Post Guidelines

This document outlines our guidelines and requirements for every post we produce. Before writing or editing for us, you must read and understand these  rules. The column on the right provides examples to illustrate each point!

Revised November 9, 2018

Write posts that educate and intrigue, not advertise.

We’re here to offer real value to readers, not to sell them on something. Avoid excessive mentions of a company, brand, product, etc. This extends to links, images, and more.

For example,

Contribute an example: wave@publoft.com 

Prove your arguments.

Make sure to use more than one example to back up any point you make. Is a statement only partially correct? This normally happens with overgeneralizations, such as “most people do X” but unless backed by a source, it’s best to say “many people do X.”

Similarly, could a statement be disputed or categorized as opinionated? Stick to the facts and back up your claims with multiple examples, as much as you can.

For example,

Most Many Europeans speak another language, according to Pew Research Center.

Give us context.

Is something stated as “obvious” CERTAINLY obvious to every person on Earth?! Be very careful with statements like “it’s obvious that…” unless the statement has near-unanimous consent from science/humankind—such as “hydration is vital to people.” Don’t make readers feel stupid. Remember that not everyone knows what you know. If something could be clarified, it probably should be.

For example,

Everyone knows birds are reptiles, but did you know...

“Wait, birds are reptiles?”
— Readers

Use the source. 🙌

If you state a fact, use a source (this includes numbers and statistics). Double-check how reliable your sources are. And don’t ever quote Wikipedia itself unless that page contains original content and has been protected by moderators.

Source your quotes correctly. Quotes should be attributed to the person, body of work, or entity that is responsible for “saying” it.

For example,

Contribute an example: wave@publoft.com 

Don’t forget who the customer is!

You write for PubLoft, but you’re really  writing for our customers. Avoid mentions of their competitors—even indirectly. This includes links to content, even when it’s a great source of information. We always need to get express permission from our customer to use these.

For example,

Contribute an example: wave@publoft.com 

Use external links.  

Include external links whenever you have the opportunity to add value. Hyperlink text in a relevant way. “Pandas ate 3 tons of bamboo” Ask yourself, is this hyperlink attached to the best word/phrase? And keep hyperlinks short. Linking an entire sentence is just distracting.

For example,

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Use internal links.

Get familiar with the customer’s existing blog posts—especially the work we have done for them—and include relevant internal links whenever possible. This helps boost their SEO, on-site retention, and brand authority!

Don’t use hyperlinks in any heading or subheading—only in the body.

For example,

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Simplify.

Can a point be made with fewer words? Don’t waste a reader’s time—trim the fat as much as possible. Sometimes, jargon is necessary—especially abbreviations and acronyms unique to an industry. Write them out completely the first time, with the short version in parentheses so readers remember when you use it later on.

For example,

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a pharmaceutical produced with cannabidiol (CBD).

Be active!

In an active sentence, the subject is doing the action. In passive voice, the subject is actually the target of the action, even though it isn’t doing anything. Passive voice can make sentences difficult to follow. Write with active voice whenever possible, which makes it clear who’s performing the action.

For example,

I heard it through the grapevine. 🎵

It was heard by me through the grapevine.

Punctuation saves lives—and deserves a designer’s touch.  

Commas are great—use them! And always put commas and periods inside the end quotation marks, “like this.”

We use em dashes, with no spaces between the words. We don’t use double dashes or—retch—hyphens for dashes.

"Straight quotes" are ugly and typographically incorrect. Use those “curly quotes” every time—this applies to both ‘single quotes’ and “double quotes,” but only use single quotes for quotes within quotes as well as headlines and subheads. NOWHERE ELSE.

Use single spaces after periods. Play it again, Sam: NO DOUBLE SPACES AFTER SENTENCES.

Only use bullets for lists of short items. If dividing a list sentence into bullets, be mindful of structure, commas, and the “and” operator on the second to last line. If it’s more than one sentence, it should probably be in a subsection instead.

Classic example:

Let’s eat, Grandma!

Let’s eat Grandma!  😱🧟‍♀️

Thus, we ate

  • dinner,
  • dessert, and
  • Grandma.

Sections and headings get a special mention.

Use Heading 2 (H2) for most sections, and Heading 3 (H3) for subsections. In most cases, it’s better to use a series of H3 subheadings than bullets.

Capitalize only the first word (and proper nouns) in headings. Remember: don’t use hyperlinks in any heading or subheading—only in the body.

Headings should all have the same, parallel format. If the first one is a full sentence, they should all be full sentences. If one uses a verb, they should all use a verb in the same tense.

For example,

Contribute an example: wave@publoft.com

Hyphens also get a special mention.

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the appropriate use of hyphens. For starters, use hyphens in simple or compound modifiers that come before the word they’re modifying.

Avoid hyphens when combining an adverb with a participle.

For example,

This wall is load bearing. This load-bearing wall is ready to collapse, even though it was specially built.

It’s a numbers game.

Write out numbers less than 10, except when using them with the word “percent.” Percent is always used as a word, not as a symbol (%), except in charts. Numbers 10 and higher are written as numerals, unless they are the first word in a sentence. Years always use numerals. Use “more than” rather than “over” with numbers.

For example,

Contribute an example: wave@publoft.com

Modifiers hate hanging! 😱

Would something make more sense if the phrase or sentence order were reversed? This often happens with long lists, such as: “…men who do these, women who do those, and children who do all of them are impacted by this issue.

For example,

Covered in delicious sauce, Michelle ate her slice of pizza… 🤔

Be interesting.

Headings, points, and whole passages can be written generically, or they can have character. Whenever possible, find a more interesting turn of phrase without sacrificing meaning.

Vary your sentence length, especially where it can improve the reading experience. Would two simple sentences be better if combined? Would a long, complex sentence be better if split into two or more? And remember semicolons; they are awesome.

Be careful with one-sentence paragraphs. Using them too often can feel clunky. Two to three sentences is typically a great length for a paragraph.

For example,

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Corporations are not people (and no, this isn’t political).

Companies, organizations, and government agencies are always singular, so refer to each one as “it,” never “they.” Same thing with audiences: an audience is not a “them.”

On the reverse, only use “who” if you’d refer to the noun as “him” or “her.”

For example,

This program applies to any company that values its employees’ safety.

Find beautiful, relevant images from royalty-free sources.

There are great royalty-free photo sources out there, like Pexels and Unsplash, that offer free stock photography for commercial use. Find amazing photos that are truly relevant to the content. Steer clear of anything remotely resembling a bad, “stock-looking” photo. Google the term if you need an idea of what “bad” looks like.

And always remember to use full-size, maximum resolution images in your posts! This ensures that they look as beautiful as possible in the final published work.

Classic “stock” image:

Great meta descriptions get more clicks.

Make sure to include a meta description at the beginning of every post. It should be catchy, provide value to the reader at a glance on a search results page, and be between 120-150 characters—not words—per Google requirements.

For example,

Are you a cannabis-curious owner looking into CBD for dogs? Learn the best way to introduce dog hemp treats and CBD oil to your pet with this handy guide.

Repetitive repetition reeks!

Be careful how often you repeat the same words or phrases, or make the same points. 😉 It happens to the best of us—just be conscious of it, and push your creative word choice.

For example,

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Got more to add?

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