How to store clippings

How do you keep your clippings?

If you keep them in paper format, they take up more and more room as your portfolio grows. If you keep them in boxes in the loft, as I do, you never get to see them anyway. I think if you’re going to store them in printed format you should go the whole hog and keep them nicely bound in some sort of presentation folder, and place them on shelves in your living space so that they can be admired by you and anyone who happens to browse your bookshelves!

Articles should scanned to preserve their published appearanceThey will need to be kept in a protective covering, because paper has a tendency to go brown and brittle over time. Unfortunately, I have sometimes found that if I store my clippings in a plastic folder, the plastic itself deteriorates and causes the paper inside it to become stuck to it. The British Library offers some advice on how to preserve newspaper clippings, so I would check that out, as I am not an expert in this side of things, just someone who has been pretty lucky!

You might store them in a digital format. They will take up far less room, but then you face the possibility of the media on which they’re stored, and/or the format in which they’re stored, becoming defunct. This is what has happened to me: I have diskettes containing files, but am not able to conveniently read them.

If the articles are available online on the website of the journal in which your piece was published, you may think you need do nothing, but unfortunately you are then at the mercy of the journal owners. This is not a good thing: I have “lost” articles by their being archived or, worse, taken down altogether as a result of a change of magazine ownership.

I have come to the conclusion that the only sensible option is to store them online, under your own control.

For example, one approach is to acquire your own domain name and associated online space, and republish the articles yourself. You don’t need to make the site public – indeed, you probably shouldn’t, at least until a decent amount of time has elapsed since an article’s first been published – although making the site accessible by anyone who knows its URL is an easy way of making it possible to email editors with direct links to your recent successes.

Another (not mutually exclusive) approach is to avail yourselves of an online storage service of some description. Make sure the company has a good reputation and seems OK. A good way of finding out if it isn’t is to do an internet search on “[company name]” or even“[company name] sucks”, because that may reveal some interesting information about the quality of the product or service itself and of the speed with which complaints are dealt with.

This isn’t foolproof, because there will always be someone who has had a rotten experience. But if the same issue seems to come up several times then you may wish to heed the warning signs and move on to another company.

Storing articles online, however you do so, is a little time-consuming, because it’s not simply a matter of storing the original file. What you need to do is scan the article so that your “copy” of it looks exactly as it’s published, as illustrated in this article. That enables it to be used as proof that you did  have the article published, and also to send it to an editor by email if you wish.

It’s probably a good idea to scan the cover of the journal in which it appeared as well.

This will all take several minutes to do, which means that if you’re going to adopt this method you will need to do the scanning as soon as you receive the published article, because otherwise you will be there for hours as you deal with a backlog.

A disadvantage of scanning, apart from time, is that you will need a scanner. These are relatively inexpensive these days, and you may even have a scanning option already in your printer.

Another disadvantage is that the resulting image is bound to be huge in terms of the amount of space it takes up. For example, the original image illustrating this article is over 15 megabytes in size, which makes it difficult to email to people. The image is very large because you need to select the highest resolution you can in order to make it as clear as possible to read. Unless the article has been published in a black and white newspaper you will probably need to select the colour option too.

If the article has been published online, it’s less time-consuming because you can take screenshots. I’d highly recommend a program called PickPick. This is a simple image editor which has several screenshot options, and is free.

Probably the best option in an ideal world would be to save the original journals in which your articles have been published, and then photocopy or scan articles when you need to send them to an editor. I tried that, but after a while storage becomes an absolute nightmare.

Which brings us back to the start of this article!

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