How Do I E-mail Clips?

Q: When a publication requests e-queries and clips, how do you e-mail the clips?
—Nannette Croce

A: Sending clips via e-mail can be difficult. You can try scanning the images, but that sometimes blurs the words and makes the piece illegible. You can copy text into a word processing document and send it, but that doesn’t prove the piece you’re submitting has been published. So what can you do?

First, check to see if the publisher of your work has ever posted it on its website. If so, it may have your work archived. All you have to do from here is copy the link into your e-query and your worries are gone. But what if they don’t archive stories online?

Most magazines, newspapers, newsletters and other types of writing mediums use computer programs to lay out the work and then save that work as a PDF—Portable Document Format. PDFs are the standard format for distribution and exchange of electronic files. In other words, they can be easily e-mailed and accessed whether you’re using a PC or a Mac.

If you don’t have the PDFs of your work already, call the magazine or newspaper that published it and request that they send you the electronic versions. Most media outlets keep archives of all their work, but it’s only been within the past 10 years that technology has led to electronic archiving. The older the clip, the tougher it might be to get. But once you get the PDF of your work, you can send it to anyone through your e-mail.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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0 thoughts on “How Do I E-mail Clips?

  1. Barry Michaels

    To me, this is one reason it’s important for a writer to have a website.

    It’s particularly easy if you have work that is already posted elsewhere; in that case, you can simply link to it on your own site. But if not, you can also post any of your own previously published work directly on a page of your site. (This presumes, of course, you’ve only sold first rights, which seems to me usually to be the case, or, if you’ve sold all rights, I suspect it will rarely be difficult to get permission to print your own work on your own website).

    Then, when you need to present clips in an e-mail query, simply refer the recipient to your website, complete with link embedded in the e-mail. Doing this has made e-mail queries and proposals easier for me many times.

  2. Monica Poling

    Hey Bryan–

    Great topic. Just wanted to pitch in my own two cents.

    Speaking for my magazine, I know that we don’t always have the time to email all the freelancers we work with copies of the .PDFs of their stories. If you do request a PDF from a magazine you’ve worked with, keep in mind these two things that will help your editor:

    Please know and reference the issue date your story appeared in, the page number and the title when you ask for a PDF. You probably have zero chance of getting a PDF if you don’t make it easy for the editor to find your story.

    Also, please keep in mind that magazines often only have hi-resolution PDFs of the story. They don’t always convert those into a lower resolution, so you may end up having to send an extremely high resolution one- or two-page document, which might cause aggravation for the editor you’re pitching.

    It is best practice to start requesting and getting your contributor copies and scan a PDF copy of your story right away. Keeping those in an easy to reach file will help you down the line. Even if the editors you’ve worked with want to help, they may not be able to get back to you right away, and you’d hate to lose a new, potential editor, because you didn’t have that info at your finger tips.

    My goodness, how I’ve run on. Sorry for the length.

  3. diane


    I have also wondered about this but have another question. I do a great deal of web content writing for others’ websites. Is this considered a "clip" and, if so, not always having the website it is used for, how do I include it? Same ? regarding ghost writing. Lastly, if no PDF is available is the only option to send via snail mail the clips and reference that in the emial query? Thanks for all the helpful info.



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