Style Guide for ELi Writers

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This page provides the latest ELi style guide.

ELi Style Guide

(version 140820.2)

If you follow this guide, it will save us time on editing and thus allow us to use that time for other work! If you have a style question that isn’t answered by this guide, please contact your editor so he or she can answer your question and add the item to the style guide.

File types and names:

  • We prefer that you submit your work electronically as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file. If it is a short article, you can submit it simply in the body of an email.
  • When you name an electronic file for Eli, put (1) the date written as a 6-digit code, with YYMMDD (year, month, day), then (2) your last name, then (2) a short description of the topic. For example, a file name for a file written by Smitty Smith on August 20, 2014, about traffic lights might be:

140820 Smith traffic lights

  • If the editor needs to return your work after editing for you to check, she or he will add an increasing number at the end of the date code to indicate the file version. So the subsequent file versions will look like this:

140820.1 Smith traffic lights

140820.2 Smith traffic lights

  • If you want to suggest a hotlink, go ahead and create a hotlink in your text OR put the url in brackets around where it should appear. Example: “The National Weather Service has that information. []”

Basic formatting:

  • Use left-margin justification for everything. (Do not center any work.)
  • Present your material in this order: your name; your article text; your disclosure (if any). (You can propose a headline for the article if you wish, but know that editors often change headlines for clarity and length.)
  • At the end of a paragraph, hit “return” ONLY ONCE. (When we import your work onto the website, the site automatically creates a visual space after a hard return, so if you hit return “twice,” it doubles the visual space. If you find it hard to look at your document without the space, in Word, select all of your text, then choose “format,” “paragraph,” “spacing,” and in the “after” box put in “6 pt” or “9 pt”. That will create a visual space after every hard return.)
  • Do not indent or tab at the start of a new paragraph.
  • After the end of a sentence, put only 1 space. (If you are used to doing 2, that’s okay. Just do this before you submit your work: Use “find and replace” to automatically replace a double space with a single.)
  • Avoid using subheadings unless the article is unusually long.

ELi style specifics:

  • In general, avoid using periods in acronyms. So write “MSU” rather than “M.S.U.” and “ELPD” rather than “E.L.P.D.”
  • Spell out numbers for twenty and lower. So write “seven” rather than “7.” For numbers over twenty, use digits.
  • For possessives of singular nouns or pronouns ending in “s” add an apostrophe plus an “s”: example: Venus’s orbit.
  • When referring to someone’s official capacity, mention the person’s title the first time you mention that person. (Example: “Jamie Tang, East Lansing Director of Public Works, said the project will be done in one month.”)
  • When referring to a specific someone’s official position, capitalize the position title. (Example: “The City Manager spoke next.”) But when referring to the job (as opposed to the person in the job), do not capitalize the position title. (Example: “A search for a new finance director may be launched.”)
  • After the first time you spell out a person’s whole name, use the person’s last name only, without using or reusing a title. (Example: “Randy Kolowaski attended the meeting. Kolowaski owns property in the Bailey neighborhood.”) If there are two or more people in the article who share the same last name, use first names when referring to each.
  • If you refer to East Lansing Info in an article, use “ELi.” (Example: “As previously reported in ELi….”)

General tips:

  • Put the most newsy thing (“the lead”) in the first paragraph. (Don’t begin your article with lots of background; begin it with the reason this is “news.”)
  • If there is an important meeting coming up, mention it early in the article; remember that ELi has as part of its mission keeping citizens engaged.
  • Try to write so that someone new to a story can follow it.
  • Avoid words that sound opinion-based. For example, use “large” rather than “gigantic” or “massive”; use “said” or “indicated” or “announced” rather than “declared” or “argued.” © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info