Last Updated: 5/01/23
Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Sections and Headers
Headlines are catchy, clever, and generally SHORT. My limit is generally 10-18 words. We want to intrigue the reader, not give away the whole article before they click through. Some writers and editors at major publications work through dozens or even a hundred headlines – take a few minutes to make yours the best it can be.
Headlines are only used ONCE. Do not repeat a headline in the body or as a section header. Headlines are H1, Section headers are H2, and should be used around every 2-300 words.
H3 is fine also, for further definition in an article list. Headers are capped, except for small words like a, an, the, etc.
Capitalize all major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns) in the title/heading, including the second part of major hyphenated words (e.g., Self-Report, not Self-report) Generally, capitalize all words of four letters or more.
If you are unsure how to properly capitalize a headline or header, please use these resources:
Section headers should be clever or reinforce the content coming (both, if you can manage it), but not word for word the same as a sentence or phrase in the very next section.
The following terms and phrases should never appear in headlines, as they will be rejected: celeb, underwear, bra, panties, stocking, swimsuit, bathing suit, beach body, pole dancer, before and after, blow your mind, can you believe, can you guess, horror, horrific, jaw-dropping, most devastating, try this month, try this week, wardrobe malfunction, waste of money, you should, you never heard of, you won't believe
Neither Spellcheck nor Grammarly can catch it if your typo is an actual word. So take the time to re-read all your articles at least twice before you submit them. I literally read all of my work through three times before I send it to anyone else, and I still catch an occasional mistake afterwards.
Know your two, too, to’s, its, it’s, its’, there, they’re, theirs, your, you’re, yore’s – and be on the lookout for “you” when you mean “your”
Set your Grammarly Premium to check for ONE space after each period. Not two.
Proper titles of full-length, freestanding creative works (books, movies, tv shows, albums) we italicize within the body of the article, but not the Headers (H2, H3).
Songs and episodes, we put in quotes in the body of the article, but not usually the Headers.
Know Your Audience
We are writing for a general audience. We need articles to be understandable by someone with a 6th to 8th-grade education. This is a long-standing industry guideline – it’s not that people are stupid, it’s the journalistic guideline that’s been agreed upon. Further, we don’t want our readers to *feel* stupid because you’re using too many $10 words when a nickel word will do. Showcase your vocabulary skills on your personal blog.
Don’t bury your lede… Put the important, news-worthy stuff first, not a few sentences in or halfway down. You need to capture the readers' interest RIGHT AWAY. This is especially true for AP and News articles, but should be used as a general guideline for all articles.
Please allow four to five sentences before the first heading. DO NOT put any hyperlinks in the first paragraph. Shorter paragraphs and sentences are preferred because they’re easier to read. I’d prefer that you not make every sentence its own paragraph, but I’d rather you do that than write a huge run-on paragraph sentence.
Please work to avoid run-on sentences. I see so many paragraphs that are a single long sentence.
Phrases and em dashes are great, they’re part of the language, but if your sentence has so many turns of phrases and connections and conjunctions that it essentially starts rambling and you’re not sure where one idea ends and the next begins because you’re on a roll and you don’t want to stop until you’ve finished a thought, that might be just a little too long for someone to follow and still understand or grasp – keep track of, if you will – the idea that you started the sentence with and thus rendering the entire sentence nearly pointless because of the lack of understanding.
Does that make sense? (Yes, I did that on purpose)
Please avoid profanity whenever possible. You don’t need it and it restricts our syndication on MSN, which helps pay for writers.
The same goes for profanity adjacent – i.e, titular, cocky, nude, smoking, vaping,
It sounds weird, but avoid using commonly misused words, like Dick – make it Richard or D. Last name. Dick will get us flagged, even when it's the sporting goods store. If you can picture Beavis and Butthead getting excited by the use of the word, try something else.
We try to avoid negativity at all times. We don’t cancel, we don’t bitch and complain about what we don’t like, and we don’t do anything that might ruin a fandom for someone, especially if they’re just being introduced to the topic.
We uplift whenever possible. We are welcoming.
Personal pet peeve – the ruler of a country is a premier; the debut of a show or movie is a premiere.
Please try to avoid repeating yourself. If you’ve used a sentence already and you’re writing another one that’s the same or close, consider rewriting it. I’ve been doing this for 30+ years and there is always another way to say something.
The same goes for vocabulary. WordHippo.com is your friend. Even if you’ve been given an SEO term to incorporate, it only needs to happen 2-3 times in the article –> not every other sentence.
Avoid passive voice. Use active verbs and the reader will be more engaged.
Watch for subject-verb agreement.
Clarity is wonderful – say what you need to say once, clearly. Avoid repeating the same idea two or three different ways.
In almost every case, write out the full name of something before you abbreviate it. You have to assume that this is the first time the reader is encountering the terms. They don’t necessarily know that EFTs are Exchange Traded Funds.
Don’t use terms to define themselves. i.e., “Crypto Lending is lending your crypto.”
“Read below…” “Read on…” Please excise these from your vocabulary. Those phrases scream “blogger,” not a professional writer. Especially if you’re doing an AP or News article, do not use these phrases.
Periods and commas always go within the quotation marks. The dash, semicolon, question mark, and exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.
Use consistent capitalization and spelling for names, website titles & quotes. If it’s CanAm one time, it shouldn’t be Canam the next time, or CANAM. Also, use proper brand names – it’s YouTube, TikTok, Wealthtender, Instagram, Spider-Man, Superman, Obi-Wan, and IMDb.
We utilize our partners and avoid promoting our competitors – if there is an opportunity to link to someplace like Forbes, Finance, Collider, or BuzzFeed, I’d rather you use Wealthtender (Slack channel #get-expert-qoutes) or one of our sources – either another writer with experience, or one of the other websites we work with. If in doubt, ask.
All links that are not from Wealth of Geeks or our partners should be marked “no follow” – if in doubt, mark a link “no follow,” the editors and I will be checking them.