Nov 21, 2018 Last Updated 6:53 AM, Nov 20, 2018

Inside Indonesia Style Guide

Inside Indonesia Style Guide for Authors and Proofreaders

This Style Guide is designed to help make your writing experience as enjoyable and trouble-free as possible. Read it carefully before you begin to write and check your manuscript against it before you send it in. If you have queries that are not covered in the Style Guide, contact your editor for advice.

Please note that Inside Indonesia does not publish material that has already been published. By submitting the article to Inside Indonesia, you grant to Inside Indonesia a non-exclusive perpetual license to reproduce, modify, publish and communicate your article in Inside Indonesia in any format.

You retain the copyright of your article except when it is reproduced directly from Inside Indonesia (for example in university teaching packs). You are free to reproduce your article elsewhere, as long as you acknowledge that it was first published in Inside Indonesia.

Download complete Inside Indonesia Style Guide

General guidelines

  • The main thing to remember is that you are writing for a general audience. Don’t try to cover everything – try to interest readers so they want to find out more about your subject. It is a good idea to read a number of Inside Indonesia articles before starting to write so that you have a sense of the genre (the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of an Inside Indonesia article).
  • Aim for a senior secondary school reading level so that your article is accessible to all. If you are writing an article about a subject you have worked on in an academic context, you need to be particularly aware of the differences between academic and magazine writing style. Don’t try to adapt an academic text directly.
  • A good magazine article focuses on one main story. Pick an ‘angle’ that would be interesting to readers (consult with your editor if you are having trouble with this), then sit down with a blank piece of paper and just write (imagine you’re telling someone the story). You can always slot in factual material later.
  • Inside Indonesia articles are generally between 800 and 1600 words long. Occasionally longer articles (up to 3000 words) are published. These articles require special consideration on submission. If you are planning to submit a longer article please mention this in your email pitch. Remember, longer articles also require more images.
  • Be consistent by saying the same thing in the same way throughout the article. This makes for a cleaner, clearer, more professional manuscript.
  • Keep sentences short. Use active (subject-verb-object) rather than passive sentence structures. Avoid excessive adjectives and jargon. Avoid repetition. Sentences should not lose the reader and avoid multiple sub-clauses – generally a maximum of three lines per sentence. Do not include footnotes or references and do not put pages numbers on your article.
  • After your manuscript has been submitted, your editor will work with you to maximise the impact of your article. Most of the time articles require significant rewriting, so keep an open mind.
  • Once that process is completed, your article will need to be approved for publication by Inside Indonesia’s editorial committee. If required, your editor will provide you with feedback and help you make any final changes necessary before the article is accepted for publication.

Photos and graphics

  • Provide several photos or graphics to be considered for publication. The longer the article, the more images it can absorb.
  • Good images are very important to the look of the website. Make sure images have good composition, definition and contrast. Remember, it will be easier for you to find suitable images, because you know the topic.
  • Photos should be in .jpg format and charts, cartoons & other line graphics should be in .gif format. As a general rule, they should be around 1 MB size per image (we will crop and resize as necessary). Be sure to provide both captions and credits with each image (but be aware that your editor may change the captions).

Non-sexist language

Use gender-neutral terms wherever possible, for example, police officers (not policemen).

Spelling and standard translations and terms

  • Inside Indonesia uses Australian spelling. That includes 's' instead of 'z' (organisation, not organization), kilometres (not kilometers) and travelling (not traveling). Select ‘Australian English’ from your word processor’s dictionary and do a spell check
    before you submit your draft.
  • Use Indonesian language expressions sparingly, and translate them. Where possible, use an English word or phrase. If you must use an Indonesian word or phrase, put the Indonesian first then the English translation in brackets, then use the Indonesian in the rest of the text. Do not use italics. Make sure your translations are consistent.
  • Inside Indonesia uses the following standard transliterations: syariah, hadith, Qur'an (not Koran), Sunnah (the normative practice or codes based on the hadith), fikih and zakat.
  • Use district (not regency) for kabupaten, and sub-district for kecamatan; district head (not regent) for bupati and sub-district head for camat.
  • Use Suharto (not Soeharto), Jusuf Kalla (not Yusuf Kalla), PDIP (not PDI-P)
  • Inside Indonesia uses the following standard translations. It is not necessary to expand the Indonesian versions of acronyms.
    - For MPR use People's Consultative Assembly.
    - For DPR use People's Representative Council. It is also appropriate to use the generic
    term 'parliament'.
    - For DPRD use Regional Peoples' Representative Council. It is also appropriate to use
    'regional parliament'.
    - For DPD use Regional Representative Council.
  • Both Papua and West Papua may be used to refer to the province formerly known as Irian Jaya. The region is made up of two provinces: Papua and West Papua. West Papua is the term usually preferred by Papuan nationalists. Usage in Inside Indonesia might reflect which perspective is being expressed.
  • References to legislation should appear in the following form: Law No. 24/2003.
  • Use Southeast Asia not South East Asia.


  • Titles of books, films and works of art should use maximum capitalisation, i.e. all words, except for small joining words, are in capitals. For example, Fluid Iron: State Formation in Southeast Asia (not Fluid iron: state formation in Southeast Asia).
  • Indonesian titles of books and works of art should be followed by the English translation in brackets e.g. Perkenankan Aku Menjelaskan Sebuah Takdir (Permit Me to Describe a Destiny).
  • The names of government departments and other official entities, organisations and companies take capitals, for example, the Department of Education, the Attorney General’s Office, World Vision, and Indonesian National Shipping (PELNI).
    - Use lower case when referring to the generic elements of these entities, for example,
    ‘the department’ (not the Department), ‘the court’ (not ‘the Court’), and the ‘the commission’ (not ‘the Commission’).
  • The names of government bills and laws take capitals, for example, the Special Autonomy Bill, the Human Rights Law.
    - Use lower case when referring to the generic elements so ‘the bill’ (not ‘the Bill’),
    the law (not ‘the Law’).
  • Use a capital when referring to the Indonesian Constitution as a specific entity, for example, ‘According to the Constitution, all Indonesian citizens have the right to an education’.
    - Use lower case when referring to the generic element, for example ‘constitutional
    rights’. ‘The Cabinet’ (as a specific entity) also takes a capital, for example, ‘On Tuesday the Cabinet met to discuss the new bill’ but ‘The president said that a new cabinet would be sworn in as soon as possible’.
  • Use capitals for academic disciplines, for example Southeast Asian Studies, Classics and World Religions, Anthropology, Indonesian Studies.
  • Use Indonesian government (not Indonesian Government).
  • Use reformasi (not Reformasi).


  • Indonesian words are not italicised.
  • The titles of books/films etc should appear in italics. 


  • In Australian English, a comma is generally not used before ‘and’ or ‘or’ in a list (for example, ‘John, Elena and Warren came to lunch.’) except where leaving it out would cause ambiguity.
  • Use an unspaced en-dash (–) to link words that retain separate identities (cost–benefit, parent–child, Australia–Indonesia).
    - In prose, write ‘to’ rather than use a dash to indicates spans of time or distance, e.g. March to August (not March–August) and Melbourne to Sydney (not Melbourne– Sydney).
  • Use a spaced en-dash (–) to introduce an amplification or explanation (She arrived late – her usual train had been cancelled.) and set apart parenthetic elements (Inside Indonesia uses a spaced en-dash – not an em-dash – within text).
  • Use a hyphen to make certain compound words, to attach prefixes (and occasionally, suffixes) to words. E.g. city-state, cold-call, government-owned, three-year-old, post-war.) Check the Macquarie Dictionary or the Oxford Concise Australian Dictionary if you are unsure whether a word should be hyphenated. Do not use a hyphen (-) instead of an unspaced dash (–).
  • Use single quotation marks (‘...’) not double (“...”) in most cases. Only use double quotation marks for quotes within quotes.
  • When quoting, put the full stop;
    - inside the quote marks when there is no carrier expression (‘Indonesia’s hard to get your head
    around because there are so many different cultures and languages.’)
    - after the quote mark when there is a carrier expression (She paused and said ‘Indonesia’s hard
    to get your head around’.) or the quote is part of another sentence (It seemed that confessed terrorists could walk out of jail on a ‘mere technicality’.)

Shortened forms

  • Do not use abbreviations. Write road or street (not rd or st), for example, (not e.g.);
    therefore (not i.e.), Mount (not Mt), kilogram (not kg). Percentages must be written as two words (per cent, not % or percent).
    - Abbreviations are only to be used for currencies. Use A$15 (not AUD), US$20 (not USD), Rp.20,000 (not Rupiah or rupiah). Do not put a space between the currency sign and the amount, and use commas where appropriate (not spaces or full stops).
  • Use a full stop in abbreviations that don’t end with the same letter, for example No. for Number. For abbreviations where the end letter is still present, there is no need to use a full stop, for example Dr for Doctor.
  • Write nineteenth (not 19th) and twentieth (not 20th). For example, ‘In the nineteenth century...’ (not ‘In the 19th century...’)
  • If you are using an Indonesian acronym, write the acronym, then the English translation in brackets, for example, the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party).
    - Do not use full stops between the letters in acronyms. Write PKI (not P.K.I.).
    - All letters in acronyms should appear in capitals, for example, WALHI (not Walhi).

Numbers and dates

  • Spell out numbers under 10, for example, seven. For 10 and above, use the figures, unless the sentence begins with a number.
  • Do not use full stops when writing the time. Write it as one word, for example, 10am, 3pm.
  • Decades (for example, in the 1970s) do not have an apostrophe.
  • Do not use a comma in four-digit numbers, for example, 1824. Numbers with five or
    more digits take a comma, for example, 10,809 or 100,307.
  • Dates should be in Australian style, for example, 24 October 2004 (not October 24, 2004).
  • For currencies, use A$15 (not AUD), US$20 (not USD), Rp.20,000 (not Rupiah or rupiah). Do not put a space between the currency sign and the amount, and use commas where appropriate (not spaces or full stops). Give the Australian dollar equivalent the first time a rupiah amount is used (after that there is no need to put in the conversions).


  • Articles should be presented in a word document, single line spacing in Times New Roman 11.
  • Do not bold any headings or subheadings.
  • Titles of articles, precedes and sub-headings should be in ‘sentence case’ (capital letter for
    first word. Subsequent words – except names – in lower case).
  • Use a single space after full stops and colons.
  • Ensure that there is a full line (i.e. two hard enters/returns) between paragraphs.
  • Links to Websites should appear in brackets.
  • Email addresses should appear in curved brackets. Delete all hyperlinks from copy, and do not underline or use <>.
  • Send your article to your editor by email. Be sure to provide both captions and credits for each image.

Names and titles

  • Always put a person’s title first and their name second, for example, ‘The Governor of Jakarta, Sutiyoso’
  • Avoid honorifics such as “Ms.” or “Mister”. For example; at first mention the person is referred to as Megawati Soekarnoputri. If the person is Indonesian, use their common- use name after that, for example, Megawati. If the person is from America, Australia or Europe, use their surname on second mention, unless you’re telling a personal story about them.
  • For Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: when first mentioning him, use ‘Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or SBY,...’. All subsequent times within the same article, use ‘SBY’.
  • For Joko Widodo: when first mentioning him, use ‘Joko Widodo, or Jokowi,...’. All subsequent times within the same article, use ‘Jokowi’.
  • Titles such as chairperson, secretary general, governor, mayor, district head, commander and general should take a capital when they are part of a person’s title, for example, ‘General Wiranto said yesterday...’.
    - When they are not part of a person’s title use lower case, for example, ‘The mayor
    of Surabaya ...’.
  • Academic titles such as associate professor and professor take a capital letter when they are part of a person’s title. For example, ‘Associate Professor David Reeve coordinates the Indonesian studies program at the University of New South Wales’.
    - When they are not part of a person’s title, they should be written in lower case. For
    example, ‘Elizabeth Fuller Collins is an associate professor in classics and world religions at Ohio State University’.
  • Use capitals when referring to the heads of countries, for example, ‘President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said yesterday that...’, ‘Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met with ...’.
    - Use lower case when the title appears without the name, for example, ‘However, the
    president also said ...’. Use lower case when referring to former presidents, for example, ‘The bill was introduced under former president Megawati Soekarnoputri...’.
    - Use vice president (not vice-president).
  • Capitals should also be used when referring to government ministers, for example, ‘On his arrival in Jakarta, he was met by Indonesian Minister of Defence Juwono Sudarsono...’
    - Use lower case when the title appears without the name, with the exception of the
    Attorney General, which should also appear in capitals.
  • If there is more than one spelling for a person’s name, use the most common spelling and put the alternative spelling in brackets at the first usage of the name in the article, for example, ‘Kahar Muzakkar (also spelled Qahhar Mudzakkar)’. Use the most common spelling in the rest of the article.
  • Do not use full stops with initials in personal names, for example, Sari P Setiogi (not Sari P. Setiogi). Where there are two initials, place them together without a space, for example, SP Setiogi (not S P Setiogi).
  • Names such as Abdul and Mohammad should not be abbreviated.



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Thank you for your interest in volunteering for Inside Indonesia!

As a completely volunteer-run magazine we rely on the support of people like you to produce our magazine and to keep our website up to date. Every volunteer has some special relationship with Indonesia, although not everyone speaks Indonesian. Being completely voluntary means we have limited resources available to train and supervise volunteers. Consequently we can only accept volunteers who have prior experience and are able to work under minimal supervision.

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If we are able to find a task that meets your interest and experience we will be in touch.

Write for us

Inside Indonesia welcomes contributions. Please read the Inside Indonesia Style Guide and then contact our commissioning editor to pitch your idea.

Why write for Inside Indonesia?

  • A unique format Inside Indonesia offers a format that differs both from daily news reportage and the typical academic journal. Many of our writers are academic researchers who want to write about an aspect of their research in a digestible and immediate way. Few other media dedicated to Indonesia offer this service.
  • Quality and reputation - Inside Indonesia has a long history and is well-respected. We strive to maintain high editorial standards. Every author works with a member of our team of editors, and all articles are submitted for review prior to publication.
  • Immediacy - There is very little delay between submission of good quality articles and publication. If you have a burning issue to communicate, Inside Indonesia could be the place for you.
  • ReachInside Indonesia has tens of thousands of unique visits per month. All articles on the site are available free of charge, as are our archives of back issues. Once an article is on our site, it is there for good.
  • Since 2015 select articles in Inside Indonesia are translated into French and published on - a portal for information on Francophone Southeast Asia.

Who can write for us?

We accept articles from a diverse range of people – academics, journalists, students, travelers, NGO activists and people who have an interest in Indonesia. What is important is that you have something to say about Indonesia.

We cannot pay you for your contribution – your reward is the pleasure it brings to our readers.

What types of contributions do we accept?

Inside Indonesia publishes original, informative, analytical and/or reflective short and medium length pieces on a wide range of political, social, environmental and cultural issues in Indonesia.

Inside Indonesia is not an academic publication. This means we do not follow the normal conventions of academic writing (e.g. no footnotes or bibliographies) and we strive to avoid jargon and abstractions. However, many of the people who edit and write for us are academics and students and we strive to maintain high editorial standards.

Inside Indonesia also publishes

  • reviews on books published about Indonesia
  • photo essays featuring aspects of Indonesia.

With rare exceptions, we do not publish opinion or op-ed pieces (pieces where the main thrust is explaining why a particular government policy or other development is wrong, needs improving, or should be changed in some other way). Instead, most of our articles are 'information-rich'. They are based on in-depth research or investigation and, as well as presenting opinion and analysis, provide detailed information and background about a recent event, organisation, trend or personality. They contribute something new or different from what is available in the mainstream media.

Please note, you are responsible for guaranteeing:

  • that your work is original
  • that your material not been published elsewhere (you are free to reproduce it elsewhere as long as you acknowledge that it was first published in Inside Indonesia)
  • that your work does not breach copyright or defame others.

How long can submissions be?

Articles are generally between 800 and 1600 words long. Occasionally longer articles (up to 3000 words) are published. These articles require special consideration on submission.

Please consult with our editorial team regarding the length of your proposed piece.

How do I submit an article?

  1. Look at articles previously published by Inside Indonesia to get a sense of our style and the type of content we publish
  2. Write a 150 word pitch about your idea and send it to the commissioning editor at
  3. If the commissioning editor feels your idea is suitable, write your article
  4. Download the Inside Indonesia Style Guide and make sure your article follows the style guide
  5. Submit your article. The commissioning editor will assign an editor for the article. The editor will review the article. If the content of the article is sound, the editor will work together with you until the article is ready to be published
  6. The article will then undergo final review to determine whether or not it is publishable

What other information do I have to send in with my article?

We like to include brief biographical information about our authors with their articles, so please send us a short two sentence description of yourself as well as links to any organisations you represent or work for. If you agree to us putting the link to your organisation on our website, we would appreciate if a link to Inside Indonesia could be made on yours.

Who owns the copyright of my article?

You retain the copyright of your article except when it is reproduced directly from Inside Indonesia (for example in university teaching packs). You are free to republish your article elsewhere, as long as you acknowledge that it was first published in Inside Indonesia.

The small amount of money raised by Inside Indonesia from copyright fees for direct reproduction of articles by educational institutions is the primary source of income for our entirely voluntary organisation. If you receive a copyright notice for direct reproductions of something you have written for us, please do not make a claim.


We look forward to receiving your contribution!

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Lontar Modern Indonesia



A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar