PAS Memo Contributor Guidelines

PAS Memo is a bimonthly online publication of APA's Planning Advisory Service released the first week of alternating months, beginning with January. The audience for PAS Memo is all 40,000-plus APA members and staff of PAS-subscribing organizations. Individual articles may be purchased as digital PDF downloads by nonmembers for $10. Memo is available online as an HTML page as well as in PDF format.


Each PAS Memo article should provide a detailed description of a planning-related topic for an audience of practicing planners. Authors should focus on innovative or cutting-edge planning topics, though new looks at evergreen subjects are also good choices. Articles should aim to answer the questions "Why is this important for planners to know about?" and "What do planners need to know to get started on implementing this information in their community?" Authors should use case study examples to illustrate the topic and provide actionable steps for planners.

In-house staff review and edit articles. APA maintains copyright to all PAS Memo articles. APA offers an author stipend of $500 per article.


Article proposals are welcomed. Proposals should provide a "mission statement" for the proposed article — what is the intent or mission of the article? — and describe the topic, why the topic is important for planners to know about, and how the article will provide actionable information on that topic for practicing planners). Authors should also prepare an initial outline for the article (see sample outline below).

Once a proposal is accepted, the author will sign an agreement to prepare a manuscript for publication and a copyright form for the article and any images. The APA staff editor and author will determine a mutually acceptable publication date for the article. Typically, a final outline is due at least four months and the draft manuscript at least two months before the publication date.

Article Format

Each article should include the following components, totaling between 3,500 and 5,500 words:

  • An introduction that introduces the topic and outlines the content and structure of the article. No header is needed here.
  • The body of the article. This should begin with a "background" section that provides more in-depth information about the topic of the article, and then provide additional sections of content covering what planners need to know about this topic. Authors should use case study examples to illustrate the topic; this could be through a separate case study section focusing on one case, or by using multiple, briefer examples throughout the discussion. Authors should use A- and B-level heads to organize the discussion and guide the reader through the information provided.
  • An "action steps for planners" section that provides actionable recommendations or "next steps" for planners to address the topic of the article in their community. It should answer the question, "What should I do if I want to implement this information in my community?" This can include resources to seek out, tools to use, other staff or professionals to collaborate with, or other recommendations. This section may be in narrative or bullet-point form.
  • A conclusion that ties together the article.
  • A 2–3 sentence "About the Author" section providing a brief author bio.
  • A "References and Resources" section that lists resources cited in the article, websites embedded in the article text, and additional resources that might be of interest on the topic. This can also be broken out into two sections, "References" and "Resources."

Sidebars may be used to provide additional case study examples, list resources, provide document excerpts, or for other uses.

Artwork (photos or graphics) should be used to illustrate the article. Files should be provided separately; use callouts in the manuscript to indicate placement and provide captions and credits.


In addition to text, each article will include artwork, such as tables, charts, and photographs, as appropriate, to support the story. Authors should provide caption and credit information for each piece of artwork.

The author must either hold the copyright to the images provided or obtain permission to use the provided images from the copyright holder. APA requires that the author obtain full rights to use the art for the article. The copyright for the art will then be transferred to APA as a nonexclusive right for use in PAS Memo. APA will provide artwork copyright permissions forms for authors to use in obtaining appropriate use rights.

Artwork must be submitted electronically in graphic file format, at least 1,000 pixels wide, and in color, if possible. Avoid images with small embedded text, as text tends to be unreadable when images are resized for the web. All graphics must be submitted individually in a graphics or PDF file format (.pdf, .jpg, .png, .gif).

References and Resources

Depending on the number of in-text citations used, authors may create separate References and Resources sections, or may combine the two. PAS Memo's electronic format makes a list of links to online resources for planners especially useful. Authors may provide a list of additional resources beyond those referenced in the article providing further information on the subject to the reader.

APA reference style is based on parenthetical author-date Chicago Manual of Style reference style; please convert footnotes if used to in-text citations. Alphabetize the list of references by author's last name. Include a URL if the resource is available online. For example:

Bochner, Brian, Kevin Hooper, Benjamin Sperry, and Robert Dunphy. 2011. NCHRP Report 684: Enhancing Internal Trip Capture Estimation for Mixed-Use Developments. Washington, D.C.: National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Transportation Research Board. Available at

Duerksen, Christopher J. 1996. "Key Legal Issues in Performance Standards and Zoning." Chapter 7 in Performance Standards for Growth Management, edited by Douglas R. Porter. Planning Advisory Service Report No. 461. Chicago: American Planning Association.

Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project (FRESP). 2012. "Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project (FRESP)." Available at

For more information on submitting an article for PAS Memo, please contact Ann Dillemuth, PAS Memo editor, at

Sample Memo Outline

(based on "An Introduction to Community Branding," July/August 2013)

<Title>An Introduction to Community Branding

<byline>By Tripp Muldrow, AICP

  1. [Introductory paragraphs]
    1. Brief – what is branding?
    2. Value of branding to planners
    3. Outline of Memo content/structure
  1. The Pitfalls of Community Branding
    1. Trap 1: "committee" competitions – avoid; engage community
    2. Trap 2: cliche – avoid; use local history to tell today's story
  1. Why Brand Your Community?
    1. Gives community a voice
    2. Tells local identity
    3. Example: Pacolet, SC
    4. Creates toolbox

[sidebar: Brand Elements and How to Use Them]

  1. How to Brand a Community: Lessons from Across the Country
    1. Staunton, Virginia
    2. Saco and Biddeford, Maine
    3. Starkville, Mississippi
  1. What Planners Can Do: Action Steps
    1. Bullet point action steps - 5

[sidebar: Conducting a Branding Charrette]

  1. Conclusion
    1. Wrap up

[Total length of manuscript = 3,500 – 5,500 words]

<A head>About the Author

[provide 2–3 sentence bio.]

<A head>References and Resources

[List full citations for all references cited in the text, and list all resources embedded within the text of the article. Also, provide full citations for additional resources on the topic that may be of interest.]