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Editor's Checklist: Website Consistency

By       Message Rady Ananda     Permalink
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** Emphasis within articles sometimes putting ?!? in the article makes sense and fits what the writer is doing. But, too often, some writers overly rely on bolding, italics, large type, color changes, and exclamatory punctuation to stress their points. This is usually the mark of poor writing, or of an advertisement. If it's a piece about several events then these tools are useful, but in a well-written op-ed piece, bolding and italics will be sparingly used, if at all. Bolded headings within an article represent another exception, especially in long articles.

** Remove the byline from the article text; it's okay to leave the author name in the article text if it's at the bottom and includes copyright info, or bio, or other relevant info related to the author. Italicize the bio at the bottom. EXCEPTION: If the member's "handle" is a blog-type pseudonym, but the author includes his/her real name at the top of the article (so that it doesn't get posted as a diary), then the byline at the top of the article stays. ANOTHER EXCEPTION: Sometimes, articles are posted in a member's name but have been jointly written with someone else. The byline indicating full authorship should be at the top.

** Remove "THE END" or #### or any other indication that the article has ended. This includes press releases.


** Titles do not end in a period; they can end in a question mark or, rarely, in an exclamation point, but only one. None of this !!!! or ?!? We're more than a blog site and we need to reflect that in our titles.

** Remove the title from the article text. We already have a spot for title and author. The article textbox is just for the text of the piece (with exceptions noted above).

** Think about the title: Does it convey what the article is about? Is it brief? Now, most folks don't like their title changed so be very judicious with this, but remember, we specifically state in our Writers Guidelines that OEN reserves the right to change titles. Sometimes, the title is deliberately obscure, so you'll have to use your judgment. But many article titles need help; those that do usually need to be shortened. One way of compromising with authors who write long titles is to change the title as you see fit, but then put their full "title" as a header on the first line of the article. You can even bold it for emphasis.

Also see Rob's tips on how to make your titles Search-Engine Optimized, so that the search engines pick up your article and allow more people to read it.

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** Look at the article description box. Check for spelling or punctuation errors. Does the description fairly represent the article? Is it provocative or interesting? Remove "This article is about..." or "This article describes..." Make the description direct, e.g.

DON'T: This article is about how climate change is melting the ice caps. It describes the feedback process of methane release that further warms the surface air.

DO: Climate change is melting the ice caps. As the caps melt, methane is released, further warming the surface air in a feedback loop.

In other words, when describing the article, assert its theme directly.

** In the article itself, check for spelling, punctuation and grammar; sentence construction; logical flow, etc... all the regular things editors look at when editing.

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** Fix the paragraph breaks if necessary (use HTML code: p surrounded by the less-than and greater-than signs; or use Notepad). If you get a submission that's a single paragraph, you can reject it for formatting. But, if it's 500 words or less, you can usually figure out where the paragraph breaks should be.

** You can correct factual errors, too; authors greatly appreciate this.

** Make sure the article is in the correct category-- op-ed, news, life/arts/science, or diary.

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In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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