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Writer Guidelines

A guide to writing perfect articles.

Writer Guidelines, Page 1

Table of Contents
Introduction 1 - Aspects of Writing
Article Clarity
Coherent/Cohesive Writing Organization Focus Introductory Paragraph

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7 7 7 8

A Good Introduction Should: You can: An Introduction Should Not: Resources

Audience Wordiness Awkward Wording Pronouns and Antecedents Comparatives Word Choice and Spelling

8 8 9 9
9 10 10 10 10 10

Verb Tense Consistency Conditional Tense (Could/Would) Verb/Noun Confusion It's/Its Other Homophones/Homonyms Amount/Number

11 11 11 12 12 12

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Punctuation Punctuation Resources Commas Oxford Comma Punctuation Marks and Spaces

12 12 13 13 13

Sentence Structure
Sentence Structure Resources Sentence Structure Variation Dangling Modiers Parallelism/Parallel Construction

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2 - Article Submission
Short Summaries Titles

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Bad Good Content

Useful Information Opinion-Based or Editorial-Style Pieces First-Person POV/Personal Narratives

16 16 16
16 16 16

Author Intrusion Web Writing Goals of Articles Submitted to us Blogs Credibility and Professionalism

18 18 18 19 19

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Final Note
Other POVs Creative Writing Lists Series

19 19 20 20

Prejudiced Language/Stereotyping Rhetorical Fallacies/Alienation Rights Paragraph Structure Capitalization Brand Names British English/American English

20 20 21 21 21 21 21

Referencing Sources Format

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What We Want Professionally written, concise articles that are free of all errors including sentence structure errors, grammar errors, and punctuation errors. Professionally written articles include: Introductions and conclusions Useful information

Articles Must Not Include: Poetry, ction, op-eds, or rst-person POV Promotional content Active linked web addresses - Please follow our protocol if you must include web addresses by removing the http://www prex. Ex: (good), (bad) Signature lines, bios, or author contact info Plagiarism*(Using text taken directly from another source and presenting this information as your own.)

Technical Submission Requirements: 12 pt Arial font A short summary which must be an original description of the entire article, at least 30 words long Extended Guidelines The following constitutes a list of elements that are important for articles submitted to us. In general, much of what is included is also important for high-quality writing that presents information in a clear manner the only type of writing that we are looking for. Included are links to references which help describe and demystify writing concepts and problems. Some information about the submission process, and what types of content we accept, is also included.
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If you are looking for an excellent grammar and writing handbook, Hodges' Harbrace Handbook is recommended. With that said, lets now get started with the extended guidelines.

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1 - Aspects of Writing
Article Clarity
Coherent/Cohesive Writing Please seek to write in a cohesive, coherent manner. Cohesion and coherence make your writing readable. These concepts concern the ow of ideas and passage unity. If your article lacks cohesiveness and coherence, it will also lack the quality of readability. Achieving coherence in writing: More about coherence, including information about using transition statements: Conciseness, Cohesion, and Coherence PowerPoint presentation:

Organization Articles, and paragraphs within articles, must be well organized. The following may help clarify what organization is and what techniques you can use to organize your writing: and id=48&c_type=category&c_id=32

Focus Please make sure your article is well focused and contains a clear main idea that is supported throughout the article. Exclude irrelevant information.

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The following denes focus and offers some suggestions for creating well-focused pieces:

Introductory Paragraph An introductory paragraph is essential for every article that you write. Without an introduction, you can leave your reader feeling disoriented and confused, which means that they will, in turn, leave you and your article in order to go read something else that doesnt make them feel that way. So what is a good introductory paragraph and what should it do?
A Good Introduction Should:

Prepare the reader for the information theyll gain from the article. Hook the reader into reading the article or convince the reader they want to read the article.

Make a statement that summarizes what the article is about (some call this a thesis statement).

Now, this isnt high school composition, so youve got some leeway.

You can:

Build the reader up by starting with a broad generalization, drilling down with more specic information, and ending with the statement that tells the reader what your article, in particular, is about. Ask a question that gets your article going when you begin to answer that question. Use an example from a real life situation to prepare the reader for the salient points you will make in your article.

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Make an absurd statement to shock the reader then proceed to explain why that statement is incorrect in the context of your article.

There are other ways, of course, to formulate your introduction . . . as long as it does its job.

An Introduction Should Not:

Answer a question you have posed in your title without restating the question.

Begin with step number one of a process that you will outline in your article (such as in a how to type article). Contain only one sentencethat being your thesis statement. Consist of the words In this article, I will tell you about such and such, and convince you why you should do such and such. This heavy-handed approach will turn most readers off. Be completely absent from your article!


There are many resources available that describe how to write an introductory paragraph. Most are geared towards students and essay writing, but the principles are the same and can be adapted for nonacademic writing. Consider the following resources: and

Audience Please write with an intended audience in mind: audience.html

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Wordiness Articles must be written in a concise manner. Please do not use more words than necessary to convey your message. More information about reducing wordiness and writing in a concise manner:

Awkward Wording Awkward wording can include awkward word order, unclear/wordy phrasing, and phrasing that does not sound natural to a native English speaker's ear. Please try to make your point in a concise, grammatically correct manner.

Pronouns and Antecedents Please make sure all pronouns clearly refer to their respective antecedents and agree with them in number. The following gives examples of (and solutions to) this problem:

Comparatives Please use comparative adjectives (cheaper, faster, bigger, brighter) only when things are being compared:

Word Choice and Spelling If you are unsure about the meaning of a word or how it is used, look it up in a reputable dictionary or choose another word. In addition, please use your spellchecker or look up words you do not know how to spell.

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All basic grammar rules must be followed. The following list is not comprehensive and outlines only frequently seen grammar problems.

Verb Tense Consistency Be consistent with verb tense and avoid awkward/ungrammatical tense shift: Observe rules for use of the literary tense (http:// where necessary. Examples include book plot descriptions or movie synopses.

Conditional Tense (Could/Would) The conditional tense may only be used under certain circumstances. Incorrect use of the conditional tense can be awkward and confusing for your reader. The following illustrates when the conditional tense should be used:

Verb/Noun Confusion Please avoid confusing the verb- and noun-forms of words like the following: breakout/break out breakdown/break down cleanup/clean up Setup/set up hangout/hang out Payoff/pay off The words on the left are nouns. The words on the right are verbs. The teens hang out at their hangout.

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It's/Its These words are not interchangeable. Please do not confuse them. If you aren't sure when either word is appropriate, please see the following reference:

Other Homophones/Homonyms Articles with incorrect use of words like their/they're/there, your/ you're, who's/whose and other homophones will be rejected.

Amount/Number Please use the correct words to describe amount or number of something: Ex: Fewer books, not less books

Punctuation Please properly punctuate sentences. Questions require question marks. Exclamation points should be used sparingly. Semicolons, colons, apostrophes, commas, dashes, hyphens, and quotation marks must be used properly.

Punctuation Resources Semicolons: Colons: and Apostrophes: Hyphens:
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Dashes and m-dashes: dashes.asp Parentheses: Quotation marks : (scroll down for links to more rules) Ellipses:

Commas Please observe rules for comma usage and apply these rules consistently. Comma Use: Commas and Subordinate Clauses: PowerPoint Presentation for Comma Use:

Oxford Comma Use it or remove it. Either is acceptable, but please be consistent.

Punctuation Marks and Spaces A space should not appear before a period, question mark, exclamation mark, or comma. Please observe standard spacing rules for punctuation.

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Sentence Structure
We do not accept content with run-on sentences or unnecessary/ confusing use of sentence fragments.

Sentence Structure Resources Run-on sentences: Rules for xing comma splices and fused sentences: Rules for xing sentence fragments:

Sentence Structure Variation We cannot consider articles that contain no variation in sentence structure. Please vary your sentence structure to give your writing rhythm and to avoid sounding monotonous:

Dangling Modiers Make sure your articles contain no dangling modiers. A dangling modier describes a word or phrase not clearly stated in the sentence. The following describes dangling modiers in greater detail:

Parallelism/Parallel Construction Parallelism helps to convey ideas in a concise and clear manner using similar grammatical forms. Parallel construction also enables the creation of grammatically correct sentences. Please seek to create parallel sentence structures in your writing: and
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2 - Article Submission
Short Summaries Please keep the following in mind when you are composing your short summaries: Short summaries must be free of the rst-person POV and all autobiographical information. This section of the submission form must describe only the article being submitted. Please do not share information about yourself on the short summary. Short summaries must be free of errors and follow all writing rules and standards. Please proofread your short summaries for punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar before you submit your article. Short summaries must be free of promotional language. In addition, do not include information about how your article is original, or unique. Our checks determine if an article is original. If your article isn't original, then we don't want it. Short summaries must describe the article being submitted in a manner that is useful to the reader and must be at least 30 words in length. This is the rst thing after your title that the reader sees. Make it count.

Titles Titles must be properly capitalized and punctuated, and they must be free of spelling and grammar errors. Do not include your byline in the title. We cannot accept submissions with titles in all caps. Consider the following examples:

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TITLES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY Titles; the Good, the Bad, the Ugly Titles the Good the Bad the Ugly Titles: the good, the bad, the ugly Titles: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly!!

Titles: T/the Good, the Bad, the Ugly Titles The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Useful Information Articles submitted to us must always contain information that is useful to the reader and present that information in a useful way.

Opinion-Based or Editorial-Style Pieces We do not accept opinion-based or editorial-style pieces.

First-Person POV/Personal Narratives We do not accept these for various reasons. Please avoid use of the rstperson POV and do not submit personal narratives/accounts. Please note that we do not accept content that uses the rst-person plural when it refers to the author. You can read more about why we do not accept these below: 1. We use this content on an as-needed basis. There is no opportunity for the author to build a relationship with readers, as would a writer of a weekly column. Therefore, the reader is not invested in the personal life of the author because the author is a stranger; they will not empathize with the writer and may nd the emotions/opinions of
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a stranger to be irrelevant. 2. Web customers or people who search for information on the internet are searching for just that information. They are less interested in experiences that may be unique to the author and are more interested in information that will be immediately useful to them how to care for a burn, what to do if their cus is looking a little brown, how they can lose ten pounds before the wedding next month. 3. We want content that will be found by search engines and ranked high so that customers will visit our pages. Pages that are relevant to a wide group of people that is, articles that address the audience, rather than use introspection - will rank more highly because they will be more likely to get link backs, will more likely be visited by people looking for information, and will more likely be given more credit by those who use internet search tools like Stumbleupon or Digg. 4. Personal narratives have a difcult time balancing information and style with sentimentality and emotion. First-person accounts are often so subjective that the reader will be turned off by shows of emotion (especially if it is negative) because there is no common ground between the reader and the writer. Successful autobiographical authors use objectivity to help others see the world through their eyes and show rather than tell about situations. However, our platform is not a good place for narratives ction or nonction. Please avoid using the rst-person point-of-view (either a single time or multiple times) in your articles, except when a requester has specically asked for personal accounts. You may have had one or more of your articles rejected for use of the rst person point-of-view (POV), and you may be wondering in what cases the I voice is unacceptable. Ill explain.
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Author Intrusion

In most cases, the I slips into articles even if the article begins by addressing the reader as you. When the reader is suddenly hit with the authors opinion or experience, this is uncomfortable and is known as author intrusion. When a reader has been set up to absorb information directed at them, it can be awkward to suddenly hear the voice of the author. Voice or POV should stay consistent throughout a piece, whether it is rst-, second-, or third-person.
Web Writing

However, for web writing, I should rarely be used. We will, of course, accept articles that are submitted for requests that require the inclusion of personal experience, narratives, or anecdotes. For other writing, I is hardly ideal. Why? Because readers want to know what is true for them if they are seeking information. The experience of the writer is usually irrelevant, as the writer is only one person. Authors of articles should seek to explain what is generally true in a broad sense. This will not only make your article more useful to readers, but it will make it more useful to us. Ex. You write an article about poison ivy. However, you happen to be immune to poison ivys toxins. Instead of saying, Poison ivy will make you itch, but I am immune to it, it would be better to say, Poison ivy will make most people itch, however, there are a few people who happen to be immune to this plants toxins.
Goals of Articles Submitted to us

Articles submitted to us should, above all, offer something to the reader. Personal narratives rarely do this. Most people reading web writing are seeking information. A personal narrative that does not connect to the reader does not offer the reader anything. Articles that fall into this category may be perceived as a waste of the readers time. In addition, a reader who does not suspect that the article will provide them what they are looking for after the rst few sentences will cease to keep reading.

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Even blog authors are straying from the use of the word I. Personal blogs are still in the styles of diaries. However, blogs more often offer information that is up-to-date and informative. In this case, the rstperson is once again rendered irrelevant.
Credibility and Professionalism

In addition, because writers rarely have connections with the publications in which their work is featured, the I can become even more problematic. The reader is not familiar with the writer or the writers work. The I is a stranger, and the stranger may not be able to be trusted in the readers eyes. Removing the I from articles submitted to us will lend more credibility and professionalism to the information.
Final Note

The reader doesnt care about the process it takes to write an article. If you give them a step-by-step about what you went through to gather the information you present, they will quickly grow bored and stop reading. Present the result of your research, not the process. Cite credible sources (The FDA reports . . . not My mother says . . . ) that inspire condence in the information.

Other POVs Using the second person, or you, to address the reader is acceptable. Using we when it refers to the reader and writer, or humanity in general, is acceptable. Using the pronoun one throughout a piece is not acceptable. Why? A discussion about how using the pronoun "one" sounds to the reader can be found here:

Creative Writing We do not accept ction (including novels, novel chapters, or short stories), poetry of any kind, or memoirs.
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Lists If you wish to create a list of tips, steps, or items, each list item must be accompanied by an explanation. We cannot accept submissions that are simply lists.

Series Articles must be able to stand alone and may not reference other articles, published or unpublished, by the author. We cannot accept series of articles.

Articles that contain unprofessional use of language, punctuation, or font will be rejected. We do not accept content with smileys. Please exhibit tactfulness in your writing. Treat your subjects and your readers with respect.

Prejudiced Language/Stereotyping Use inclusive language and avoid the use of prejudiced language and pejoratives. We will not accept content that includes racist, sexist, homophobic, or other prejudiced language. The use of class-based references and stereotyping will also result in rejection, as will language that is denigrating to any religious or ethnic group.

Rhetorical Fallacies/Alienation Using rhetorical fallacies or alienating a set of readers will result in article rejection. Avoid judging a set of readers or taking a negative stance against them. Ex: Parents who allow their children to watch TV on the weekends are lazy.
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Rights Do not include language anywhere in your article about licensing or rights.

Paragraph Structure Articles must be organized and formatted into properly structured paragraphs. Articles submitted in a single paragraph, or articles that are made up of mostly single-sentence paragraphs, will be rejected. Strong paragraphs help create strong articles. If your paragraphcreating skills need polishing, please review the following reference:

Capitalization Please observe all capitalization rules, avoiding erroneous use of capitalization, and using proper capitalization where necessary. Not sure if a word is capitalized? Look it up! The following resources may be of help: and

Brand Names Please properly spell and capitalize names of brands, or use the generic term for the product. If you are unsure how a product name should be spelled or capitalized, please refer to the company's website for clarication.

British English/American English We accept either, but please be consistent throughout the piece.

Referencing Sources

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We do not accept content with links or website addresses. However, if you want to reference websites, you may do so by dropping the http:// www. prex from the address and removing hyperlinks. You may use your preferred style for referencing print sources.

Please professionally format your articles in 12 pt. Arial font with single spaced paragraphs and a double space between paragraphs. A full space between paragraphs helps the reader to determine where one paragraph ends and another begins.

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