Blog Style Guide

Blogs are one method that our members can discuss topics of interest to SAPAA such as a visit to a specific Natural Area. Not everyone has permissions to create a blog inside of word press so this style guide provides a standard template to do the initial drafting in another tool such as MS Word, Google Docs, etc.

What is a Blog

A blog as a short essay or newsletter article that stands on its own. Other characteristics include:

  • Personalized: a blog may reflect the individual writing it or be more formal and represent SAPAA as an organization.
  • More Informal: language. Unlike a page or a journal article, a blog can reflect the character of the author. As a result, it can be more chatty, informal, funny, etc.
  • Adheres to Standards: Notwithstanding the above, a blog represents SAPAA and must meet the standards of the organization. Personal opinion is welcome, but not inflammatory opinion damaging to SAPAA. General SAPAA standards: well written, word count, relevant topic, and respectful.
  • Reading Level: of a blog should have a Grade 9 or lower reading level.
  • Quality over Quantity: meaning, no blog is better than a poorly written one.
  • Medium Length: results in about 500 words and less than 1,000. The sweet spot is for a blog to be read in 5 or fewer minutes which at a 75-100 words per minute is in the above range.
  • Time Bound: creates currency with the blog and it keeps this type of content out of the web pages. Examples may include field trips, site reports, etc.
  • More than a Comment: Comments on web pages or blogs (assuming they are not spam) are typically highly specific to the content at hand.
    • Comments are shorter and there is less rigor for grammar, spelling; but they must meet SAPAA standards for respect, etc.
    • Comments come from two sources: logged in users and the public.
    • Logged in users can comment and post to pages or posts although we can also implement an approval step.
    • Public users always have to have their comments approved (mostly because 99.99% of the comments will be spam).

Blog Structure

The following is meant as a guide for those new to the blog format. More experience writers may deviate noting the above guidelines.

  • Hook: 1-2 sentences basically providing the blog’s theme.
  • Image: often a photo or a map, included to support the hook but also to support promotion of the blog itself.
  • Story: 200-1,000 words, broken out be lots of headings, lists, etc. Scannable is the key attribute for a good blog.
  • Images (optional): a slide show of 2-12 images at the bottom
  • References and notes (optional): if a statistic is provided in the story, use square brackets [99] and then a numbered list at the bottom.

Building a Blog

Blogs or posts are a specific type of webpage in WordPress. Many writers start and finish in WordPress but some find it easier to do the initial writing in a word-processor to take advantage of more advanced grammar and spelling features (as well as for familiarity).

If using an external tool, little to no effort should be spent on formatting the blog. This is because when transferring from a word-processor (MS Word, Google Docs, etc.), it is important to strip out any formatting. The reason for this is because a program like Word brings a lot of hidden formatting that ‘gums-up’ the web page.

When we transfer it to the web page, we paste it in as ‘text’. Basically this removes all formatting. We then format it using WordPress’s tools (bold, lists, etc.). In windows, a short cut key is often ‘Control-Shift-V’ (as opposed to ‘Control-V’. Mostly applications accept this as ‘paste as text’. If using a Mac, see “How to Paste Text Without Formatting on macOS“.

Adding Photos

Photos are added using the Image Management instructions and standards.

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