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ClinicalPosters Writing Style Guide

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Guidelines For Writers, Reviewers, and Editors

Each blog has a style of writing with which regular readers are familiar. Some topics come up frequently, requiring only more information in a specific area. Where rules of grammar vary, editors for each website establish rules for consistency. It is best if you read articles on the blog you plan to submit. Otherwise, as a guest author, much of your text may undergo revision or rejection.

This article makes public some general guidelines for health articles on this website. ClinicalPosters places pending articles in a private preview section. This allows multiple writers to suggest improve­ments. Below are 14 tips that help elevate the quality of article sub­mis­sions. This encourages visitors to return and read more blog content.

  1. Short title. Each article has two titles. One is the visible title of five words or less. This allows it to display as small text on the home page for several weeks without truncation. Third-party search engines may also optimize the alternate meta title. By default, it’s the same, but it can be up to 50 characters.
  2. Subheadings. More than half of site visits are on smartphones. Subheadings throughout articles help orientate readers who scroll through a long sea of paragraphs within a narrow viewing width. With greater visibility, these can be succinct calls to action.
  3. Research article. Some authors are able to write about topics without any research. This web­site encourages readers to login for access to refer­ences. So, where possible for health articles, list outbound reference links at the bottom of your article. Include the corres­ponding sequential number within square brackets after the punctuation in the body of the article.
  4. Link to local articles. Your research should include searching this website for parallel articles. Some points are worth repeating. But if there is already another compre­hensive article, you can refer to it within your text.
  5. Anatomy posters. Each health article relates to one or more anatomy poster categories on this web­site. Use any of these key words throughout your article.
    Cardiology, chiropractor, clinical science, cos­meto­logy, dentistry, dermato­logy, endo­crino­logy, educa­tion, fitness, gastro­entero­logy, geron­to­logy, immuno­logy, internist, market­ing, mental health, nephro­logy, neuro­logy, nutri­tion, ob-gyn, onco­logy, ortho­pe­dics, oto­laryn­go­logy, pedi­atrics, physio­logy, physio­therapy, podiatry, pul­mono­logy, rheuma­tology, technology, uro­logy, vision, writing.
  6. Vary sentence structure. This italic text is an example of repetitive structure. This is a sen­tence that begins in the same manner as the prior. This italic sentence is the end of the example. Reading is more interesting when you vary the structure of sentences and phrasing. Begin with different words and alternate position of the subject and predicate.
  7. Correct spelling. You can paste text into Microsoft Word and look for the squiggly underlined words. This may not alert you to correctly spelled wrong words. You might type coma instead of comma, cuff instead of cough, or envelope instead of envelop.
  8. Formatting numbers. It is grammatically correct to spell out numbers under 10. But there are some exceptions for context and math equations. If a number falls in the range of one to ten and is not a whole number, write it as a numeral. When two numbers come next to each other in a sentence, spell out one of these numbers to avoid confusion. If a sentence combines small and large numbers, spell out all the numbers or write them as numerals.
  9. Sentence length. Avoid run-on sentences. Cognitive overload occurs when reading some­thing several times to comprehend it. Readers will leave the page if they don’t understand the article. Dial back those commas, semi-colons, and long dashes. A simple period will often suffice.
  10. Consistent punctuation. Consider your article as a chapter in a much larger book. Thus punctua­tion should be consistent throughout the blog. A long dash (instead of two hyphens) should have a space on either side. The website will close the gap for you. Use a short dash (not a hyphen) when specifying a range of numbers like 2–4. This site uses curly quotes instead of inch marks. Unless the word “percent” begins a sentence, use the % symbol. Single space between sentences. Follow standard rules for use of italics.
  11. Article and paragraph length. Some grammar rules have changed during the internet era. Short para­graphs are appealing on the narrow width of a smart­phone. They may look anemic on a wide screen desktop computer. Two to four sentences represents a com­forta­ble length for most digital devices.
    Aim for article length between 500 and 1000 words. The only reason to read longer health articles is that it addresses a problem a visitor is researching. Most readers prefer short articles.
  12. Hemingway reportMinimize passive voice. The English language permits the combining of present and future events in the same sentence, using the passive voice. Bad example: This weakens the force­fulness and will be discouraged by gram­mar checkers. Good example: Grammar checkers dis­courage this since it weakens the forcefulness.
  13. Check grammar. Grammar is subjective so apps that verify grammar offer different suggestions. Hemmingway Editor high­lights a half dozen common gramma­tical faux pas. It does not correct spelling or suggest how to rephrase complex sentences. Some writers prefer Grammarly. Though helpful, total dependence upon such apps can still result in verbose, grammatically correct, uninteresting articles. Your point of view and writing style should come through.
  14. Listen to your article. While following along, listen to a text-to-speech reading of your article if available. Identify missing words or repetitive phrasing.
  15. Reading grade level. The educational grade level for reading articles on this site range from 2–14. There might be one above that. Is higher better? Not necessarily. You reach a wider audience at grade 5 or below. However, the context of some subjects requires a higher grade level for a niche audience.
  16. Avoid embedding videos. Video on a desktop computer with a good WiFi connection can display quickly. However, phones, which make up the majority of website traffic, can experience poor cellular reception in some places. In some countries, it can take several minutes to load a page. Averaging this out with the rest of your site can reduce Google speed rating. This affects third-party search position.

ClinicalPosters has an in-house art depart­ment and sometimes includes illustra­tions. Various stock photo websites offer free images. Others require attribu­tion. Still others charge a licensing fee. ClinicalPosters subscribes to Adobe Stock and uses other free services. To prevent violating possible licensing restrictions, guest authors should not submit images.

An article is more than a compilation of grammatically correct words. It should engage, inspire, and inform. Make this your aim, as you write, review, and edit articles for this website. Though the internet is global, most visitors read American English. Understand the differences from British English in spelling, phrasing, and word use. Identify your audience. Then speak to the reader as a person.

The above suggestions apply primarily to the ClinicalReads Health blog, for which most guest submissions occur. Writing styles vary among other blogs on this site. The ClinicalInsights blog sometimes has articles about programming that can be more technical. The ClinicalNovellas blog may sacrifice some grammar rules—such as frequent use of adverbs—for character development. What types of things do you enjoy reading or writing?

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