TeachThought Style Guide: 2018 Style Guide For Web Content
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The best ‘Style Guide’ is likely existing TeachThought content. That said, not all of our content has been created with style guide best practices. Here are three can be used to guide you as you create content.
The use of an ‘ideal reader’ that you keep in mind while writing can help guide your ideas and improve the ‘accuracy’ of your post.
If you want to email me to ask about angles, ideas, and other suggestions on content, doing so before writing can save both of us a lot of time. To that point, any time spent pre-writing (doing research, organizing ideas, etc) makes your writing better and quicker (less need for revision).
Have someone else read your post before submitting to find typos. (I am the king of typos—this is how I know.)
Consider reading your writing out loud so that you can more easily identify clunky sentences, unclear ideas, etc.
Most posts should have a clear thesis. This can/should appear once towards the beginning, be reiterated (or evolved) in the conclusion, and can also appear (re-worded) in the title itself.
All titles will be written/revised/approved by me (Terry Heick), but the closer they are in tone/aesthetic to TeachThought content, the less they will need to be revised
All words are capitalized
Should be insightful and/or compelling; clarify the utility or benefit of the content without misleading reader; if you wouldn’t want to read the post based on the title, change the content and/or title so that you would : )
Headings and subheadings should make reading easier by organizing the main points while also allowing readers to skim and find what they’re looking for more easily
All headings/subheadings use bold font
Always use H1/H2/H3 subheadings (as of Jan 2018, this is a new development for us so right now the vast majority of our content doesn’t use them; this will change over the coming year). See/skim here for a quick overview.
Use one space between sentences.
Avoid emaciated language (e.g., ‘a lot’…’very’..’.big’). Use interesting words without sounding like you’re trying to use interesting words.
Do not indent paragraphs.
Use transitions (e.g.,m ‘On the other hand,’ ‘With this in mind…’Beyond that…’….’Alternatively…’
In most numbered lists (ask me if uncertain), use periods at the end of itemized content (a tip or strategy, for example) if it’s a complete sentence, but don’t if it’s not.
Use of contractions is fine. In general, try to make the writing as readable as possible without sacrificing voice/quality.
Tone: This depends on the context being created, whether it’s an editorialized essay, list of tools and resources, news-like content, etc. In general, the tone should be somewhere between plain and intellectual without being haughty.
Paragraphs should generally be 3-5 sentences, though shorter or longer can work as a matter of writing style.
Posts should be long enough to be useful/insightful/compelling/informative. This can be as few as 500 words and as many as 1200 or more.
Words & Phrases
- Write words for numbers 1-10, numbers for 10+
- Use American-ized versions of language (e.g., flavor not flavour)
- Hyphenate terms and phrases that necessitate it, including ‘projects-based learning, word-of-mouth, etc.
- eBook, eLearning, UbD, internet
- Use licensor spelling when available (e.g., iPad, iOS, facebook, PayPal, etc.)
- Do not link to anything from the ‘Archived’ category
- For all links to TeachThought content, products, and services, bold the anchor text
- Citing current or exemplary/relevant research is highly encouraged
- Cite the source of anything you didn’t think or write yourself
- Use the (Author last name, year) format when citing, then link to source in footer. ‘Example: UbD offers an explanation for inquiry in the classroom.’ (Wiggins, 1994)
- Use only CC-licensed images, or images you have rights to. Always link to source of licensed image
- Images should be sized 4:3; usually this means 756×567, but for larger/quality graphics where reading small text is necessary, 1000×750 (or even larger at times) can work
- Compelling images are as important as the content itself. Spend the time to create useful/compelling images—the long-term success of the post will make it worth it
- Always use the Oxford Comma and avoid comma splices.
- Use a single ‘quote’ mark when using a word or phrase ironically (…this is the ‘best’ solution when using multiple-choice assessments…), and “regular quotation marks” when quoting a person, text, etc.
- Use only one ‘s’ with apostrophe after word ending in ‘s’ to indicate possession (Jesus’ vs Jesus’s); use as correct elsewhere (to indicate possession by plural nouns—e. g., the cats’ paws left prints on the frosty windshield)
- Period goes on the inside of quotations
- Use Ampersands in Titles, headings, subheadings and social shares if it makes the text more readable
- You’re encouraged to use em-dashes, semi-colons and related punctuation, but do so sparingly
- Ellipses = three dots, unless it ends in a period when four are used