✍️

Writing Guideline

🚩 Guiding Principles

Following these principles will help us write with purpose.

Simple

Simple words and sentences are always preferred. Edit ruthlessly.

Human

We should speak with our audience instead of at them. Warm and relatable is always better than corporate and cold.

Considered

Always consider the audience. What is most helpful? What is most relevant?

Contextual

Always take context into account. Adjust tone to match who you're writing for and what you're writing about.

🎨 UI Guidelines

Thoughtful UI writing adds context to visual interfaces.

Headings & Subheadings

  • Headings and subheadings help structure content.
  • Always use title case.
  • No punctuation unless the title is a question.
  • A page should only have one heading (H1).
  • Use subheadings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to make content more scannable.
  • Headings should follow a natural hierarchy. An H3 should be nested under an H2.
  • Relevant keywords should be included in headings, but SEO should not be the only factor considered when writing. We should speak like humans.

Navigation

  • Always use title case.
  • Clarity is key. Avoid ambiguous marketing-speak.

Buttons

  • Always include an action.
  • Capitalize every word.
  • Always be clear and concise.

Numbered Lists

  • Use for steps and sets of relevant information.
  • Use punctuation if one of the list items is a complete sentence.
  • Number lists when order is important (instructions, sequential processes).

Links

  • Include a link whenever referencing external content.
  • Avoid phrases like "click here." Instead, use language that describes the content you're linking to. For example: download our catalog.

Forms

  • Labels should be clear and concise.
  • Use title case for form titles.
  • Use sentence case for form fields.

Alt Text

  • Every image should have alt text.
  • Alt text briefly describes an image in one or two sentences.

SEO

  • Write for our audience, not for Google.
  • Use headings to appropriately structure content in a logical, parseable way.
  • Every image should have alt text.

📓 Grammar

Proper grammar promotes clarity and helps us speak in a professional voice.

Contractions

  • Contractions are encouraged. They add a friendly, informal tone.

Active Voice

Emoji

  • The occasional emoji can help convey emotion and add visual interest.
  • Use emojis tastefully and in moderation.

Slang & Terminology

  • Avoid slang. Write in plain English.
  • Technical terms should always be accompanied by a clear definition.

Acronyms

  • Always spell out acronyms word-for-word the first time they're used.
  • First use: Automatic Teller Machine
  • Second use: ATM
  • No need for a parenthetical.

To-do

HEADLINE

  1. Create a META description under 160 characters
  1. Would you type into Google?
    1. More info
      • Try this website for 190+ catchy idea titles
      • Use the Headline Analyzer in the Toolkit
      • Which would you click on?
      e.g. Use the Headline Analyzer in the Toolkit
      “How to Totally Shred Pounds of Fat and Uncover Your Dream Body in Only ONE Month!”
      or
      “Burn Fat with This Program!”
  1. Does it contain my Primary Keyword?
  1. Does it evoke curiosity?
  1. Is it less than 57 characters (google will cut off otherwise)?
  1. Is my headline clear? Do they know exactly what they are clicking on?
  1. Am I using emotions?
    1. More info
      If you can invoke a common desire within your headline, it will appeal to more people. (how to, fast, easy, best, review, tips, fix pain)
  1. Does it contain a popular keyword?
  1. Headline Formula
    1. More info
      Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise

INTRODUCTION

  1. Am I hooking my readers?
    1. More info
      You can do this by asking a question within your introductory paragraph. APP Method. Agree, Promise, Preview.
  1. It is concise? Three paragraphs is enough.
  1. Does it provide a detailed overview? They should know if the post is a good fit for them.
  1. Did it include a picture? Must immediately include media.

BODY

  1. Did I use subheadings? Try skimming just the subheadings
  1. Is it actionable?
    1. More info
      Create value and fix pain: The headline I created for my article promises a solution to your pain and an offer of value. Heck, it’s free for you to read this article, and you get plenty of great advice, right? Build relationship: I’ve pulled you in. Now, I want to build a relationship with you. If you’ve been a reader for a while, or simply know about my success, you may already have a relationship with me. If not, you can check out my ugly mug on the sidebar or even email me. Earn trust: In my article, I’m proving the fact that you deserve my trust. How? By providing solid researched and experience-based information. Take action: You, the reader, can totally take action on this. In fact, based on these four bullets, you can develop your own plan of attack for an actionable content strategy.
  1. Are my paragraphs fewer than 5-6 lines? 
  1. Am I creating a conversation? Use “you” and “I” to create the illusion of a conversation.
  1. Did I italicize my questions? It makes content seem more personalized.
  1. Am I telling a story? 
    1. More info
      Your readers will be bored unless you keep them hooked. There is no better way to do this than to tell a story.
  1. Am I using media to enhance my content?
    1. More info
      Charts
      Images
      Video
      Audio
  1. Is my content concise? No fluff.
  1. Am I trying to act smart? Don't.
    1. More info
      Using fancy words and talking down to your readers is a great way to lose them. Remove excruciatingly unnecessary adverbs. Check on http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
  1. Did I tie in any current events? – Using Google and Yahoo news to identify trends will help you generate content that will bring in traffic.
  1. Which emotion am I appealing to?
    1. More info
      Your content should appeal to certain emotions such as humor or anger. Pick one or a few of them, and use them throughout your content. The goal is to put your readers through an emotional roller coaster like soap operas do.
  1. Did I link out to anyone? 
    1. More info
      Link out to other websites when appropriate. This way, you can email those sites once you publish your post and ask them to share it on their social profiles.
  1. Did I mention any experts in my post? 
    1. More info
      Including other people’s quotes an opinions within your post, you will help your content gain more credibility. Plus, you can also ask those experts to share your content via the social web.

CONCLUSION

  1. Did I end my post with a Call to Action Variant? 
    1. More info
      Question to Increase comments, invitation to click or check to increase conversion, invitation to read related articles to increase crawl rate.
  1. Was I able to summarize my post within 3 short paragraphs? 
    1. More info
      A summary should be short and to the point and provide the gist of your post to your readers.
  1. Is my summary shorter than 200 words? Ideally, it should be around 100 to 150 words.
  1. Did I leave things open? 
    1. More info
      Your post shouldn’t read like a final verdict on a subject. Instead, invite your readers to participate in a conversation about it.
  1. Does my conclusion encourage people to read my content?
    1. More info
      Some people will scroll down to your conclusion before reading your content. If it is enticing, they will scroll back up to read the rest.

GENERAL

  1. Am I collecting emails? 
    1. More info
      You shouldn’t publish content unless you are collecting emails. Emails are the best way to get people to come back to your site.
  1. Do I have a lead magnet? 
    1. More info
      A lead magnet entices people to give you their email addresses. You can offer a free ebook or a PDF in exchange for an email.
  1. Is there opportunity for affiliate marketing? 
  1. Check lifetime. Good to have timeless. Does it lead to your next post?
  1. One image for every 200 words. Images, graphs, photos, quotes, tables, and diagrams. Are they optimized? Try Unsplash or Pixabay. Use people.
  1. Quotes and tweetable content
  1. Check in all browsers