Agriculture Communication


| Share

Educational Materials / Publication Guidelines

Guidelines for Educational Materials

NDSU Extension and N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station

Educational materials include publications, brochures, fliers, posters, banners, handouts, newsletters, packaged programs (those containing PowerPoints, lesson plans, leaders guides, handouts, etc.) and other materials that are targeted for public audiences. Of those, "numbered publications" go through the peer review process with an Educational Materials Submittal Form, appear on the Publications website and are available through the Distribution Center if copies are printed. Some of these materials may be for the web only. Even if it's not a "numbered publication," all materials stored in the Distribution Center should have a number code for easier management.

Educational materials developed by NDSU Agriculture and Extension faculty and staff for the public must follow these guidelines to meet NDSU standards, use funds efficiently, coordinate with other materials and be available through the Distribution Center, though a limited number are web only.

The need of the target audience determines the priority of materials to be funded with appropriated money or the Ag Communication publications income account. Authors must define the specific target audience for the publication and assess the need for the information. Distribution beyond NDSU offices and how to market the material also should be considered.

All educational materials go first to the Educational Materials Coordinator in Ag Communication, Sharon Lane, 231-7883, who records the project and starts it through the process. The Educational Materials Submittal Form must be filled out completely at this time. The project will not be worked on until the form is completed. The Ag Communication Director, Becky Koch, 231-7875, is involved if financial questions arise.

Projects are logged and tracked in a live tracking spreadsheet on the Ag Communication website. This allows authors and others to see the progress of projects through Ag Communication.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Revisions and reprints, not just new pieces, need an Educational Materials Submittal Form and go to the Educational Materials Coordinator. If the piece has minor revisions, reviewer signatures aren't required, but department head/chair signature is required for payment.

  • A revised publication in print or on the web will have the month and year of update below the logo on page 1. Numbered publications say "Revised" behind the publication number in the upper left. See the "Old" Materials section below.

  • Revised or reprinted materials published in print or on the web will have the latest month and year below the logo in the lower left of page 1.

  • The back page of most printed materials includes an abbreviation of the number printed and date or web only, and the Creative Commons, nondiscrimination and alternative formats statements.

  • When a total of more than 1,000 copies are needed statewide, the state office should provide the printed material rather than asking counties to photocopy large quantities.

Submitting Printed Materials

All pieces of the project, including the completed Educational Materials Submittal Form, the text in Word, and the graphics and photos must be submitted together to the Educational Materials Coordinator before the work begins. The department chair's signature is required on all submittal forms.

As many photos and graphics as possible should be included. If Ag Communication needs to find and create graphics, production time will be longer and costs will rise. Specific graphic needs must be written out.

Send electronic files with as little formatting as possible. If you put the text in columns, insert graphics or photos, etc., the graphic designers will have to spend much more time laying it out in their software. However, you're welcome to send along a sketch with your design ideas.

If authors provide digital photos, the photos must be high resolution for the best reproduction. This is especially important if the publication is to be printed in color. All photos must be credited.

Please allow plenty of time for the project to go through the editing, layout, proofing, approval, printing, and sometimes tabbing, labeling and mailing processes. General guidelines are:

  • Newsletters – two weeks
  • Fliers and brochures – three weeks
  • One- or two-color publications 16 pages or fewer – six weeks
  • Four-color publications or those with more than 16 pages – eight weeks
  • Letterhead, envelopes, business cards and enclosures – one week

Consider the following when planning your project:

  • Most projects will take less time. Major projects take more time, but Ag Communication staff strive to get projects completed as soon as possible. Authors must plan ahead to allow time for all the processes for a high-quality product.

  • This schedule lengthens if the author doesn’t return proofs in a timely manner. Authors must sign the final approval before printing. Changes made after final approval are reprinted at the author’s expense.

  • Make your best estimate for the quantity to be printed. Underestimating the demand for your printed materials can cost you more. Having to reprint your job because you ordered too few can impact the total cost of your project significantly. However, many publications have been recycled because they've "aged out" on the shelves.

  • Numbered publications are uploaded automatically to the web in PDF format.

Hints for Writing Publications

  • Avoid most formatting in the text provided to Ag Communication. Keep the copy as simple as possible. The graphic designers format the headlines, add columns and insert other formatting.

  • If you have an idea of how the publication could be designed, include a sketch.

  • Write as concisely as possible to focus on the content and meet readers' needs.

  • Have the copy as complete as possible. Editing after layout takes more time and adds cost.

  • Never create columns of information using tabs. Always use the table function.

Web-only Materials

If edits to a web-only publication are minor, marking the changes on a printout of the PDF is more efficient than in a word-processed document. However, if the changes are major enough that the document will need to be formatted again, provide the text in Word. Use <Ctrl> <A> to copy the text in the PDF then paste it into a new Word document for editing.


Newsletters that are similar among counties, such as the Ag Alerts, should have a specific header that all counties use.

State newsletters should be reviewed by an editor. Newsletter authors and editors should work with the Distribution Center to use the most efficient and cost-effective mailing method.


Authors must get written permission to use quantities of text beyond fair use guidelines, photos, graphics and other resources created by someone else, even if no copyright symbol is on the material. This includes materials in print and on the web.

The following are especially important:

  • Permission must be granted by the organization that owns the material rather than the author – for example, the publisher rather than the book author or the university rather than the faculty member.

  • These permissions must be attached to the Educational Materials Submittal Form or forwarded to the Educational Materials Coordinator electronically.

  • If others request permission from NDSU authors, refer them to our Creative Commons license. People may use information from NDSU Agriculture and Extension printed materials and websites without requesting individualized permission as long as they follow the Creative Commons rules of use.

All materials, whether on paper or the web, need to include the following in fine print:

NDSU encourages you to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt this work as long as you give full attribution, don’t use the work for commercial purposes and share your resulting work similarly. For more information, visit

Brand Names

Avoid brand names when possible by using the generic form, e.g., in-line skates instead of Rollerblades, slow cooker instead of Crockpot, facial tissue instead of Kleenex and gelatin instead of Jell-O. This eliminates the appearance of NDSU endorsing a particular product or service. But when using brand names is unavoidable, such as in publications about pesticides or recipes calling for specific products, capitalize the names and include the following statement (recommended by the NDSU general counsel):

The NDSU Extension does not endorse commercial products or companies even though reference may be made to trade names, trademarks or service names.

Do not use the ®, ™ or SM symbols when referring to the proper name of products and services.

Peer Review

Publications should be reviewed by three individuals who are familiar with the subject matter. These may be Extension specialists or research scientists at NDSU or other institutions, industry representatives or other qualified individuals. In addition, one county Extension agent in the topic area should review items for their suitability for use in county programs, if applicable. Reviewers names must be listed on the submittal form.

“Old” Materials

Extension program leaders agreed that materials more than five years old no longer will be available online or kept on the shelves, even if the information still is accurate. The Educational Materials Coordinator will ask faculty or specialists to review the information before the five years are up. Often, a quick review and a new date and logo are all that's needed for the materials to go live again. The Educational Materials Coordinator will inform offices when printed publications are deleted from the inventory.

Information by Faculty or Specialists No Longer at NDSU

If the original author has left NDSU, a current specialist in that subject matter should review printed publications and Web pages for content. If the current faculty member says the information is up to date and relevant, the information still will be made available. The current faculty member's name will go on the front of the publication and the original author's name will go on the back of the publication.

For example, if the current faculty member makes no significant changes, a publication might say:

Reviewed by
Sean Brotherson
Family Science Specialist

NDSU Extension

The publication number will be followed by (Reviewed January 2013)

If the current specialist makes more than minor changes, the publication would say:

Revised by
Sean Brotherson
Family Science Specialist

NDSU Extension

The publication number will be followed by (Revised January 2013)

On the back of the publication, the original author might be credited this way: This publication was authored by Laura DeHaan, former assistant professor of child development, NDSU, 1982.

Charging for Publications

The two basic guidelines are:

  • Printed materials that cost less than $1 to print still are free single-copy publications to NDSU faculty and staff and the public. The goal is to get useful information to the target audience in the most effective and cost-efficient way.

  • Publications that cost more than $1 to print must be charge publications unless grant or other funds paid for the production and printing. The retail price must be at least double the cost of printing.

Retail and wholesale prices will be rounded up slightly from the actual cost in 25-cent increments. A 10 percent discount will apply to purchases of 100 copies or more. The Educational Materials Coordinator, in conjunction with the author, will determine the retail price.

Charges also will be based on the following:

  • Charge materials will be sold at the wholesale price to NDSU Agriculture and Extension offices and retail price to the public.

  • Offices will keep the profit when they buy wholesale and sell retail.

  • Unless faculty helped pay for production (see Publications Supported by Grant or Sponsor Funding section), they must pay for all copies of charge publications that leave the Distribution Center. Faculty should not give away copies of charge publications since the policy is to charge for them.

  • Charges for printed materials must be consistent across the state, following the retail price in the catalog. However, offices can decide if they want to charge for information printed from the web.

Ag Communication will not keep separate accounts for income on specific projects. If authors or units want to keep the profits from the sale of material, plans must be discussed with the Educational Materials Coordinator and Ag Communication Director before the project is started.

Publications Supported with USDA and Other Federal Agency Funding

Authors must acknowledge National Institute of Food and Agriculture support in the publication of any material that is based on or developed under a grant received from NIFA. This policy usually applies to all federally sponsored grants and typically is listed in the terms and conditions of the grant agreement. Federal auditors have written up other universities for failure to provide this acknowledgment. The acknowledgment should read:

This work is supported by [Program Name] [grant no. XXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Authors who don’t know the agreement number should contact Ona Vig, 231-8528

In addition, all publications and other materials, except scientific articles or papers published in scientific journals, must contain the following statement:

"Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

Also, NIFA expects the use of NIFA’s official identifier in all publications, posters, websites and presentations resulting from awards.

Charge Publications Supported by Grant or Sponsor Funding

Extension publications must follow the Sponsorship Acknowledgement Guidelines to appropriately and consistently acknowledge sponsors of Extension programs and materials, and to reinforce the brand of NDSU Extension as the credible source of unbiased research-based information. Publications developed with grant or sponsor funding must include financial support for editing and layout in addition to printing.

Free copy policy:

  • Authors who pay a portion of the costs for creating and/or printing a publication will receive free copies valued at up to 90 percent (total for all authors of the publication) of their financial contribution. For example, if a publication costs $5,000 for 10,000 copies and the authors contributed $2,500, the authors are entitled to a total of 4,500 copies for their use. The money generated by the sale of the remaining 5,500 copies goes to the Ag Communication publications income account to print other materials.

  • When a grant subsidizes a publication, the sponsoring organization is entitled to a portion of the free copies made available to the authors. The authors will determine the number given to the organization.

  • If authors keep copies, they must not fill requests that should be directed to the Distribution Center.

  • Authors who create a publication but do not have a grant to help pay for the publication are entitled to 10 percent of the total number of copies printed at no cost. The limit is 10 percent, regardless of the number of authors. With this policy, authors are not penalized for use of their own work but rather benefit from bringing in money for a project. If authors want to give away more than their share of charge publications, the cost must be paid to Ag Communication and worked into their budget or a registration fee at conferences, workshops, etc.

Money generated from sales of most educational materials goes into the Ag Communication publications income account for future printing and reprinting of publications. The Ag Communication Director oversees this fund.

Publications Fulfillment Guidelines

Some numbered publications of NDSU Extension are available in printed version (most free but some for-sale only), and some are available only on the web. Distribution Center staff in Agriculture Communication are responsible for making these publications available in print and online.

Single Copies

North Dakota residents are encouraged to access publications online or get printed copies from their county Extension office. Others are encouraged to access publications online.

If someone (in-state or out-of-state) requests a single copy of a free publication, there’s no charge as long as that publication fits in a regular business-size envelope. If handling (Tyvek envelope, for example) and postage cost more, handling and shipping are charged.

For-sale-only publication prices include handling and shipping.

Multiple Copies

County offices of the NDSU Extension, Research Extension Centers and NDSU departments may order free publications as needed for their educational programs.

Other requests (for example, private industry or Extension in other states) pay the cost of printing rounded up to the next 25 cents plus shipping and handling.

Adopted October 2005, Updated February 2010, Updated January 2014, Updated September 2016

Filed under: ,
Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.