Nota Bene Literary Competition

The 2018 competition will open soon.

Nota Bene, Latin for "note well," is Phi Theta Kappa's honors anthology. It recognizes outstanding writing of Phi Theta Kappa members and demonstrates to the literary public the academic excellence and commitment to scholarship found at two-year colleges. The first issue of Nota Bene was published in 1994; it has been published annually ever since.

The Ewing Citation Scholarship Award, a scholarship of $1,000, is given to the author of the Nota Bene manuscript considered to be the most outstanding of all entries.

This award is named in honor of Nell Ewing, long-time Phi Theta Kappa staff member who was a driving force behind Nota Bene, beginning with its conceptual design and establishment. Ewing retired in 2012 after serving 26 years with Phi Theta Kappa.

Four authors receive the Reynolds Scholarship Awards, scholarships of $500 each. These awards are endowed by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They honor the memory of the late Donald W. Reynolds, founder of the Donrey Media Group.


Frequently Asked Questions

The 2017 competition is now closed, but we will begin accepting submissions for the 2018 competition soon. Entries will be due by 5 p.m. CT on Friday, April 27, 2018.

Only Phi Theta Kappa members may submit manuscripts. Members may only submit manuscripts while enrolled in the two-year college.

Qualitative and quantitative research papers, poetry, short stories, essays and drama are accepted for consideration.

There is an overall limit of five (5) entries per person.

There are limits on the number of entries one person can submit in a single genre:

  • No more than five (5) poems may be submitted.
  • No more than three (3) short stories may be submitted.
  • No more than three (3) essays may be submitted.
  • No more than three (3) works of drama may be submitted.
  • No more than two (2) qualitative or quantitative research papers may be submitted.

No single entry may exceed 2,500 words. Works Cited Lists are not included in the word count.

For best results, we suggest uploading a PDF file. Please, only one entry per file.

While it is not necessary to add a cover sheet to your work, we do suggest that you use your name and the title of your work as a header on each page.

Advisors Emeriti serve as the first-round judges. They will read through submissions and narrow the field to about a hundred entries.

We have three second-round judges who read the final 100 entries and select the top 20-30 for publication. This group also selects scholarship recipients.

The first round of judging occurs between early May and the end of June. The second-round begins in early July, and final selections are typically made mid-August.

Everyone will be notified about the status of his or her submission via email in mid-to-late September. The printed copy of Nota Bene is usually available in early winter.

A member may submit manuscripts in any category he or she wishes, as long as the total number of works entered does not exceed five (5).

There are limits on the number of entries one person can submit in a single genre:

  • No more than five (5) poems may be submitted.
  • No more than three (3) short stories may be submitted.
  • No more than three (3) essays may be submitted.
  • No more than three (3) works of drama may be submitted.
  • No more than two (2) qualitative or quantitative research papers may be submitted.

Two copies of Nota Bene are mailed to each Phi Theta Kappa chapter contact advisor. Those selected for publication will receive five copies each, and the college presidents whose members have been selected for publication will receive one copy each.

All Nota Bene entries must be submitted electronically using the form on this page. Hard copies of manuscripts will not be accepted.

The author of the manuscript judged most outstanding will receive the Ewing Citation Scholarship Award, a scholarship of $1,000. Authors of up to four manuscripts will be named recipients of Reynolds Scholarship Awards, scholarships of $500 each. These awards are endowed by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They honor the memory of the late Donald W. Reynolds, founder of the Donrey Media Group.

All members will be notified by email, regardless of whether their entries were selected for publication. After all scholarship winners have been notified, a list of winning entries will be published on the Phi Theta Kappa website. Members whose entries have been selected to be published retain the rights to their work.


Plagiarism Policy

All works submitted to Nota Bene must be the work of the author. If a work submitted is determined to be plagiarized from any source, the following steps will be taken:

  • The member who submitted the plagiarized works will be notified by letter of the incidence of plagiarism with proof supplied.
  • The plagiarized submission and any other submission by that member will be disqualified from consideration for publication in Nota Bene.
  • The member's chapter advisor and college president will be notified by letter of the incidence of plagiarism and proof will be supplied to each of them.

For more information

Please email Nota Bene Support or contact Features Editor Erin Cogswell at 601.987.5533.