The Write Stuff (Style Guide)


  • When a reference is used to a person, book, or word that the readers may not necessarily recognize, create a hyperlink to a website about the idea in question.
  • It is not necessary to cite sources when a hyperlink is used.
  • A hyperlink can also be inserted to other related topics in order to help the reader understand the topic better.


  • If a quote is more than 4 lines, it must be block quoted. To block quote, just highlight the section and hit the block quote button.
  • When quoting over two lines of poetry, it must be formatted as a block quote. Otherwise poetry should be quoted with forward slashes dividing each line.

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below./ Words without thoughts never to heaven go (Hamlet Act 3, Scene 3).

  • If a quote takes up less than 4 lines, then it does not need to be put into a block quote (unless you are trying to give extra emphasis to that quote).
  • If there are words in the sentence before the quote, then there should be a comma and space before the quotation mark and the quotation should begin with a capital letter.
  • A comma should go inside of the quotation mark if you have something to say after the quote before the sentence is over.
  • The ending mark of the sentence should go inside the quotation mark if there is nothing left to say in the sentence after the quote.
  • Here are some examples of these different types of quotations:

According to Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” Dr. Seuss once said.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

  • If the words being used are word for word from another source, they are not your own idea, and they need to be in quotes.
  • If they are paraphrased, the original source still needs mentioning, but the words do not necessarily need to be in quotes.

Spelling/Word Usage

  • Check the dictionary for proper spelling if required.
  • Try to limit the amount of possibly unknown words in your post.The goal is to expand the reader’s mind, but not confuse them. So, fanciful language is encouraged, but only in moderation.
  • Proofreading is encouragedmake sure your punctuation and grammar is in accordance with standard usage. It does not need to be academic, but should at least be standard grammatical structure. Only use colloquialisms as an effect, and not as your standard English.
  • Make sure that your writing can be as easily read aloud as it could be read on the page. Conversational tone is key here.

Abbreviations and Symbols

  • The Oxford Comma is required in all lists of three or more items.
  • Long dashes should be used in place of colons or short dashes (also known as hyphens), especially in titles. The author may have to copy and paste a long dash from another blog post title in order for the website to accept it.
  • When doing interviews, abbreviate by using the interviewee’s last name. Capitalize and bold each tag and place a colon before each speaker’s comment. The interviewer should be referred to as “Me” and their questions/comments should be in bold.

SEAMUS: I am a very cool guy.
ME: Good for you. On to my next question…

  • If an abbreviation in an interview is especially vague or not well known, use a hyperlink for the reader’s benefit.
  • Avoid oversaturation of semicolons in your work.
  • C.S. stands for Clive Staples. G.K. stands for Gilbert Keith. They do not stand for Crazy Salamander or Gross Kids. You will learn these very quickly.

Publishing Procedures

  • Remember your due dates as a writer and as an editor.
  • The junior editor and the staff writer work in tandem. The editor edits the piece and sends the staff writer their suggestions. After corrections are made, the staff writer sends their final copy back to the editor. The editor must give final approval before the post is ready to be published for the website, and then the editor formats and publishes the post.
  • The first time a post is uploaded to the blog, it will be uploaded as a ‘pitch.’ The editor must either manually publish the post on the due date, or schedule the post to shift from a pitch to a public post on the due date.
  • Junior editors are only allowed to edit the post that they have been assigned to edit.
  • Use hyperlinks for obscure items that not everyone knows about. If you discuss Abraham Lincoln, that’s probably fine, but discussing the merits of his headgear probably would need a link.
  • Make sure to have a picture as an introduction to the piece. Do not put the photo in the text directly. Put it in the ‘Featured Image’ section. Image must also be landscape and be eye-catching yet applicable to your piece.
  • Remember to check the names of the author, the editor, and the administrator when publishing the post.
  • Ensure that the date of the piece corresponds to the time it was published, not the time it was uploaded to the website. Otherwise, new pieces will get lost in the archives.
  • When publishing, make sure that “Heading 2” is used in the first line for the author’s name. The rest of the post should be in the website’s default formatting.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t indent the start of new paragraphs.
  • Don’t use slang, jargon, sexist, or explicit language. We are a Christian institution and anything submitted must follow the expectations of the university.
  • If at all possible, try to avoid common vocabulary, such as: have got, a lot, nice, and the other thing.  It is okay to spice up your work and keep it interesting.
  • Minimize conversational opening phrases, such as: well, you see, yes…, and let’s move on.
  • Some of these rules do not apply to interviews.
  • Write with conviction. Do not write, I think– especially not at the beginning of a sentence.

Do not write, “I think the play was good.”

  • Don’t use – instead of a real dash.
  • Try not to use contractions: don’t, can’t, won’t, etc.
  • Don’t generalize- all generalizations are false.

While generalities at times might be difficult to eschew, you want to make an effort to use words that clearly illustrate your comprehension and intent. Here is an example of a generalization that I sometimes find in college essays:

“In the story “Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet,” Barry Hannah’s character Bobby Smith is troubled.”

  • The problem with this sentence is that the writer has made a statement that conveys little to nothing. Also, if the statement is intended as the thesis for an essay, then it will fail because this argument puts the minimal onus on the writer to prove or support anything (which was the point of the assignment in the first place).
  • The use of I, we, and you is generally the informal choice. However, the Carolina Institute of Faith and Culture may accept the use of these pronouns periodically. If possible, it is recommend that they only be used in the introduction and conclusion of the text.
  • Do use “Heading Number 2” when including the author’s name at the beginning of a blog post.
  • Use bold subheadings only.
  • When editing and uploading someone else’s blog post, do make sure you include them as the author on WordPress rather than yourself
  • Do make sure you select a category (such as conversations, fiction, film reviews) when uploading your post.
  • Try not to schedule more than one post for publication per day.
  • Do understand the broader arc of the assignment. While details can sometimes be included and developed later, if you don’t understand the provided topic, then you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
  • Do be very attentive in the words and phrases you select for your articles. Words are a way to express your opinions and they are also a way to show the readers your personality.
  • Do be authentic, genuine, unique, and honest. Know your own writing voice. The audience will appreciate the piece more if it is genuinely you.

Phrasing and Ease of Reading

  • Tend not to add too many large words that may hinder the reader’s understanding of the piece. If a large word is used that may not be well known, include a hyperlink to the definition of that word from a respectable dictionary website.


  • Run-on sentences take away from the piece, because the reader’s focus will be lost quickly. Try to limit the number of large sentences and paragraphs that may draw a potential reader away from the work.
  • Begin with a hook that draws your reader in. This includes the title, and sometimes even the entire first paragraph. If a topic is relatable make sure that the reader will be able to acknowledge the similarities to his or her own life.
    • Examples include quotes, imagery, rhetorical questions, and the like.
  • Don’t overuse clichés: we want original content, and clichés often take away from the meaning of a sentence because they are overused.
  • While we welcome argument and debate, careful wording is important in getting the point across without shocking or insulting the reader.
    • In the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, “I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. And some very good people have some very bad ideas. And if you can’t separate the two, you gotta get another day job.”
  • Do not choose topics that do not interest you. It is often difficult to be enthusiastic about a topic if you do not desire to learn more about the topic.
  • Be detailed in your writing by including facts that you think may capture the reader’s interest.
  • Writing in active voice may also make a reader more interested in the piece they are reading.

“The critic wrote a scathing review.” As opposed to, “A scathing review was written by the critic.”

  • Avoid repetitive phrasing.

Using the words “like,” “very,” “good,” and previously stated sentences.

  • Avoid emphasizing sound by the inclusion of all capitalized letters. Instead, include an exclamation point to lightly emphasize excitement sparingly.

THIS IS NOT OKAY! This is okay! (sometimes)

  • When revising a statement make sure that the meaning is not changed.

Extra Notes

  • If the authorship of a piece needs to be changed, go to the “Posts” tab and find the post. Do not click into the post, but instead hover over it until you find the “Quick Edit” button. Click that. It will pull open a tab where you can change the title, author, date of publication, and a few other things. Make sure to click “Save” when you are finished, then the changes will be made.


Published April 30, 2018