Journals, magazines and newspapers

Journals, magazines and newspapers are known as ‘periodicals’. Periodicals are published at regular intervals, so they are sometimes called ‘serials’. Number each issue of a serial and include other publication information so people can find it.

Include all parts of the periodical

Periodicals get published at regular times. Each issue of a periodical is complete but also part of a set or volume. Most periodicals are online. Some no longer have a print version. 

Because each issue is complete in itself, you must include the following:

  • title
  • year, volume and issue number
  • name of the sponsoring body
  • name of the publisher or distributor or both
  • copyright details
  • restrictions on circulation
  • International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).

Add more details for journals

Journals are periodicals used to present research findings or industry knowledge. The audience includes specialists or people with an interest in the field. It is common for journals to peer-review research before publication.

As well as the parts listed for periodicals, it is usual for each article in a journal to have:

  • the title and author details
  • an abstract
  • references as footnotes, endnotes or a list of references
  • a document object identifier (DOI)
  • extra material useful for the content.

Consider accessible formats

Online periodicals often have their own websites. The home page should have:

  • the periodical’s branding and contact details
  • the names of the editors
  • the aim of the periodical
  • information for authors on how to submit articles
  • details on how to subscribe.

Each online issue of a periodical usually has a landing page and a series of articles.

Consider using EPUB, which is an accessible eBook format that users can read on mobile devices. You can convert Microsoft Word files to EPUB format using the WordToEPUB tool.

If there is a strong user need to provide a PDF (for example for printing), the document must still be accessible.

Printed periodicals and periodicals published online as PDF have covers. If the periodical shows page numbers, use odd numbers for the right-hand pages.

Accessibility considerations

User needs:  

For a comprehensive list, refer to the overview on accessibility.

You must make all government content accessible to people with disability. This is part of Australian law under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Guidance on EPUB and PDF accessibility:

Copyright and legal deposit requirements

You must choose a licence to release copyright materials. If you work in government, use an open access license if you can (for example, Creative Commons).

Read the government copyright rules in the Australian Government intellectual property manual.

The National Library of Australia collects Australian publications under the Copyright Act 1968. Your agency is obliged to contribute publications through legal deposit. Find out more about legal deposit on the National Library website. This information covers online annual reports, which are serials.

Group issues into volumes

Both digital and print periodicals can group issues into volumes. There’s usually a volume for each calendar year. Each volume has its own title page, contents list and index.

In print and PDF periodicals, start each new volume at page 1. Number the pages of the issues so they continue from one issue to the next, throughout the volume.

Separate covers

Some online journals have the cover and publishing information as a separate download. This is often called ‘front matter’. Others keep the entire issue as a stand-alone download.

Print considerations

If the issue has a cover, it will be removed when the issues are put into volumes:

  • Include the title, date of issue, International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) and sponsoring body on the outside front cover of the volume.
  • Repeat all of this information, except for the ISSN, on the first page with the rest of the essential information, such as copyright and any restrictions on circulation.

The first page might also contain a contents list, and the final pages might contain an index.

No separate covers (newspapers and websites)

Newspapers and magazines are examples of periodicals without separate covers. Some periodicals have a print and digital version. Others are online only.

Digital-only content is archived by date or other metadata such as topic. The print conventions of binding and page numbers don’t apply. Archive the articles so people can find them.

Print considerations

Put the publication details for each issue on the cover page. Include:

  • the title
  • the publishing date
  • the sponsoring body
  • the volume and part number (if any).

Put this extra information on page 2 (with the contents list) or the back page:

  • the name of the printer, publisher, distributor or agent
  • the editorial address
  • subscription rates.

Start each issue of a periodical without a separate cover from page 1. Include the title, date and page number at the top or bottom of the page.

Information management requirements

Articles, journals and other serials that you create for the Australian Government become records. Records provide evidence of what your organisation has done and why.

Managing and disposing of records properly is a requirement under the Archives Act 1983. You must follow your organisation’s information management requirements. Visit the National Archives of Australia website for information management standards.

Apply for identifying numbers for your periodical

The National Library of Australia has information about how to apply for identifying numbers for your periodical.

Identifying numbers are a unique way to locate the work. They include:

  • International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)
  • International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSNs), if the periodical is part of a series.

ISSNs are a unique way to locate the work. Use separate ISSNs for a digital periodical and a print periodical, even if they look the same.

For digital-only content, you must publish 5 articles before you can apply for an ISSN.

Your periodical may also be eligible for a cataloguing statement approved by the National Library’s Prepublication Data Service.

Explain how to access datasets and extra material

Periodicals can include material that is useful but too detailed to have in the text. To include it would interrupt the flow of reading.

In digital periodicals, material includes:

  • audio and video
  • code
  • datasets.

Both printed and digital periodicals must tell their users how to access extra material. Online periodicals use a hyperlink in most cases. Printed periodicals need to tell people how to access this material if it is not in the appendices.

The United States National Information Standards Organization has recommended practices for online supplemental journal article material.

Release notes

The digital edition focuses on online periodicals. It calls out relevant considerations for periodicals that are produced in print.

The section in the sixth edition on periodicals dealt only with print-based periodicals.

The Content Guide did not mention periodicals.

About this page


Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (2019) Inclusive publishing in Australia: an introductory guide, Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative, accessed 25 May 2020.

American Psychological Association (2019) Journal coverage information for publishers, APA website, accessed 19 October 2019.

Anderson K (6 February 2018) ‘Focusing on value: 102 things journal publishers do (2018 update)’, The Scholarly Kitchen, accessed 19 October 2019.

Cochran A (4 August 2016) ‘Nuts and bolts: the super long list of things to do when starting a new journal’, The Scholarly Kitchen, accessed 19 October 2019.

ISSN International Centre (n.d.) Understanding the ISSN, ISSN International Centre website, accessed 21 May 2020.

Johnson R, Watkinson A and Mabe M (2018) The STM Report. An overview of scientific and scholarly publishing [PDF 4.2MB], 5th edn, International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, accessed 19 October 2019.

National Information Standards Organization (n.d.) Supplemental journal article materials, NISO website, accessed 19 October 2019.

W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) (2020) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) overview, W3C website, accessed 25 May 2020.

This page was updated Thursday 28 April 2022.

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