Style Guide for Writers

See also: Style Guide for Photographers

In order to improve the quality of the writing on Inside Hockey, we need more consistent and clear style. AP style is essentially what we’ll use, here are the details…

Headlines

Here are a few rules to note when creating your headline. For more of tips, you can visit this website

http://www.writersblock.ca/tips/monthtip/tipmar98.htm

1) Always Capitalize the First and Last Word (Example: The Hub Of Hockey Prepares for Upcoming Season)

2) Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, adverbs and subordinate conjunctions.

3) Lowercase all articles, coordinate conjunctions and preposition (and, or, nor) other than the first or last word, or if the preposition has more than five characters (After, Among, Between)

4) Lowercase the “to” in an infinitive

Also, keep the length of the headlines to a maximum of 40 characters. Keep it short and sweet, and be creative too.

Example: Instead of using: Canadiens-Bruins: Carey Price stumbles in Boston’s 4-2 win; Use this: Price Stumbles in Habs Pre-Season Opener (or something similar).

Numbers

This rule is pretty simple. Any number 10 or above is a figure (10, 11, 12, 150, etc.) and numbers nine or less are written out (nine, eight, seven etc.). The same is true for ordinals (ninth and 10th). In sport specific stats, figures should be used (improved to 4-3 on the year, team was 6-11 from the field).

On that same note, don’t start out sentences with numbers. “100 years ago…” is incorrect. It would have to be “One hundred years ago…”

For height and weight, it’s 5-foot-8, 167 pounds.

For times, it’s 3 p.m., not 3:00 pm or 3:00 p.m. or 3 pm or 3 P.M. or 3 o’clock. Just 3 p.m. Also, it’s not noon and midnight. 12 p.m. and 12 a.m.

For use of the upcoming season, please use 2010-11 and not 2010-2011.

Its/Their

Singular nouns get singular pronouns. Plural nouns get plural pronouns. For example, The Ducks won their ninth game of the year against the Sharks, 4-3. Or Anaheim won its 12th game of the year against the Blues, 7-0. The BU men’s ice hockey team did a poor job defending its national title. The Terriers did a poor job defending their national title.

Also, while we’re talking about scores, USE COMMAS WHERE APPROPRIATE. Like the example above, The Ducks won their ninth game of the year against the Sharks, 4-3. However one isn’t needed for “The Ducks blew a 3-2 lead.” It would be used for “The Ducks blew a 3-2 lead but came back to win, 4-3.”

That/Who

Please use “that” when referring to things (arenas, hockey sticks, pucks, etc.) and “who” when referring to people (Penguins, defensemen, coaches, etc.).

First and Second Reference

This rule is also pretty simple. On first reference for a player or coach, use the first and last name. After that, you DON’T need the first name again. The only exception is when there are two people with the same last name, and you mention both of them in the story.

Another thing is that you don’t need to refer to Jack Parker as “Coach Parker” every time. After you say “Head coach Jack Parker…” the next reference should just be Parker. Of course, if Parker’s son is playing and scored three goals, then use Coach Parker to make it clear. Basically, just use common sense when it comes to references.

Active Voice

This is one that will go a long way to making stories read a lot better. Make sure everything is in active voice. For example, instead of “Boston would go on to score four goals in the third period” write “Boston scored four goals in the third period.”

Fact Checking

Another great idea is to check spelling of names and facts. The editors will not be checking facts for you all the time, especially random facts. Just do your research and take the time to read over and make sure you didn’t mistype a number by mistake, since that type of thing happens to everyone. With so many stories, we can’t know if it’s been 12 or 13 games without a point for Kevin Gilroy. We don’t follow all the leagues and all the teams that closely.

Above that, spelling is absolutely huge. There are really no excuses for this. Typos happen, and sometimes the typos are themselves real words, so spell check doesn’t pick up on it. No big deal, but just re-read the story and double check. We’ll do the same, but it makes our jobs a lot easier if everything is correct the first time.

Usage of First Person

It is respectable (and encouraged) to use first person in an opinion piece, however, you should refrain from using “I think” “I believe” or “In my opinion”. The reason for this is that the reader(s) know when they see your by-line that they know it’s your opinion and using “I think” “I believe” or “In my opinion” becomes a bit redundant. However, if your quoting someone in a story and they say I think, then you can certainly use it. Just make sure they are in quotations. Example: “I think our team played great tonight in all aspects,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “I think we had some trouble picking up the pace in the first few minutes, but after that we kicked it up a notch. Overall, I thought it was a great performance from our team.”

Other points of emphasis

Writer/Editor Interaction

We want to try to have more communications with all our writers this year. That way you know why we edited something, and if we have any questions, we can get in touch with you.

One requirement will be that you be available at least an hour (no more than an hour) after you filed your story. We’re not saying you can’t go out and have a good time and that you need to be by your computer for an hour straight. But just in case we have any questions, we need a way to contact you. Either via text, email or phone. Most of the time we won’t have any questions for you, and it won’t be a big deal. We just want to put the best stuff we can on the site, and sometimes it takes an extra question here or there to make it happen.

Therefore, we need cell phone (or home phone if you for some reason you have no cell phone) numbers from everyone. Again, the chance we call you is pretty slim. But it’s good to have in case of emergency.

Also, we’ll give you our numbers, so in case you have trouble filing or can’t get into an event or get lost or who knows what, then you can get in touch with one of us. There’s three (four if we include KG) of us who can assist you.

Game Analysis/Deadlines

We should be placing an emphasis on analysis rather than game recaps. Yes game recaps are important and they definitely have value, but they are available everywhere and let’s face it, we are not going to be able to match the resources of the AP or local newspapers on the beat. When we do post game recaps, however, they should be in to your editor by 1 a.m. in the time zone the game is being played in whenever possible. Getting the game recap in late the next afternoon when the team is playing again the following night reduces the value of the story. The 1 a.m. deadline is only for those who are on location and covering the game.

People will come to our site regularly if we offer insight and analysis. Don’t just say what happened, but explain why it happened. Give the story behind the story. Feature articles on players or on trends for teams (like a successful or slumping power play or a road winning streak) are also a good thing. The more unique insight and analysis we can give, the more likely people will be willing to go to our site and return on a regular basis.

Video can be used to supplement this. An exclusive video interview with a player, which can be posted on our site and on YouTube is another way for us to get more readers/viewers. There is less of a need for strict deadlines for these stories. These interviews can be conducted after practice, pre-game or post game, depending on player availability.

Anybody who has any questions about a story or wants to brainstorm for story ideas, feel free to contact any of the editors and we will be happy to discuss this with you.

Submitting Articles to IH

Once you log in to the site you will be directed to the WordPress Navigation. After logging in click on “Posts” and then “Add New”. From there, you’ll be directed to the What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor where you can either copy and paste your story from Microsoft word, or you can start a draft of your article directly on the site. The benefit of this is that the system automatically saves your draft for you with the “Auto Save” option. Once you have completed your draft – or once you copied and pasted to word – click on “Publish” and from there one of the editors will take it from there and you should see your story on IH shortly after submission.

A couple of other things to point out…

The “Categories” Tab (located beneath the “publish” status) is just like vocabularies on the old site. Check off whatever tags are appropriate for your story. Keep in mind if you are posting a recap after the game that you should have both teams tagged. Example: if your posting a recap of the Bruins-Canadiens game in Boston, make sure you check off “Boston Bruins” and “Montreal Canadiens” and not just “Boston Bruins”

In the “Post Tag” option, make sure you tag players, coaches, personnel or anything else that might be appropriate for this option. Think of this as when you add players to the “Key People” option on the old site.

Please, tag all teams under “Categories” and don’t tag them in the “Post Tags”. Search engines will have a conflict when “Boston Bruins” is tagged in both the “Categories” and “Post Tag” options.

IMPORTANT

Once your story is approved and published, then you cannot make any other edits. If you need to make any corrections or changes to your story, then feel free to e-mail any of the editors and they will make the necessary edits after your story has been posted.

Posting Video from YouTube

This is pretty simple and can be done one of two ways. The first is to copy the YouTube url and then paste it into the text box. If that doesn’t work, then copy the embed code from YouTube, then click on “HTML” at the very top of the text box. Once you click “HTML” then paste the embed code from YouTube into the text box. After that click on “visual” and from there you can submit your article with the video.

QUICK NOTE: You might want to preview the article just to make sure that video shows up, and you might need to refresh your browser to see the particular clip.

Posting on HFBoards

A way to generate more traffic on Inside Hockey is to post any of your articles on HFBoards. http://hfboards.com/

If you have not signed up for a free account, then we suggest doing so. Once you sign up, you should have a vairified account shortly after. Here’s the link to sign up: http://hfboards.com/register.php You’ll be asked to enter your date of birth when you first register. From there you can create a username, a password and fill out any other information.

Posting Tips

Posting anything on HFBoards is a pretty simple concept. However, you’ll want to make sure that you post to the appropriate thread. Here’s an example:

To post a game analysis from a particular game, you’ll want to post on the Game Day thread (GDT). Example: to post a recap from the Rangers-Flyers game, click on the Rangers (or Flyers) team thread on the home page, and then click on “last page”. From there you’ll be directed to the latest discussions on the game. Click on “reply” at the bottom of the page. From there you’ll be able to post the link from your IH game story. Copy and paste the link into their text box. Feel free to add to the current discussion as well.

Posting Editorials

The first is to find any thread currently on HFBoards related to your editorial. For example, if Bruce Boudreau winds up getting fired and you write an analysis on the decision, then chances are that it is already being discussed on the Capitals HFBoards page. So click on the latest page appropriate thread (ex: News Article: Boudreau fired, or anything related), then click on “reply” and from there copy and paste the IH url and add a quick note or two about the topic.

Also, feel free to start a new thread if you think its necessary. Scroll down to the bottom of any team page on HFBoards and click on “New Thread”. Create a topic of discussion and go from there…