Hello. We are happy to have you writing for Fractus Learning. To maintain the high standards our readers love consuming, we have created this style guide to help you efficiently create the best content you can. Any questions, please contact Bryan.
Bold important phrases/sentences throughout the article to aid in skimmability.
- Use restraint: The reason bold type creates emphasis is that it slows down the reader and forces the eye to take in the words more carefully. If you slow them down too much, they may just skip over what you have to say.
- Bold important words/terms to remember (mostly for skyscraper/info/how-to articles; no need to bold common words like “funnel”). These will include terms given to you by the POP or CORA reports.
Normal text should be Arial, 11 point size, and the darkest black color.
- If you copy and paste something from another site/source, make sure to “paste without formatting.” Otherwise, you may accidentally cause an error without noticing it. (https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-ways-strip-formatting-copy-paste-text/)
At most, a paragraph can be 4 lines long – not 4 sentences, but 4 lines, as shown below. Optimally, paragraphs should be as short as possible – 1 or 2 lines. However, don’t go overboard and only use one-sentence paragraphs constantly, especially if the content would be more understandable and well-organized if it were grouped in 3 or 4 lines instead.
Remember that reducing the size of a large paragraph may require re-wording it.
Readability: We are aiming for a 5-7 grade reading level. You can check it in Grammarly in the Readability Score. If you don’t have access to this tool, try a tool like hemingwayapp to optimize your paragraphs and sentence structure.
Examples Of Paragraphs to Avoid:
“This is an example of a very long paragraph – you can see this because it goes on and on in the space available. You should not go beyond 4 lines when writing a paragraph as it looks clunky and unappealing to readers – this will change depending on the width of the template used, so really make sure you stay under four lines when using the generic text editors because that is the only way we can be sure it will work when there is EVEN less space available. Try to ensure that you stay within the limit and remember that this is for 4 lines, not for 4 sentences, so your paragraph may contain more than 4 short sentences.”
“This is an example of a short paragraph.
You can break down large points into multiple paragraphs to get your point across.”
Always find a way to use active voice and NOT passive voice.
- Incorrect: While he was at the store, the man was greeted by an old friend.
- Correct: An old friend greeted the man while he was at the store.
Passive – Incorrect:
|The man||was greeted by||an old friend.|
Active – Correct:
|An old friend||greeted||the man.|
Rule of Thumb:
- Ask yourself, “Do I state who/what is committing this action?” to make sure that you have included a subject at all.
- Example: the sentence “The North Korean government is heavily criticized as being oppressive” does not state who is the one criticizing The Great Leader. :)
- Then, make sure the subject is “actively” performing the verb, meaning the subject comes BEFORE the verb, as demonstrated in the tables above.
Point of View
Use 2nd person point of view (POV) whenever…
- It can aid in creating a personal, conversational tone with a reader.
- “Danger” can be impressed upon the reader.
- Example: “They could charge you extra fees” feels more alarming/attention-grabbing than “They could charge customers extra fees.”
There are MANY opportunities for both, so this should be the primary POV used.
Use 3rd person point of view when…
- It wouldn’t make sense otherwise/would sound clunky to use 2nd person.
- Example: “This software saves customers’ logs” or “a group of hackers were able to hack these logs” just wouldn’t make much sense/would sound SUPER clunky if you tried to make them 2nd person.
- Using 2nd person would insinuate that the reader might be doing something illegal (including pirating) and/or morally wrong (subjective and rare, but still).
- Example: “Users who don’t notice this will be charged extra” sounds much, much better than “If you don’t notice this you’ll be charged extra.”
- No Fluff! Every sentence should add value. Don’t state the obvious or repeat your point unnecessarily multiple times. (Unless told otherwise, of course)
- Keep the tone light and conversational as if you were discussing the topic with your friend.
- Avoid referring to any sensitive topics, no matter how good natured or harmless. Some people can become easily offended by light “banter”.
- E.g Bad “Taxes, parking fines, Hitler. These are all things that everyone hates.”
- Additionally, do not mention any politics unless absolutely necessary to the article (e.g a recent bill that was passed). If you are required to do so, do not comment on the political nature of the bill and simply present the facts.
- E.g Bad “President “X” passed another ridiculous bill meaning we cannot store personal data anymore”
- E.g Good “A bill was recently passed forbidding small businesses from storing personal data.”
NO Salesy Language
- Wrong: “You’ll find peace of mind when your dog finally stops barking!”
- Wrong: “You can rest easy knowing your dog’s behavior troubles are finally over.”
- Wrong: Anything else that sounds like it could be in an infomercial
Instead, use conditional language (if, might, could, may, maybe) to make recommendations:
- Correct: “This might be a good choice for those who want an in-home training option.”
- Correct: “If it’s important to you to find a positive dog trainer, this may be a good place to start.”
The only exception is if you are actually, HANDS ON, reviewing a product. If you are giving your first-hand experience with something, you don’t need to be conditional. Do note that you’ll need to back up your statement with experience if someone (i.e., a manufacturer) comes back angry about your opinion.
- Okay: “In my personal expeirence, this battery pack worked less than 70% of the time.” – IF IT ACTUALLY WORKED LESS THAN 70% OF THE TIME. Factual critical reviews are welcomed and championed!
- Not OK: “Based on my experience, you will likely die from using this battery bank.” – That’s not your experience – unless you died from using the product. No hyperbole needed – just explain what happened without piling on.
A basic level of technical jargon is acceptable for most articles.
If you need to use any advanced technical language (or acronyms), explain in clear detail what it means. Additionally, don’t overwhelm the reader with streams of acronyms of complex language.
- Wrong: “If you are using a SEM tactic such as PPC ads, this might not work.”
- Correct: “If you are using a paid advertising tactic to drive traffic, such as PPC (Pay per click) ads, this might not work.”
Always Add Value and Avoid Filler Language
Every sentence should add value to your article; ask yourself if each sentence is necessary and if it enhances the quality of writing.
- Always add useful/valuable information.
- No BS’ing.
- Wrong: “If your dog is acting up, you might need a dog trainer” (…duh).
- Wrong: “This company teaches your dog to walk politely. They also offer leash training.” (…says the same thing twice).
- Wrong: Anything else that doesn’t add information to the article.
Generally, you won’t need to deal with pictures in articles outside of reviews. If you do think a particular picture works well, keep the following in mind.
All photos/images/diagrams (unless one of our own) should be cited with the URL of where you found it, to ensure no copyright infringement. Cite the source in a comment after the article and not in the text itself. Generally we will provide the pictures from our subscriptions to stock photos so this mostly won’t apply.
Type of Images
All images should add something to the content, i.e., help explain a concept, like how the one above explains how dogs life cycle. If you think an article needs a image, drawing, etc – let us know. You can sketch out something rough, take a picture, email it to me or to the Trello card and we can try to get our graphic designer to work on making it happen.
Adorable, but not good:
Make sure any image used is of good quality: crisp, clear, large enough. We don’t want to use one that’s blurry or low-quality.
Try to make sure images are at least 1000px wide.
- Hyperlinks should only be about 4ish words long
- The words linked should indicate what the linked page will be about
- Don’t repeat links, unless direct quote or reference is mentioned
- If info is covered by another link, don’t link to a different site that would repeat the same info
- Don’t link to really obvious, well-known things, which is pretty unnecessary, like Netflix
- Use our affiliate links, and link to our articles when possible. If you don’t have anything top of mind, don’t worry about it. But if you do remember an article you wrote on the similar topic, mention we should link to it at the bottom of the text or in the Trello card.
In order to ensure readers can trust the facts presented within our articles, we need to ensure that all sources are of high quality and can be trusted. Please follow these basic guidelines when sourcing facts
- Do not use Wikipedia or any other crowd scoured platform as a source
- You can, however, use the citations within the wikipedia article providing they make sense
- Ensure all sources are from authoritative sites
- Use your judgement here. A quote from www.curecancerwithlemonjuice.info isn’t likely authoritative.
- If a sources claims are not confirmed, ensure this is stated within the article
Source Your Facts
Backup ALL your facts with links to evidence preferably from a reliable/reputable site with some authority in the market.
Include all reference links within the content pointing to the exact deep page containing the information not the top level domain so we can easily refer to them in the final publication.
A web sources should be cited by linking the source through already-existing text, not by adding a source at the end.
- Incorrect: Here’s some interesting info about Trojan Horses. (Source)
- Correct: Here’s some interesting info about Trojan Horses.
You may source information from the product website if you are reviewing product, however, this must be purely for quantifying features. Do not lift sensationalist quotes from the site unless they have provided independent research to backup their claim.
E.g Bad: “Customers say Mailchimp is the #1 mailing software” – it’s not. That’s why there’s no survey to link to.