Notes should be limited to news of classmates or other alumni associated with your class. Secretaries should not include their own (or other's) editorials, essays or poems. We do not include address changes (including email addresses) or telephone numbers for classmates. (Your column can reference that new contact info is available from the alumni office or via amherst.edu/alumni.) Donations for an Amherst scholarship or other Amherst college fund may be noted in class notes. However, the College's nonprofit status prohibits it from including solicitations for other charitable organizations.
News should be of reasonable length and of an informative nature and should appeal to your entire class. Please avoid innuendos, slurs, inside jokes or personal messages. Remember that your column will be read by a broad audience—classmates, parents, grandparents, siblings, Williams alumni, perhaps even patients in an Amherst doctor's waiting room. Please do not cut and paste entire letters, articles or news releases; instead, digest or summarize them (this will also help you stay within your word limit). Use your class webpage for longer documents and for posting photos.
Your classmates will appreciate a secretary who knows the personality of the class. But do not be ashamed of class notes that sound like class notes. Providing news is your primary goal. Your classmates want to hear about each other.
Confirmation of News
Occasionally, we will hear from a classmate who is upset about news he or she did not want published or information that was reported inaccurately. The one sure way to avoid this is to confirm news that does not come to you directly from the classmate. This will make the news more engaging; you can find out, for example, why he/she moved to Boston. Think about your sources and the classmate being mentioned. Please also confirm with classmates before reprinting information from social media. When in doubt, reconfirm.
The Definition of a "Mention"
A “mention” in your notes is the news of any classmate, whether a detailed paragraph or a brief update. A name in a list (attendees at a wedding or dinner, for example) without substantive news attached will not count as a mention. Classmates mentioned as reunion attendees with no news attached will not count as mentions. All classmates’ full names should be in bold typeface (See Formatting and Helpful Hints).
We hope your column will include detailed news that is of broad interest, such as news about job changes, places of residence, marriages, births, new educational plans and other specifics about your classmates’ lives.
You should be aware not only of classmates who remain unmentioned but also of those who send news frequently, such as: “Finished first semester law school,” “Finished second semester law school,” etc. We encourage secretaries to use prudence in deciding when and how often a classmate’s news should be printed.
Each secretary has a base of 250 words per column for an introduction, a conclusion and/or between-mention commentary. In addition, you have an average of 70 words per classmate you mention, up to 2,500 words for all classes.
Your goal is to include news of every member of your class at least once every five years, and to do so concisely, with an appreciation of the space constraints inherent in a print magazine. The average length of a set of class notes is 1,000 words. The vast majority of submissions fall well below 2,500 words. When we receive submissions that are significantly longer than average, we have less space available for news and feature content in the rest of the magazine. To minimize this issue, and to allow for advance planning of the magazine's layout, we ask you to keep your class notes to a maximum of 2,500 words per issue. (The 70-words-per-mention rule still applies.) Submissions longer than 2,500 words will be sent back to the class secretary for editing. If the class secretary has difficulty meeting the 2,500 word limit, our office will do the editing for space before they are published in the magazine, but remember that class notes of any length can be posted to the class webpage. When editing, we will never completely remove a classmate's mention. Instead, we will shorten mentions to reach the acceptable word count.
A mention must include both a name and at least one substantive piece of news. A list of 12 wedding attendees, for example, will not count as 12 individual mentions, unless there is substantive news about each person.
Remember that the 70-word rule is an average: You are free to include longer reports about some classmates as long as they are balanced out with shorter mentions. (On a computer, word counts are easily available through the "Tools" or "Review" menu in MS Word). Since you should bold each classmate's full name, they are easy to count. One easy way to cut down on space is to digest news rather than quoting it directly.
The notes are proofread by a professional editor. We try to avoid substantial changes to your text. We follow AP style and will edit for consistency, accuracy, clarity and length.
The magazine does not include photographs, which may be sent to you by classmates, in the class notes. Instead, we encourage alumni to post photographs on the Class News section of your class webpage.
In the rare instance that you are not able to prepare notes for an upcoming issue, you can designate a classmate to cover for you. Please notify your alumni office liaison in advance.
Posting Your Class Notes Online
Given the lag time between when you submit your notes and when the magazine is mailed, we encourage you to post class notes on your class webpage and to notify the class whenever a new batch of notes is posted. If you'd like to learn how to post your notes, please contact your alumni office liaison. If you do not post the notes, the alumni office will, but it will be at a later time.