced citations can be inserted in the resulting text, and a detailed bibliography included at the end. Furthermore it must be clear to the reader of your article which data represent your own original research and which have come from the published or privately communicated work of others.

The strategy of the search itself will vary with the subject. The following suggestions are geared primarily toward researching North American localities via English-language books and journals; for foreign localities it may be necessary to seek out analogous foreign-language publications which are too numerous to list here (but see, for example, Spencer, 1948).

Checking the indexes to American Mineralogist, Canadian Mineralogist, Mineralogical Magazine, the Mineralogical Record, Mineralogical Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts, Economic Geology, Engineering and Mining Journal, the various U.S.G.S. Bulletins, Professional Papers, Memoirs, and so on (McKelvey, 1964, 1972) may turn up some references. An important source of information, though hardly comprehensive, is the Bibliography of North American Geology series published as bulletins of the U.S. Geological Survey. These, begun by J. M. Nickles, cover the years 1785-1918, 1919-1928, 1929-1939, 1940-1949, 1950-1959, and continue in annual volumes from 1960 through 1970. Beginning in 1933, the Geological Society of America published annual volumes of the Bibliography and Index of Geology Exclusive of North America; in 1969 this series took over for the U.S.G.S.’s North American index and became worldwide under the new title Bibliography and Index of Geology. Also worth checking is the Annotated Bibliography of Economic Geology, which was issued in 38 semi-annual volumes from 1928 to 1965 by the Economic Geology Publishing Company.

A great deal of information on the history, geology and mineralogy of mines and mineral deposits appeared in early mining engineering journals, which are generally not covered by the major geological bibliographies. However, Crane’s (1909) Index of Mining Engineering Literature partially fills that gap.

State geological survey publications (if the locality is in the U.S.) are often very useful; for a bibliographical review of U.S. state publications see Smith and Cook (1979), and Smith (1987). Most states and some foreign countries have published their own geological bibliographies; however, a few are not indexed and are therefore difficult to use. Journals such as Rocks & Minerals, Lapidary Journal, Rock and Gem, Gems and Minerals, The Mineralogist and The Mineral Collector contain a wealth of non-technical data but are unfortunately not comprehensively indexed. Gem locality references may be located through Gill’s Index (1978) or Sinkankas (1959, 1976, 1981, 1997); Sinkankas’ Emerald and Other Beryls (1981), especially, contains many mineral references. Each reference will generally contain its own bibliography, and each of those entries should be checked as well.

Much effort can be saved if a bibliography for the locality has already been prepared by someone else. Especially valuable are the works by John Drew Ridge (1958, 1968, 1976, 1981, 1984).

Mineralogy texts, especially Dana’s System (in its numerous editions) and Hintze’s Handbuch, commonly carry abundant bibliographic detail. The famous Atlas der Krystallformen of Viktor Goldschmidt (1913-1923) gives a reference and usually a locality for roughly 23,000 crystal drawings; these drawings are arranged by species, but are cross-indexed by Wilson (1990), in Goldschmidt’s World Mineral Locality Index (1990)(available from the Mineralogical Record Bookstore). Economic geology textbooks are also usually well referenced and indexed.

For historical references there is only one comprehensive bibliography and it is unfortunately unpublished: A Bibliography of Books on Mining History by Arthur E. Smith, Jr. It contains well over 3,000 entries, and all publications listed are in English. Interested researchers and authors should contact Smith directly (9118 Concho St., Houston, TX 77036).

For references on American localities published prior to 1850, the book by Hazen and Hazen (1980) is indispensable. It is not uncommon to find that a graduate student somewhere once wrote an unpublished Master’s thesis or Ph.D. dissertation on your chosen locality. These can be a real boon to research when found. The student will invariably have done a fairly thorough literature search, and may also have carried out field work, sampling and analyses. Fortunately, there is a service (in the U.S. at least) to help you locate dissertations on particular topics. University Microfilms (telephone 800-521-3044) has on file over a million dissertations going back to 1861 and covering virtually all American universities and colleges except Stanford and M.I.T. They will be happy to do a computer search on the locality name for you, and send you the resulting computer print-out in a week or two. If you are associated with a university or corporation there is no charge; otherwise a flat fee of $20, regardless of the number of titles found, will apply. Once you have the information you can order the appropriate microfilm or try to obtain loan copies of the dissertations from libraries or even from the original authors.

As references are tracked back into the 1800’s, two problems become increasingly common: language and availability. Roger Bacon (1214-1294) wrote that “the first responsibility of the scholar is to learn languages,” and there is no doubt that a working knowledge of German, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, etc., would be a great advantage to the mineralogical researcher. Most of us, however, are lucky if we can stumble through even one foreign language. Foreign publications can nevertheless yield valuable maps, figures and tables which need little or no translation, so they should not be by-passed. In important cases it may be necessary to pay for a translation.

As to availability of rare reference works, that can sometimes be an insurmountable problem, even with the kind assistance of the Interlibrary Loan Service. Diligent work with a local librarian will sometimes locate a rare title in another library, even the Library of Congress, from which photocopies can then be obtained. If the work is foreign, especially British, it might prove worthwhile to contact the British Library, Science Reference Section, 9 Kean Street, London WC2B 4AT, England, or the science reference librarian at the (British) Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD England. Some institutions have available a computerized search service, and may charge a fee.

The systematic study of the literature of mineralogy can be an occupation in itself. And, in fact, there is a very useful and detailed book on searching the literature by Richard Pearl (1951), which I recommend highly despite its age. Another good one, though rare, is by Brian Mason (1953); it covers books and journals worldwide. The Internet, of course, is an ever-growing resource. Many libraries have searchable online catalogs, and a powerful web browser like Google will often turn up a great many internet sources of information on particular localities. The Mindat website often shows up in such searches, as do the websites of mineral dealers carrying specimens from the locality under consideration.

If all else fails, the researcher can quiz friends and colleagues, or track down an expert on the area and give him a phone call. Even the editor of the Mineralogical Record can sometimes help.

The degree to which original research enters into a locality article is highly variable. In some cases none is necessary at all, whereas in other cases it is essential. Some localities have been much written about over the decades (and even over the centuries), but mostly in short notes and news releases scattered to the four winds. The author who goes to the work of rooting these all out, organizing, evaluating, comparing and analyzing them, and who then brings it all together as never before has performed a major service. Important conclusions about the deposit may become evident simply through the process of bringing previously dispersed data together. So an author should not always feel required to produce new field work or laboratory analyses.

In most cases, however, it is a fairly simple matter to gather some original data together for inclusion in the article. Interviews with reliable collectors who have first-person experience at the mine can help to outline a collecting history. Examination of many specimens can yield conclusions on common habits and assemblages. Mineral exposures and veins remaining in place can be mapped or diagrammed. Museums and private collections can be scanned for exceptional specimens to describe.

A thorough study of a locality should ideally include an exhaustive listing of the mineral species present, and for some localities this may require some laboratory work. Sometimes the personnel at major museums and universities can be enlisted to perform the analyses at no charge, or a commercial analytical service can be employed for a fee. If not, and if the author does not have personal training and access to simple diagnostic equipment, the only alternative may be to search for a co-author who does. The same holds true for more detailed descriptive mineralogy such as goniometric measurements, X-ray crystallographic studies and electron microprobe analyses. These are valuable when they can be obtained, but are not necessarily essential. In any case, it should always be stated in the text how, and by whom, the various identifications and analyses were carried out.

Having done all this work, the author is, in the end, entitled (but not obliged) to make some deductions and formulate some conclusions of his own. He is in the best position to do so relative to previous authors who had less data to consider. The only warning to give here is that the author should be careful not to overstep the bounds of his expertise and background, or he may embarrass himself.

Specimen Photos
Like Oscar Wilde, we at the Mineralogical Record and our faithful readers have the simplest of tastes: we are easily satisfied with the best. Normally, this is not a problem for authors, except when it comes to specimen photos. Not only must the specimen itself be of top quality, but the technical and aesthetic aspects of the photo must also meet a high standard.

We demand top-quality specimens for illustrations because (1) such pieces best show mineralogical features such as habit, forms, associations, colors, etc., (2) they represent a standard of quality for the locality against which collectors and curators can compare their own specimens, and (3) they provide maximum aesthetic pleasure for the reader. A European subscriber once complained that the Mineralogical Record works too hard to show the best; instead, he said, we should show specimens of the quality which collectors can reasonably expect to be able to dig up at the locality or purchase from dealers for a nominal sum. Otherwise, the reader will become discouraged. Our response is that the purpose of the Mineralogical Record is not to foster satisfaction with one’s personal collection, but to provide information. Once one knows what the best looks like, it is a simple matter to visualize the mediocre; the reverse, however, is not possible. And in any case, personal satisfaction must come from within; the joy of gaining new knowledge is all that we can expect to offer the reader.

Therefore, the first task is simply to locate the best, or at least particularly fine, specimens. At this point I should mention that, as a service to authors, the editorial staff of the Mineralogical Record can sometimes arrange for some or all of the necessary specimens and photos. An author with a good text, lacking only photos, will not be rejected out of hand. In fact, in some cases we actually prefer to be allowed to prepare the photography ourselves, to assure that our standards are met.

Those authors wishing to provide at least some of the necessary specimen photography themselves should canvas the private and public collections available to them, then borrow the specimens or visit the owner for a photo session. If necessary the author should arrange for an experienced mineral photographer to help him out. With luck some photos already on file might be found, and custom work can be kept to a minimum. (We maintain a stock photo collection of over 3,000 mineral images in the editorial office, all of which are available as needed.) Authors should be aware that our selection criteria for specimens and photos are based solely on quality, not on ownership. If an author submits photos of specimens and the editorial staff is able to find better ones, then the better images will be used.

For cover photos, we must have 4 x 5-inch large-format transparencies because cover-size enlargements require the extra detail afforded by large-format photography. For the article itself, however, 35-mm color slides will do fine, for color work, and 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 black and white (B&W) glossy prints will suffice for the rest. Polaroid 4 x 5 prints and other odd sizes of B&W are permissible as well. We also accept digital images (in .jpg, .tif, .gif and ,psd formats), provided that the resolution is at least 300 dpi at the size to be published.

Once a mass of specimen photography has been gathered, the author may choose to send it all to the editor for a final selection. Editors prefer to do it that way…it is always better to receive too much rather than not enough. For a thorough discussion of techniques of specimen photography, and of what constitutes a technically satisfactory specimen photo, see Suggestions for Photographers, posted on this website.

Hand-drawn art depicting mineral specimens is also commonly used in the Mineralogical Record. But we generally restrict these to historical illustrations from the days before photography came into common use.

Locality Photos
In addition to specimen photos, at least one good photo of the locality itself is beneficial to an article. It gives the reader a visual frame of reference for the history, geology and so forth. Sometimes the most efficient course is simply to hike out to the locality, camera in hand, and shoot away. Try for a panorama of the general area and also close-ups of the important mine entrances, workings, buildings and outcrops. Pick a time of day when the sun is at a sufficient angle to cast shadows and show relief. Remember that views of the surrounding landscape as seen from the locality are far less valuable than views of the locality itself as seen from the surrounding area.

Antique or historical photos are almost always interesting and worthwhile when they can be found. Check with local museums, libraries and especially state and county historical societies. If they have photos, they will generally be happy to make you a copy print for a few dollars, and will usually waive reproduction fees when you point out to them that the Mineralogical Record is a nonprofit organization. Private collectors of mining memorabilia are also good sources. Repositories of more than local significance include the Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth, TX), the Denver Public Library Western History Department (Denver, CO), and the Library of Congress (Washington, DC). The U.S. Geological Survey Photo Library (MS 914, Box 25046, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225) maintains an enormous collection of photo negatives from U.S.G.S. publications going back many decades, and will have prints made for a modest fee.

Photos lifted directly from early mining journals generally do not reproduce well because of their primitive half-tone printing. However, from 1850 to 1890 the standard type of illustration was the high-quality engraving. These can be made to reproduce extremely well, provided that a professional lab can shoot the copy, or that the original print can be provided with the article. In those rare cases where a fine painting or other full-color artwork is available, we can sometimes use that too if a color slide or digital scan is provided.

Crystal Drawings
Crystals drawings are commonly included in locality articles. They can usually be taken directly from other journals and books and reproduced without written permission as long as proper credit is given and the original orientation maintained. Creating crystal drawings, drafted in the old way from raw crystallographic data, is a dying art and we are always pleased to see such illustrations. If not rigorously drafted according to the requirements of orthographic or clinographic projections they should be labeled as “sketches” rather than “crystal drawings.” If the drawings are computer-drafted they should be so labeled. If authors are unable to generate such drawings, the editorial staff has resources that can be drawn upon.

Maps and Diagrams
Maps are quite naturally of importance to a locality article. At least a simple location map should be provided, showing sufficient detail to allow a reader to go out and actually find the locality. A common question from authors who are writing about a currently producing new occurrence is “Do I have to pinpoint the locality?” Whereas it is true that doing so may result in some unwanted visitors, failing to do so will introduce a “lost locality” into the literature, and that is something we cannot allow. We all have a long-term responsibility to the science. So, yes, you must pinpoint the locality. If, on the other hand, the location of the mine or mines in question is already well described in previous literature, your map need not be quite so detailed as to show every pertinent cowpath and windmill.

Location maps should include a scale bar in kilometers, a north arrow, and perhaps a small inset map showing the main map area in relation to the state or country.

A geologic map is in some cases a useful illustration, but should exclude most extraneous detail not germane to the mineral occurrence itself. A map of the above-ground and underground workings, at least in the important mineralized areas, is usually an extremely valuable illustration and will endear the author to future generations of grateful field collectors and field-oriented mineralogists.

Paragenetic diagrams which illustrate, by a sort of horizontal bar graph, the relative times and durations of crystallization for different species in the assemblage are commonly included. These must be built up from a great many careful observations of overlapping relationships seen on hand specimens, micromounts and polished or thin sections. Such a diagram should not be drawn without a sizeable amount of data to back it up.

Eh-pH diagrams, purporting to show the evolution of the crystallochemical environment in terms of solution acidity and electrical potential, have fallen into disfavor in recent years, mainly because they lack credibility. The natural system is always far more complex in its variables than the diagram’s equations allow; and, in addition, there may have been numerous sub-environments and micro-environments in the deposit which each evolved differently (i.e. a lack of equilibrium).

All of the various types of maps and diagrams may be submitted as careful sketches, and the Mineralogical Record staff will be happy to draft and letter the final copies, if the author cannot. Photocopies of published maps with locations marked are easily redrafted. Diagrams and maps may be submitted in any size and will be resized as necessary for publication.

Some authors, particularly those for whom English is a second language, may feel insecure about their skill at technical writing. They should not be concerned. It is the editor’s job to correct any deficiencies in grammar and style. A clear presentation of the facts is all that is necessary; the editor can polish the prose. Authors who wish to be meticulous, however, should consult a good style manual as necessary (e.g. The Chicago Manual of Style, [U.S.] Government Printing Office Style Manual, Suggestions to Authors of the U.S. Geological Survey, etc.), and should also check the Suggestions for Authors and the Editing Conventions pages of this website.

Locality articles in the Mineralogical Record are all organized along similar lines. Each major section, however, is flexible and can contain a range of different types of data presented in different ways. This flexibility is necessary because every locality is unique in its own way; overall complexity and relative complexity of the different aspects vary widely from one locality to the next. Hence the overall lengths of articles and the relative lengths of the various sections and subsections will vary accordingly. Following are the principal subdivisions found in an average locality article:

The Lead
The “lead” is a brief statement about the most significant and interesting aspects of the locality. It is not an abstract or an introduction but more of a “teaser,” almost an advertisement, designed to convince the reader that the article is worth his time to read. Questions the reader wants answered here include: Is this a type locality? Is it still producing fine specimens? Are the specimens mineralogically interesting or aesthetically superior? Has the locality been productive over a long span of years? In short, does the subject of the article have “collector significance” in some way? Clearly the editor thinks so or he would not have accepted the article for publication. But the editor is obliged to read everything that comes across his desk; the subscriber tends to be more selective and sometimes needs convincing. In any case, it is quite permissible to allow the editor to prepare the lead. (Formal “Abstract” or “Summary” sections are rarely used.)

The Introduction
The “Introduction” typically contains basic information on location and access, collecting restrictions, perhaps a more detailed review of the significance of the locality, and in some cases a pertinent note on what caused the author to become interested in the locality in the first place. The purpose is to give the reader some initial perspective which will aid him in evaluating the information which follows. Most authors find that the introduction is the hardest section to write, because its tone needs to be slightly more conversational than the tone of the following sections.

The History Section
The “History” section can be one of the most interesting and even entertaining parts of the article. Readers lacking mineralogical expertise will commonly read this section in detail and merely skim the rest. Mineral collectors love a colorful history because it lends flavor and background to their specimens, and provides a context for understanding the deposit and its exploitation. Although some localities are vastly more endowed with interesting history than others, each usually offers at least a few points worth reporting.

The initial discovery is important to describe, and the succession of major owners and lessees, leading up to the current property holder, is worth listing or summarizing. Significant developments in mining techniques used, the sequential exploitation of various portions of the deposit (and corresponding production of specimens), and a brief review of the economic success or failure are typically covered. The history of mineralogical researches on mineral specimens from the deposit sometimes makes good reading as well.

Of particular interest to our readers is the collecting history, since this is an aspect unlikely to be covered in any other journal. Details regarding at least the more significant specimen discoveries made over the years are much appreciated and are important to have recorded in the literature. As mentioned earlier, the collecting history is an area in which even amateur authors can sometimes make a valuable, original contribution. Interesting notes and asides on local culture, mining life and the like fit here as well, and lend human interest.

Original quotes from people involved in the history of mining and collecting at the locality are particularly desirable. To hear the story in the words of the people who lived it gives an immediacy and clarity to historical events. Tales of important discoveries draw the reader in and help him visualize what it must have been like to be there at the time. Letters and tape-recorded interviews are the best sources for extended quotes.

The Geology Section
A review of the regional and local geology gives critical information necessary to a full understanding of the deposit. Uncommon jargon should be avoided or defined, and complexities unrelated to mineralization should be downplayed. There is no need, for example, to launch into a detailed petrologic/stratigraphic discussion of the country rocks except insofar as it is pertinent to ore genesis. Structures controlling ore deposition are important, but others are less so. Ages of faulting, intrusions and mineralization are worth noting. The details of the size, shape and extent of the orebody or mineralization zone must be included; the closer one gets, geologically, to the minerals, the more pertinent the information becomes. Gross trends in mineralization, assemblages, textures and zoning may be noted here. Theories on the origin of the deposit should be reviewed, including the most up-to-date work. Factors controlling the form and location of the mineralization, oxidation and enrichment, manner of emplacement, source and nature of the ore-forming or mineral-forming solutions, physical and chemical conditions of deposition, deposition and alteration sequences…all these things should be considered for inclusion. In some cases a classification of the deposit and a brief discussion of related deposits is also appropriate.
The Mine Workings Section
This is an optional section reserved for localities with complex or extensive workings. If the description is sufficiently brief it can be inserted within the history or introduction sections instead.

Descriptions of workings typically will include notes on the precise location of significant veins, discoveries or localized occurrences. However, safety aspects should not be ignored; dangerous areas should be identified as such, particularly if they contain tempting exposures of minerals.

Some articles are written to cover entire districts or mine groups. Every effort should be made to name and locate important mines, and to be as specific as possible in referring to their individual mineralogies. Potential areas of confusion, such as the merging or renaming of mines, should be clarified as much as possible.

The Minerals Section
In this section all of the species found at the locality (or at least those having some degree of “collector significance”) are discussed individually, usually in alphabetical order. Pertinent facts include rarity at the locality, environment, specific occurrences, crystal size range (metric units please), luster, habits, common crystal forms, colors, transparency, fluorescence, cleavage (if diagnostic), twinning, typical associations, uncommon assemblages and growth sequences. Chemical and crystallographic analyses can be summarized, with emphasis given to those that differ substantially from previously published data. Previous mineralogical studies should be referenced meticulously. Particular attention should be paid to species for which this is the type locality or one of the few known occurrences in the world.

This is another area where amateur authors can make important contributions: the description of specimens. It is likely that mineral collectors, on the average, actually see and handle far more specimens than do professional mineralogists. Therefore they are in a better position to make generalized descriptions provided they have sufficient command of the appropriate terminology and that they do not overstep their expertise in coming to conclusions.

Some discussion of collector aspects is appropriate here, including information on the appearance and disposition of the finest known specimens, current market availability, important discoveries and the habits that characterized them, and so on. Particular note should be made of any museums or private collections where comprehensive locality suites are kept.

As a matter of format, each species discussion should be headed by the species name and (on the same line) formula, using Fleischer’s Glossary of Mineral Species as the formula reference. The discussion, in complete sentences, should then begin on the next line.

Some localities are the focus of ongoing investigations for new mineral species. Privileged information from other researchers should not be included in a locality article without their written permission. Unpublished new mineral names should not be used prior to their acceptance by the International Mineralogical Association’s Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names. We further discourage the use of provisional names for minerals under study (e.g. “Mineral Z”), and prefer instead descriptive terms (e.g. “the unnamed manganese phosphate”). Varietal names should usually be avoided as well. For an interesting review of the process of characterizing and naming new mineral species see Dunn (1977).

Tables of various sorts are commonly included in the Minerals section, depending on the kinds of data to be presented. Every locality article should have a list summarizing all of the species known to occur there, including those not deemed significant enough to discuss in the text. Minerals from the surrounding country rock may be omitted if not relevant to the deposit. Inasmuch as the minerals are listed alphabetically in the text, the table of minerals can be arranged chemically.

The Discussion
It is sometimes most convenient to present all information before attempting to discuss speculations and theories or draw salient technical conclusions. If so, a “Discussion” section can be inserted following the “Minerals” section. Usually the topics of a “Discussion” section are ore genesis, paragenesis, unsolved problems, explanations for conflicting data, and so on.

The Conclusions
The “Conclusions” section in Mineralogical Record locality articles is usually reserved for comments on the prospects for future field discoveries, specimen production and locality accessibility. Comparisons with other important localities, from a collector standpoint, are also sometimes made.

The Acknowledgments
It is considered proper form in American publications to make note of the people who gave assistance during the preparation of the article. People who provided unpublished analytical, mineralogical, geological or historical data should be acknowledged unless they prefer not to be, and their institution or affiliation given. Mine personnel or landowners who provided cooperation and access during field work deserve equal recognition. Professional colleagues or acquaintances with whom you discussed puzzling or difficult aspects of the deposit and who offered useful insights, particularly if they reviewed the manuscript, might also be thanked. Those who have contributed more than 10% of the text might be invited to be coauthors. Library personnel who gave assistance above and beyond the call of duty might appreciate being mentioned. The owners of specimens pictured or studied and the photographers who donated their work are sometimes thanked even though their names have appeared in the figure captions. And, of course, if the work was financially supported by a grant the grantor should be acknowledged.

The Literature Listing
Several options are available with regard to the listing of pertinent literature at the end of the article. The list can be titled “References” if each and every entry has been referred to somewhere in the text. If the list is more comprehensive, including all references cited in the text plus many more that were not cited, it should be entitled “Bibliography.” These are the two most common choices. In very rare cases, the list might be entitled “Sources” (perhaps for a solely historical text), or “Suggested Reading” (for a short article of very wide scope). These latter two apply only when rigorous citations in the text are not used; since we prefer rigorous citations, we rarely use these formats.

The literature list should follow our usual format (see any recent issue for examples). In particular, all journal titles should be spelled out in full, with page numbers given. Author names should be all in capital letters. Book titles and journal titles should be italicized.

The Figure Captions List
The final part of any article is the figure captions list. Each caption should include full data, such as source for maps and diagrams, meaning of symbols, etc. Specimen photo captions should include (1) species name, (2) specimen type (e.g. “crystal,” “cluster,” “spherule”), (3) crystal size (metric units please), (4) locality, (5) specimen owner, (6) photographer, and any other pertinent data on the location or the mineralogical aspects. Photos provided by historical archives, libraries, private collections and the like should be so identified. Maps, diagrams and crystal drawings taken directly from a previous source should be noted as: (from Jones, 1985). Those that have been redrawn should be noted as: (after Jones, 1985) or (modified from Jones, 1985).

Incidentally, we discourage routine parenthetical text references to every figure. Each figure is usually placed adjacent to the appropriate text. But in many cases figures must be deleted or regrouped by the editor (especially when color printing is involved), and therefore renumbered. Fewer text references to correct means less chance for error.

Every author brings his own strengths and weaknesses to an article. Those areas where he is strong are the easiest for him to write about. By the nature of locality articles and their wide-ranging scope, however, there will invariably be sections where he is weak, and these will be more difficult. For first-time authors almost every section may seem difficult. There is a common fear among new authors that their article will be published unreviewed, and their mistakes and weaknesses held up to ridicule by the more experienced readers. Let me assure you that such is not the way at the Mineralogical Record. Because our reputation rides on each article as well, we work doubly hard to find qualified reviewers, to identify and help correct any technical problems, and to provide whatever assistance is necessary in the gathering of information and illustrations. In fact, I don’t know of any other journal which offers the range and depth of author support that we do. Our goal is to see that every article, regardless of any shortcomings if may have had when first received, is a fully realized and professionally sound document when published. The editorial staff works closely with the author on any suggested improvements or additions to be sure they meet with his approval.

A great many readers of the Mineralogical Record could produce valuable contributions to the mineralogical literature, but have thus far refrained from doing so. It is my hope that this guide will eliminate some barriers of uncertainty, and give potential authors the impetus to write about what they know and love.

My thanks to the editorial board of the Mineralogical Record, as well as to Carl Francis, Tom Gressman, Marie Huizing, Terry Huizing, Anthony Kampf, Gloria Ludlum, Tom Moore, Don Olson, John Sinkankas, Art Smith, John Sampson White, and L.V. and W.E. Wilson for reading the manuscript and providing many helpful comments. The concept of such a guide was first suggested by Don Olson (while in the throes of preparing his first article for the Mineralogical Record).


BISHOP, E.E. and ECKEL, E.B. (1978) Suggestions to Authors of the Reports of the United States Geological Survey. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 273 p.

CRANE, W.R. (1909) Index of Mining Engineering Literature. John Wiley, New York, 812 p.

DUNN, P.J. (1977)From unknown to known: the characterization of new mineral species. Mineralogical Record, 8, 341-349.

ECONOMIC GEOLOGY (1928-1965) Annotated Bibliography of Economic Geology. Vol. 1-38, published semi-annually by the Economic Geology Publishing Company, Urbana, Illinois.

GILL, J.O. (1978) Gill’s Index to Journals, Articles and Books Relating to Gems and Jewelry. Gemological Institute of America, Santa Monica, 420 p.

GOLDSCHMIDT, V. (1913-1923) Atlas der Krystallformen. Nine volumes, Carl Winters Universitätsbuchhandlung, Heidelberg.

HAZEN, R.M., and HAZEN, M.H. (1980) American Geological Literature, 1669-1850. Dowden, New York, 431 p.

HINTZE, C. (1889-) Handbuch der Mineralogie. In many volumes; after the death of Hintze in 1916 the work was carried on by others, the latest volume having been issued in 1974.(In German.)

JORDAN, L. (1976) The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. Times Books, New York, 231 p.

MANDARINO, J.A., and BACK, M.E. (2004) Fleischer’s Glossary of Mineral Species 2004. Ninth Edition.Mineralogical Record, Tucson, 309 p.

McCARTON, R.C., Chmn. (1984) United States Government Printing Office Style Manual. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 479 p.

McKELVEY, V.E. (1964) Publications of the Geological Survey, 1879-1961. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 457 p.

McKELVEY, V.E. (1972) Publications of the Geological Survey, 1962-1970.U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 586 p.

MASON, B. (1953) The Literature of Geology. Self-published (?), 155 p.; originally sold through the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

NICKLES, J.M. (1923-1924)Geological literature on North America, 1785-1918.Part I: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 746, 1167 p.Part II: Bulletin 747, 658 p. Subsequently continued by Nickles and others as the Bibliography of North American Geology, 1919-1928 (Bull. 823), 1929-1939 (Bull. 937), 1940-1949 (Bull. 1049), 1950-1959 (Bull. 1195), 1960 (Bull. 1196), 1961 (Bull. 1197), 1962 (Bull. 1232), 1963 (Bull. 1233), 1964 (Bull. 1234), 1965 (Bull. 1235), 1966 (Bull. 1266), 1967 (Bull. 1267), 1968 (Bull. 1268), 1969 (Bull. 1269), and 1970 (Bull. 1370).

NICKLES, J.M. et al. (1934-1986) Bibliography and Index of Geology Exclusive of North America; in 1969 was retitled Bibliography and Index of Geology. Vol. 1 (1933) through vol. 50 (1985), Geological Society of America and the American Geological Institute.

PALACHE, C., BERMAN, H., and FRONDEL, C. (1944, 1951) Dana’s System of Mineralogy. Volumes 1 and 2, seventh edition; John Wiley, New York, 834 p., 1124 p.

PEARL, R.M. (1951) Guide to Geological Literature. McGraw-Hill, New York, 239 p.

RIDGE, J.D. (1958)Selected bibliographies of hydrothermal and magmatic mineral deposits. Geological Society of America Memoir 75, 199 p.

RIDGE, J.D. (1968) Ore Deposits of the United States; 1933-1967. A.I.M.E., New York, 2 vols., 1880 p.

RIDGE, J.D. (1976) Annotated Bibliographies of Mineral Deposits in Africa, Asia and Australia. Pergamon Press, New York, 641 p.

RIDGE, J.D. (1981)Annotated bibliographies of mineral deposits in the Western Hemisphere. Geological Society of America Memoir 131, 681 p.

RIDGE, J.D. (1984) Annotated Bibliographies of Mineral Deposits in Europe. Part I;, Northern Europe and USSR. Pergamon Press, New York, 778 p.

SINKANKAS, J. (1959, 1976) Gemstones of North America. Vol. 1 and 2, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 675 p., 494 p.

SINKANKAS, J. (1981) Emerald and Other Beryls. Chilton, Radnor, 665 p.

SINKANKAS, J. (1997) Gemstones of North America. Vol. 3.Geoscience Press, Tucson, 526 p.

SMITH, A.E., Jr. (1986) A Bibliography of Books on Mining History. Privately published, 137 p.

SMITH, A.E., Jr. (1987)The collector’s library: minerals of the United States, update and additions. Mineralogical Record, 18, 211-227.

SMITH, A.E., and COOK, D.R. (1979)The collector’s library, part II: minerals of the United States. Mineralogical Record, 10, 13-28.

SPENCER, L. (1948)Catalogue of topographical mineralogies and regional bibliographies. Mineralogical Magazine, 28, 303-332.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS (1982) The Chicago Manual of Style. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 788 p.

WILSON, W.E. (1987)A photographer’s guide to taking mineral specimen photographs for the Mineralogical Record. Mineralogical Record, 18, 229-235.