Please remember at all times that our articles are meant to educate and help readers. This is true regardless of the purpose or topic of the article or page. For regular articles, please try to ensure that the content directly addresses and provides a solution to the keyword that was used to find it; we should always provide an answer to what the reader is looking for – not instructions on where to find the answer. I have provided the writing style guide below for articles and web pages, as well as a new guide and example for press releases – please familiarize yourself with both of them.
Common Editorial Issues
I just wanted to add a note that as an editor myself (which I have been doing solely with my company over the last 2 years), I have a set method that I proof articles which ensures they are 100% and also saves time. Firstly, check:
- The format and font (short intro/concluder, evenly sized paragraphs, Calibri size 11 from top to bottom, narrow margins etc.).
- The title and sub header for spelling and to ensure prepositional words are not capitalized.
- Double spaces after sentences or between words are removed.
- Lines are all neat and there are no rogue lines that have been accidentally entered down.
- Empty space at the bottom of the article is removed.
- There are no double words or manual misspellings.
From here you can look for keyword usage and then start reading the content to ensure it is well written, grammatically correct, education etc. ALWAYS keep in mind that you are the last person who will see the article before it reaches the client so it should be PERFECT. Note that the client may request another format so quickly read the article/batch notes before proofing the article.
Writing Style Guide for Standard Articles and Web Pages
Tip: For regular articles, please try to ensure that the content directly addresses and provides a solution to the keyword that was used to find it; we should always provide an answer to what the reader is looking for – not instructions on where to find the answer.
Samples can be found here: http://www.articlemarketingco.com/samples
The style guide listed below should be followed for all articles and pages unless stated otherwise. The reason for the style guide is to ensure that all articles are uniformly written in the correct manner and are both easy to read and aesthetically pleasing. Just remember that every article written should stay on topic and should be very helpful to the audience that it is addressed to. Below are the listed guidelines:
- Articles must be written in Calibri, Size 11.
- Please use narrow margin formatting (the same as this document).
- All articles must by default be written for an American audience (this includes American English spelling).
- Keywords should be used at least 5 times in the article. In some cases, this is the title.
- Articles are generally 500 words by default, or otherwise stated. Always meet and exceed the word count.
- Each paragraph needs to be short (Average 5 lines – occasionally a large 4 or small 6 is okay) and evenly sized compared to the other paragraphs. One paragraph per sub header.
- Each paragraph should be sub headed.
- Sub headers should be capitalized (i.e. Except for Prepositional Words) and placed in bold.
- Name the file as the title (unless instructed otherwise)
- The title must be bold and placed at the top centre of the article.
- Don´t ever generalize and always address the article title.
- Avoid the use of personalization terms such as “I”, “we” or “our” and moderately use “you”. In addition, never address a person as “one”. These might be subject to change for certain assignments.
- Remember that articles need to be authoritative and informative with no repetition!
- All articles must have a short introduction as well as a concluder (or “call to action”) – 2 to 4 lines.
- Always proof read an article more than once for grammar, syntax and spelling mistakes.
- Avoid starting sequential sentences with the same words or phrases.
- Please use more than one source for research and ensure that articles are 100% accurate.
- Under no circumstances must an article be copied or rewritten. Any hint of this will result in suspension.
- Any “how-to” articles should be written in a step by step manner (i.e. introduction, Step 1: title, Step 2: title, Step 3: title etc., concluder).
- Write numbers numerically at all times, although context may require them to be written in word format.
- Use symbols instead of words (i.e. “%” instead of “percentage”).
Logical Progression and Flow
One aspect of professional article writing that some people neglect to consider is that of logical progression and flow. Always try to craft an article in a logical order so that it is easy for the reader to digest. In addition, sentence flow is important; each sentence should be a complete thought for instance and shouldn´t be cut short.
For example – this is poorly written:
“An ecologist is a scientist who studies systems. Ecologists usually spend between 2 and 4 weeks a year in field research. Most of the work is accomplished in a laboratory setting. Written communication skills are vital in this career. Minimum training is a 4 year science degree. Many jobs in this field require a master’s degree in ecological science or a related field such as geology, chemistry or biology.”
And should be written more like:
“An ecologist is a scientist who studies systems with most of their work accomplished in a laboratory setting. As a result, written communication skills are vital in this career but an ecologist will also spend at least 2 to 4 weeks a year in field research. The minimum training required to become an ecologist is a 4 year science degree with many jobs requiring a master´s degree in ecological science or a related field such as geology, chemistry or biology.”
Writing Style Guide for Press Releases
A press release is written communication that purports to report an event, circumstance or occurrence by a third party. It is then provided to news media for promotion, and as a result should be formatted correctly so that is will be accepted for distribution. Be very careful to ensure that the press release is newsworthy and not written as an advertisement (even if it will be indirectly used as such).
At the top left corner, provide the phrase: “For Immediate Release”
Summary: Short purpose of the press release.
Headline: This needs to be creative and longer than a regular title. Capitalize the beginning of each word and don’t use an exclamation point as this might come across as advertising.
Date: Written fully (i.e. 18th September 2012).
- Paragraph 1
Physical location (country, state, city), Month, Day, Year – Begin with a strong introductory paragraph that captures the reader’s attention and contains the information most relevant to your message such as the “Five W’s” of (W)ho, (W)hat, (W)hen, (W)here, and (W)hy, when applicable. This paragraph should summarize the News Release such that if it was the only part seen by a reader, it would tell your entire message, and it should include a hook to get your audience interested in reading more.
- Paragraph 2, 3, 4, …
These paragraphs should contain more detailed important information, and make up the body of the release. Pick up with the information provided in your first paragraph, including quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts. Make sure you use correct grammar so as not to affect your credibility negatively.
As for content, make sure to keep in mind that you are writing a press release to grab the attention of the media. It is very important to maintain factual accuracy, make sure you are cleared to use quotes or information about businesses, and most importantly have an angle that will appeal to journalists (often by connecting your release to current events or issues). Effective releases usually utilize a strategy known as the inverted pyramid, which is written with the most important information and quotes first.
Company Information: Provide information about the company in paragraph format.
End of Press Release: Use the symbols “###” to signify the end of the press release.
Please write these using our general font guidelines used with our regular articles, and ensure the paragraphs are short (perhaps shorter than usual) and evenly sized – do not use sub headers.
Press Release Example:
For Immediate Release
Summary: The purpose of this release is to inform the readers that GrapplersInc.com’s flexible grabber tools are able to easily reach under beds and into difficult-to-reach corners.
Flexible Grabber Tool Allows People to Reach Under Beds and Into Corners
September 20, 2011
For many people, especially those who are aging, injured or disabled, reaching under beds and into corners to do the simplest tasks can be very difficult. Grapplers Inc. has developed a flexible grabber tool that makes these tasks very easy to accomplish. The grab tool, called the Grappler, works like an extension of the arm, making it easy to pick up items with a simple squeeze of the hand; even items that are in hard-to-reach corners or under the bed.
The flexible grabber tool eliminates the need for harmful and sometimes painful bending and stretching, so individuals can easily do housework or projects that require reaching into difficult spots. Even for individuals who are young and healthy, the Grappler makes chores easier, allowing men and women to get them done in a faster amount of time. They’re also great for picking up things most individuals wouldn’t want to touch with their bare hands, and can handle items as small as a toothpick.
The flexible grabber tool available from Grapplers Inc. is 100% made in the USA, and is created from aluminum so it’s lightweight and easy to manage; never bulky or uncomfortable to use. Grapplers Inc. has been creating reach extension grabbers and commercial litter pick up tools for nearly twenty years and is one of the few companies to still manufacture their items completely in the US. These are a great gift idea for those who are aging or who find it difficult to accomplish household or yard chores.
Individuals can learn more about these flexible grabber tools by browsing through the selection at http://www.GrapplersInc.com.
About the Company:
Grapplers Inc. was established in 1992 making reach extension grabbers and commercial litter pick up tools. They pride themselves on making quality products as well as ensuring that they’re manufactured in the USA, and paying close attention to their customers’ wants and needs. The company meets all ISO 9001.2008 certified company standards, ensuring a safe workplace and the highest quality products.
Editorial Guideline for Press Releases
Press releases should always be written in a way that promotes newsworthy and accurate content in an acceptable format. All of the following guidelines should be followed when writing press releases:
- Content should be interesting and newsworthy. It is important to remember that not everything is news. Press releases should contain only information that is considered newsworthy; they should never be written with a promotional angle or seem like common interest articles. Some of the topics that are considered newsworthy include the release of a new product or service, an expansion or other recent event within a business, the receipt of an award by a business, the anniversary of a business, or the publication of an expert opinion or tip sheet that refers to a topic that is currently popular in the news.
- Everything should be legally accurate. If a press release is in reference to a court case, legal action or criminal matter, the press release is required to contain the case number, venue, complaint number and any other necessary documentation.
- They should contain valid, up-to-date contact information. All press releases must contain a valid telephone number and email address in the contact information section.
- Writers should take an objective tone. Press releases should avoid directly addressing a reader, person or group. This means that “I”, “you” and “we” should always be avoided unless they are being used within a quote from a spokesperson of a company or group. When direct addresses are used, this signifies that the content is an advertisement or promotion and not a press release. Other things, referred to as “hype flags”—describing a product or service using words like “amazing” or “fantastic”, making embellished claims about a product or service, using all-caps to emphasize words and using exclamation points—should be avoided as this can take away from the credibility of your press release.
- Obtain written authorization when necessary. In some cases, such as when certain logos or stock tickers are used, with major network marketing companies and when releasing major corporate announcements, you may need to obtain written consent from a company representative before creating press release content. Some of the groups who must always obtain written consent from a company executive include representatives of network marketing, party planning and MLM companies.
- Keep press release within standard length. Press releases should be between 300 and 800 words in length in order to improve their distribution. Search engines index documents based upon their length as well as other factors, so those that are too short or too long may not be properly indexed. Similarly, the “Summary” portion of the release should be one to two sentences in length—never longer.
- Immaculate spelling and grammar is necessary. As with any content that will be published on the web, it is important to ensure that press releases are free from spelling and grammatical errors. It is allowable to use jargon and acronyms in press releases when these will help with the ranking of the press release, but these should always be defined within the content so that the average reader will understand what they mean.
- Follow formatting guidelines. Press releases cannot contain things such as HTML tags, characters that are non-standard, tables or line breaks that are forced. They should not be written either partially or entirely in all caps. Always ensure that the links contained within the press release function and that they take the reader to the proper destination. If for any reason the website is down or not fully functional at the time that the press release is being written, the links should be removed from the content or the content should not be published until the links work.
- Identify the news source. The headline of a press release should clearly define the news source, which is the company or organization that is issuing the release. When a company or firm will be distributing the release on behalf of a client, then the distributing company or firm should be listed as the source. Also, it is important to note how the company or firm is related to the news announcement.
- Avoid including email addresses outside of the contact section. Email addresses should never be used within the body of a press release unless there are mitigating circumstances and it is absolutely necessary to do so. In the event that this is the case, email addresses should be formatted as: Name (at) Domain (dot) Com.
- Financial visibility releases have their own guidelines. When an individual or company is asking for a press release in order to portray financial visibility, these documents follow a different set of guidelines.
Some of the things that should not be distributed in the form of a press release include:
- Advertisements – Press releases cannot be promotional in any way. These documents are intended to be presented to consumers in a way that provides an educational news angle and should never be an attempt to sell or promote products and services. Good press releases are informative and geared toward various media outlets and consumers in general. If at any point the press release sounds like an advertisement or promotion, it should be rewritten.
- Personal Opinion – Press releases cannot contain any content or information that is intended to cause harm to any person, group or entity. While press releases that are of a political nature or that contain information about public policy and other sensitive issues are acceptable, proper quoting, sourcing and accreditation are necessary in these cases. These press releases should not contain excessive embellishments, and accusations that are unsubstantiated should be avoided.