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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Use a Simple Style Guide when writing for your Blog

I recently have been fortunate to have an article written for me by Craig McGinty, a freelance journalist who runs a number of websites including www.thisfrenchlife.com.
He is a firm believer that entrepreneurs and small firms can use blog-style websites to boost their business.

"IF you are looking to make your website work hard for you and boost your business then it needs to look professional, he writes.The design and style is something that you most probably take a lot of time over, but what about the words themselves?

It is important that your articles look as one, that readers are not confused by the appearance of the words on the screen and that your audience are comfortable reading what you write. That is where a simple style guide comes in which is a number of rules that your articles will stick to when you are writing them.

If you look at a newspaper you will see that opening paragraphs will often start with the first word in capitals, dates will be in the same format and the use of certain characters will be banned.To give you a quick idea of the style-guide I use, it’s not written down it’s just in my head, here are some of the rules I stick to:

* Every story I write opens with the first word in capitals, check the first paragraph of this article. If you start with the word ‘I’ then capitalise the next word as well.

* Keep sentences short and snappy, don’t use exclamation marks or capitals mid-sentence unless it’s an abbreviation and understand how apostrophes work.

* Stick to the same way of writing dates, I use September 6, 2005 and for the time I use am and pm, but if you are more comfortable with the 24 hour clock use this instead.

* When you write a number if it is between zero and ten spell it out (just like I’ve done) and anything above, for example 17, use the actual number.

One of the benefits you get from sticking to a style guide is more time, as you are not wondering how something should be written.

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