WRITE WITH HUMILITY, AND WRITE WELL.
WRITE LIKE A JOURNALIST.
But we're here to help.
We’re looking for truth-seeking journalists in the old mould. That’s why we spelled mould with a u.
Seriously though, if you want to submit articles to us [and we want you, too] you’ll need a fundamental understanding of our style. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to learn.
Maybe you have potential, but you’re not quite there yet. Or maybe you’re already a certified wizard. Either way, our team of Editors is on hand to make your content sparkle.
A WORD ON OUR APPROACH
We try not to make major alterations to your work without your consent. If surface-level changes aren’t enough, we’ll work with you to find a solution.
We’ll also let you know if your content isn’t going to make the cut. Consult the submission checklist to avoid all that drama, and be sure to check the following to stay on course.
Title of article should be bold
By: Full Name
Word count: ###
Typed-up stories aren’t indented. Paragraphs should be about two to three sentences long, and try to use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial.
We aren’t in the numbers business, but even we know how many words a picture is worth. So we complement our articles with them.
We also use memes, GIFs, infographics, videos and any other kind of visual we can think of.
And while we can certainly provide an image for your article, we encourage you to supply your own. If you have materials that you think will work for what you’ve written, don’t hesitate to submit them alongside.
CLARITY: #1 goal of any communications expert. Use precise wording to make your articles easy to follow. Unnecessary or vague words do not add value and are interpreted differently by each reader: good, bad, really, typical, nice, fine, okay, normal, interesting, definitely, extremely, somewhat, quite, handsome, etc.
SHORT PARAGRAPHS: Keep paragraphs down to 2-3 sentences. This prevents you from writing fluff.
LEAD: Almost immediately, your readers need to know from you what they’ll be reading about, and they’ll need to be lured into reading it. Those are the two main purposes of the lead: to introduce the topic, and to pull the reader in.
-Attract the reader’s attention.
-Use a strong verb to tell what happened.
-Place this verb within the first seven words.
-Emphasize several news values.
-Summarize who, what, when, and where.
-Summarize why and how if there is room.
-Use less than 30 words and one or two sentences.
-Place attribution at the end, if applicable.
-The most newsworthy details should be listed first
-Use the active voice (“I ended the call”) over the passive (“The call was ended”).
-Use passive voice only if the performer of the action is inferred OR if the receiver of the action is more important than the action’s performer
QUOTES: Reporters are not the fount of all wisdom. Let the people you interviewed speak for themselves. It makes the article more true to life and more pleasurable to read.
-Should be: relevant, attributed, and enclosed by quotation marks.
-Reconsider quotes that do not add value to the story or that repeat a previous quote.
HYPERLINKS: When writing a story and you want to use hyperlinks to back your facts/data, be sure to highlight the word/phrase most relevant and pertinent to the contents of the link.
-Use “said” to maintain objectivity. (Always, use “said”)
-Avoid loaded attributive verbs: admitted, confessed, claimed, implied, insisted, etc.
-Use “added” when quoting two people about the same subject.
-Use “went on/continued” when there is only one speaker and he or she keeps talking.
-Use “pointed out” and “noted” only with statements of fact.
-Use “according to” with paraphrases, not direct quotes.
READABILITY INDEX: Given our target audience, ready-to-publish stories must score within the following range of either formulas.
-Flesch score: 65.0 – 90.
-Gunning Fog: 7.0 – 9.0
-Months: January, February, August, September, October, November and December when used with a specific date (Dec. 6).
-States preceded by a city, county, or military base name except: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah.
-Addresses that include St., Ave., or Blvd. when used in numbered addresses.
-Compass directions when used in numbered addresses (21 S. Spring St.).
-Use noon or midnight
-Use a.m. or p.m. for all other times: 6 p.m.
-Use day of the week if the event is seven days before or after the publication date.
-Use specific dates for distant events.
-Never use: yesterday, today, tomorrow.
-Spell out 1-9.
-Use figures for 10 and above, unless the number is the first word of the sentence.
-Use figures for ages: 3 years old.
-Use figures for dimensions: 6 inches.
-Use figures for percentages: 2 percent.
-Connect each paragraph logically to the next. Some techniques include showing cause and effect, sequence, similarities/differences or using transitional phrases/words and repetition (also, finally, for example, regardless, in fact, likewise, afterward, as a result, of course, however, etc.).
-Use precise verbs: “He jogged to the park,” rather than, “He went to the park.”
-Use precise nouns: “The teacher shouted,” rather than “The lady shouted.”
-Collective nouns: team, committee, Congress, group, class, crowd, family, band, etc.
-Use singular verbs and the pronoun “it”: “The band won its first Grammy. The group is proud.”
-Media is plural: “The news media are nosy.”
PREFIXES: Normally hyphenate if the prefix ends with the same letter the next word begins with (preempt, pre-election), if the next word is capitalized (post-Vietnam), or to join double prefixes (sub-subparagraph).
-Italicize: Web addresses, albums, movies, books and publication titles.
-Spell out Georgia State, unless used in a quote.
-Use “black people” (just as we say “white people”). If the subject’s immediate family is from an identifiable nation in Africa, use “African-American.”
-Do not use or spell out the “n-word”; use “n*(&” instead.
Commas (In short, no Oxford commas)
-Use in simple series but not before the last coordinating conjunction: “I like reading, writing, eating and studying.”
-Use in complex series: “I like peanut butter and jelly, donuts, and pancakes.”
-Use with equal adjectives: “The cheap, ugly, blue coat looks terrible.”
-Use between two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction: “I want As, but I don’t want to study.”
-Use with introductory words or phrases: meanwhile, in conclusion, therefore.
-Use with long introductory phrases: “After winning the Georgia lottery, I quit.”
-Use after an introductory dependent word group: “Since I ate, I’m not hungry.”
-Use with nonessential clauses: “Nichole, who works at the gym, exercises daily.”
-Use with contrasted elements: “Drink water, not soda.”
-Use between two independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction: “I like apples; peaches taste better.”
-Use to separate items containing commas: “Dan, the cook; Dee, the maid; and Jo quit.”
Use to introduce lists or explanations: “She has one goal: to win.” Dashes/Parentheses/Ellipsis: Use sparingly.
-If a word is acting as an adj. for another adj. (also known as a compound modifier), hyphenate the entire term: well-dressed (she is dressed, and she is dressed well).
-It’s “hip-hop,” not “hip hop.”
-Editorial title. Capitalize and hyphenate as a formal title before a name: Editor-in-Chief John Smith. After a name, it’s lowercase and doesn’t require hyphens: John Smith, the editor in chief.
-Please check AP style guide when in doubt.
-And/or – use only one.
-Thing/stuff – name it.
-Cliches and jargon: e.g.,“short but sweet,” “crystal clear.”
-Redundancy: past history, 10 p.m. tonight, me myself, future plans, etc.
-Wordiness: not yet known/unknown; announced the names of/identified.