Style & Submission Guidelines
Reputation is everything
We stand or fall on our reputation; our reputation as a media organization, as well as our individual reputations. In order to bolster both of these, it is absolutely vital that we create total consistency in style and formatting, throughout the site; this tells the reader that we are professionals and it speaks to the integrity of the articles they find on the Guardian Express website.
Although different websites – and print publications – develop their own guidelines for style and formatting, they all base these guidelines upon the AP Stylebook. It is strongly recommended that every one of our writers obtain a copy of this book, or take out an online subscription. Be warned, however; the AP Stylebook is very extensive and extremely daunting! Do not expect that you will be able to study and memorize it. If you can, I want to become your publicist, because, together, we will make a huge amount of money!
The following rules lay the groundwork for the Guardian Express style guide. Over time, we will add to – and expand upon – these guidelines. They must be followed by every Guardian Express writer. Certainly, everyone should have this file open, or readily available for reference, when writing an article. After a time, the style guidelines will become second nature. We shall begin with some basics.
If you do not have the AP Stylebook and you have a specific question on formatting, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and, although I do not guarantee you an instant reply, I will get back to you with the answer to your question, as soon as I am able.
Plagiarism, basically, means copying someone else’s work (or even their ideas). A famous person once said “there is nothing new under the sun,” meaning that nothing is completely original; anything and everything that is created today was influenced – to a greater or lesser extent – by something that has gone before. Regardless of legal definitions, it is difficult to precisely define plagiarism.
The Guardian Express has a very simple rule, regarding plagiarism: ALL ARTICLES MUST BE ORIGINAL WORK! There are no exceptions, unless we were in a situation where – for whatever reason – we had been given permission to reproduce someone else’s work.
What plagiarism means for us:
If you copy someone else’s writings and try to pass it off as your own, you will destroy your own reputation – not to mention possibly finding yourself in legal trouble. Other than never again writing for the Guardian Express, which is a certainty, you will probably never again be employed, as a writer, by anyone.
By publishing an article that is not original work, the Guardian Express risks – other than a potential lawsuit – being completely ostracized by Google; which could destroy the business overnight. If that were not bad enough, our reputation would be shredded.
Many journalists write articles based on other articles; unless a publication is breaking a story from its own sources, everybody is reporting the same news. However; it is not acceptable to copy someone else’s article and neither is it acceptable to re-word someone else’s article.
When researching a story idea, a writer should be reading at least three different sources; either news articles or other sources of related information. Having done this, the writer can recount the event in their own words, using the information they have gathered. Ideally, the writer should be tracing the story back to the original source: If you want to write an article about the George Zimmerman trial, for example, you can find video coverage of the trial itself, the transcripts of telephone calls, previous interviews with defense or prosecution attorneys, etc. Having studied these, it is then possible for you to create an original article.
The Final word on this is that any writer found plagiarizing someone else’s work will be permanently banned from writing for the Guardian Express and will, in addition, forfeit all rights to royalties from their articles.
The first letter of all words in headlines must be capitalized, other than certain conjunctives, such as “and”, “the”, “to”, “at”, etc. The Easiest Way to Ensure Correct Capitalization is to Use the Conversion Tool at www.titlecase.com. Simply paste your title into the left-hand box and hit the ‘convert’ button; your correctly capitalized title will appear in the right-hand box, for you to copy and paste.
Try – as much as possible – to keep your title as short as you can. Make one point with your title; do not ramble or try to make multiple statements, so that the reader knows, at a glance, what the focus of the article is.
Use as little punctuation in article titles as you can. Craft your titles to make sense without punctuation, if you can. If your title requires punctuation, however, then use it! Nothing looks worse than a title that is grammatically incorrect.
Acceptable: Justin Bieber’s Monkey Seeks Asylum
Not acceptable: Justin Biebers Monkey Seeks Asylum
You’ll find plenty of articles that are ranked highly on Google News that contain question marks, colons, semi-colons, apostrophes and commas. Use when necessary, but try to avoid using punctuation in article titles if you can.
Justin Bieber Surprised as Monkey Seeks Asylum
When writing numbers, spell out one through nine. Numbers greater than nine should be represented by numerals; You may be able to come up with nine reasons why you think Justin Bieber is fabulous, but I can give you 10 reasons why I do not agree.
When referring to positions or ranks (mainly for sports writers), use No. 1, No. 2, No. 50, etc. Do not write Number 1, or #1.
Monetary figures should be represented as numbers, preceded by the symbol that represents the currency: $10, $100, $500, $10,000. An amount of $1 million or above should be written as shown: $5 million, $787 billion, etc. Do not write “$500 million dollars”; this is redundant, as you have used the dollar symbol and there is no need to include the word “dollars.”
When writing a date that includes the day, month and year, abbreviate the month, write the day as a number and separate the year with a comma. Always capitalize the month:
The Declaration of Independence was signed on Jul. 4, 1776.
Correct abbreviations for months: Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
If writing only the month and year, spell out the month, with no comma before the year: July 1776, September 2001.
Centuries should be represented as follows: 20th century, 18th century, 21st century. As with regular numbers, anything less than 10 should be written; first century, ninth century.
Names and Titles
Obviously, names of people and places are capitalized. Official titles are also capitalized, as in President Barack Obama. Less formal titles are not capitalized. Sports writers, in particular, should keep that in mind; Tony Dungy, former coach of the Indianapolis Colts; Hernandez, a former tight end with the New England Patriots.
All country and city names should be capitalized: Botswana, Los Angeles, Syria, Edinburgh.
When writing the titles of books, articles, movies, television programs or songs, do not use quotation marks; simply italicize the quoted title. Recording artists and bands, however, are not emphasized:
Acceptable: Watching the movie Blazing Saddles, whilst trying to read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and listening to the Misfits – all at the same time – is extremely confusing.
Not acceptable: Although Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” is one of their most well known works, The Final Cut is, arguably, a more creative album..
When emphasizing a word or phrase in an article, you should italicize. Do not use bold type or UPPERCASE letters to emphasize; this is neither professional, nor correct.
Avoid abbreviating altogether; it is simply not accepted as a formal, professional way of writing.
Acceptable: She is scheduled to appear on The View next week; They are calling for Justin Bieber’s monkey to be imprisoned.
Not acceptable: He’s anti-gun, but he has armed bodyguards; It’s going to be a great contest.
On occasion, it is acceptable to write in the first or second person; if reporting an incident in which you, the writer, were directly involved, for instance. Normally, however, all news articles, op-eds and analysis pieces are written in the third person.
First Person: Me, I, my, mine.
Second Person: You, your, yours.
Third Person: He, she, they, their
Professional news articles do not contain lists. Do not use bullet-point or numbered lists in your articles. If you wish to make a number of separate points, simply list them as separate paragraphs. Sub-headings should be avoided, but if you really feel that your article needs to be divided into sections, then separate the sections with a double space and then put your sub-heading for that section in bold – in the same way that the sections of this guide are formatted.
Embedded, or In-text, Links
Do not embed links to other sites within your article. This may encourage the reader to navigate away from our site, in order to read the information to which you have linked. The only links you should be placing within the body of your text – if at all – should be links to related articles on the Guardian Express website. Links to Wikipedia articles are not acceptable; whilst Wikipedia is an acceptable source of basic, background information on a specific person or event, it should not be considered a definitive source of accurate information. Certainly, the Guardian Express should not be publicizing the fact that Wikipedia has been used in the research of any article.
The Guardian Express occupies a unique position in the media world. Our willingness to publish opinion that spans the entire political spectrum sets us apart from all others: The mainstream, Liberal media refuses to provide a Right-wing viewpoint; The Conservative media (mainly online) does not put forward the Liberal perspective. In boldly choosing to publish both, we assume an enormous moral, ethical and professional responsibility; to educate, inform and then allow the reader to choose, analyze and decide where they stand, on a given issue.
In the interests of preserving this unparalleled position, we do not wish to impose too many restrictions on what we are – and are not – prepared to publish. However; we should always keep in mind that each of us has a duty to present our respective argument in an informed, logical and civil fashion.
There already exist countless political blogs, both Right- and Left-wing, that express hate, intolerance, bigotry and extremism, with little or no credible source for their views. We shall leave the ranting and raving to them.
Our political articles will meet the following standards:
- They will contain substance. The most respected and widely-read political analysts and pundits on the internet, be they Liberal or Conservative, cite quotes, polls, statistics, studies and accounts of actual events, in order to justify their views, analysis and predictions. It is not acceptable to write an article title that expresses an opinion and then provide – within the article – no credible information that substantiates that opinion. If the article merely opines, but does not inform and educate, it does not belong on our site.
- They will not contain extreme statements. One could argue that the definition of ‘extreme’ is subjective, depending on one’s beliefs. Therefore, we are obliged to define the word for our purposes. Extremist language will be deemed to include the following:
- Personal insults. Whilst we may express the opinion that a certain individual is clueless, ill-informed, uneducated, ignorant (and point out why they are so), we shall not insult a person’s physique, family, gender, skin-color, sexual preference, race or religion.
- Incitement of hatred or violence. We may describe an individual as deserving arrest, impeachment, imprisonment, investigation, termination from whatever position or occupation they hold, etc., but we will not wish physical harm or death upon them, merely because we do not agree with their politics.
- The word “hate” should be avoided: It is impossible to prove that any individual or group “hates” another unless you can cite an actual quote or speech in which the word, or some derivative of it, is used. To say that one person, one political party or one ethnic or religious group hates another is almost always purely subjective. As an example: One could say that Republicans “hate” women, because they are opposed to abortion, but one could also argue that Democrats “hate” children, since they so enthusiastically promote abortion; both statements are merely extreme assertions and entirely un-provable. Writers would be well-advised to avoid using the word; it is, simply, unprofessional to make such an accusation unless you can provide unquestionable evidence to corroborate it.
- They will contain honest information. It is unacceptable to make statements that can be proven false, to recount an incident that did not happen or to accredit a statement to someone who did not make it.
The Guardian Express, truly, has the potential to become the most read and cited political opinion site on the internet. We should all aspire to the very highest standards of integrity, respectability, professionalism and insight, whilst promoting our respective views with passion and fearless commitment.
Health and Science
Health and Science articles should be corroborated by legitimate, peer-reviewed research and/or studies. Any article that promotes a theory, speculative conclusions, or metaphysical beliefs and practices must always be clearly labelled as such and should be written in a manner that states, honestly, that the subject-matter is not verified by conclusive scientific or medical research. Science-related articles should be labelled as “metaphysical.” This is a category under science, in the list of categories. Health-related articles should be labelled “alternative,” which is under the “health” category.
Graham J Noble