As we look forward to announcing the winners of the 2014 M&A Mid-Market Awards in the April issue of Mergers & Acquisitions, I find myself fielding a lot of questions about our brand's mission and methodologies. We love the feedback, so keep it coming! The best way to reach me is through my email address: marykathleen.flynn@sourcemedia.com. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

Mergers & Acquisitions focuses squarely on the middle market. So, how do we define the middle market? For us, it's all about the size of the deal. We cover deals worth between $10 million and $1 billion. In the U.S., more than 2,300 deals closed in that range during 2014, according to Thomson Reuters. (For more, see our January cover story, "2014 Best Year for Middle-Market M&A Since 2007.")

That's a huge range. When making editorial decisions about which transactions to cover and which buyers and sellers to profile, we consider the middle market's sweet spot to be deals falling between $250 million and $500 million, and we define the lower middle market as topping out at $250 million.

When we make choices about which transactions to write about, we keep this value range in mind. Without a price tag to help us put a deal in context, deals with undisclosed terms receive less coverage. Typically, we do not include deals with undisclosed terms in our charts. While that's not to say we won't write about a deal with undisclosed terms, it does mean the bar will be higher. There has to be some other feature that stands out, like, perhaps the transaction embodies an on-going trend we're following.

For our charts, we include an explanation of our methodology:

Editor's Note: To measure activity in the middle market, Mergers & Acquisitions looks at transactions that fulfill several requirements: Deals must have a value of roughly $1 billion or less; they must be completed (not just announced) within the timeframe designated; and they must include at least one U.S. company in the role of buyer and/or seller. Excluded from our charts are: recapitalizations; self-tenders; exchange offers; repurchases; stake purchases; and transactions with undisclosed values, buyers or sellers. Our data provider is Thomson Reuters, which updates its databases continuously. We use the data available at press time.

As we consider candidates for our awards, we'll be keeping the criteria in mind. Award winners will be those companies and individuals who best embody the middle market and the dealmaking trends of 2014.

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