Guidelines for Blog Authors

Congratulations. You’ve been asked to submit an article for online content. Once you’ve settled the remuneration, schedule, and deadlines, you might want to ask for the format in which you should submit an article.

Don’t freak, however, if you get the email equivalent of a blank stare. The author wrangler may not be the content manager, nor are they necessarily the person in charge of cleaning up and posting the article. If it happens that you don’t get specific rules, these guidelines will make things simple for the person who posts your article.

  1. If at all possible, use a standard word processing program.

    MS Word, in its more modern versions, does an adequate job of cleaning out junk code and even has the option to post to several content management systems. But if you don’t have Word, OpenOffice or Google Docs is just fine, as long as you don’t try to get too specific with the layout.

  2. Don’t get cute with fonts. Just use the program defaults.

    I know you love Papyrus, or think that Times New Roman gives your work such a professional air. You may even have Views about appropriate fonts for the Internet. Don’t try to force this, as the person who posts your article needs to follow the blog stylesheet (they have them, even if your contact doesn’t realize it). There are exceptions to this. For instance, when you’re writing an article that requires you to show programming code. Courier New is a good basic font for this. (Why is beyond the scope of this article, but it has to do with ease of spacing). In general, however, there is little reason to be specific with fonts. For your article, run with your word processor’s default, even if you have to hold your nose to do it.

  3. Headings are important but use the heading styles rather than change the font sizes.

    Headings in blog posts are more than subtitles or ways to organize a longer article. Yes, that’s part of it, but search engines also give greater weight to text in headings. It is very important that if your word processing program has the Heading 1, Heading 2 (and so on) styles available that you use them as section headings in your article. Again, go with the defaults. Yes, that blue that MS Word uses for its standard template might make you wrinkle your nose. But it’s not going to matter when the content manager uploads the article to the blog’s CMS. The blogging software will translate those fonts and colors to whatever template and stylesheet that the blog’s web developer uses.

  4. Forget headers, footers, page numbers or forcing page breaks.

    That’s for print. It’s needless work on your part that the person posting your article will remove anyway.

  5. If layout is important, and you force it with a table, please explain to the webmaster why this might be.

    They might have ways to fix it that don’t use tables. Most blogs need to be mobile friendly, and if you force layout with a table, it may not translate well from a computer screen to a phone or tablet. If it’s too much of a pain to read, many people just won’t bother. You want people to read your work, yes?

  6. Don’t get fancy with image layout, either. Have each image on its own line.

    The same principle applies to images as tables. Forcing a layout that would be pleasing in print may translate very poorly to the varying screen sizes in which people will be reading your article. The friendlier your webmaster can make it for more screen sizes; the more people will read and love your work!

Author: Noël Figart

Noël Figart is a computer applications instructor, technical writer and editor.

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