Last Updated: 5/29/23
In addition to the General Guidelines for All Articles, there are particular, precisely defined rules and guidelines for articles that are defined as News and/or are intended to be syndicated (sent) to the Associated Press (AP).
Regardless of your formal training or prior qualifications, you have now been brought on board to be a journalist for Wealth of Geeks. While our Entertainment writers get to be a little more casual, our News Writers don’t have that privilege. You need to write and produce content like professional journalists.
While we are writing online articles, the newspaper writing style was born out of the limited space in print newspapers. Bring this same mindset to writing articles for AP.
- Traditional AP News: – 800-1200 words
- News Lite/Press Release AP – 600-900 words
For Your Lede –
Tell me WHY TODAY? Why is this article important? Why is this topic interesting? How is it relevant to their lives? Why should they care? We have 1-2 sentences (and seconds!) to grab their attention. Why should they read this instead of a different article?
Do not start the article with anything that comes across as ‘business as usual.' Avoid anything that starts with these or similar phrases:
- “It's no surprise…”
- “Everyone knows…”
- “It’s not lost on anyone…”
- “We're no stranger to…”
DO NOT save the best information for later – Put it in first!
You were not hired to be a blogger – you are a News Writer.
Journalists use the inverted pyramid style of writing where the most important information is presented first, and then all the supporting information follows. This is the opposite of term paper writing from high school and college.
Content Is Accurate and Supported With Evidence –
Journalistic style is reporting on facts, not “seems like a fact,” or your opinion. Do not assume general knowledge. Could you defend every single statement in a court of law against a lawyer? I know this may seem silly, but I’ve caught inaccurate facts in submitted articles. Don’t assume, double-check.
Be objective – I don't care what your political affiliation is – I don't want to see it in your article. Period.
Articles should be informative, insightful, and written in the third person singular.
Avoid phrases like “you may wonder” – we make declarative statements based on fact. We don’t wonder, we explain, we tell, we describe.
Be careful with adjectives. For example, stay away from ‘best.’ Use what makes it best? Award-winning, highly-rated, top-selling, most visited, etc.
Make sure you have support for the claims and statements you are making unless it is very well-known common sense. Use “Studies have shown….” “According to XYZ…” and link to the evidence. Double-check and try to avoid using outdated statistics. 78% of all articles online quote a statistic that is more than 18 months old.
Try not to end on a quote – but if you do, make it a killer one.
Following trends is great. But we also want to get AHEAD of other news sources. Other reporters do it all the time – we can too. Keep your eyes open and always be thinking, what's another angle to this that no one else has perhaps thought of?
Yes, your articles will be edited, but you are being paid a premium for premium, professional content. We expect articles proper AP style and adhere to AP rules. If you cannot follow these guidelines, I will have to remove you from the AP News team. There are plenty of other content areas you can write for.
We do not simply rewrite news we’ve found somewhere else. Your work needs to be entirely original. You can use another article as a source for part of your article, but do not use a single source for an entire article.
We are objective, but with a clear point of view.
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.
If you are ever unsure of a word or that you are using it properly, look it up. There's no shame in this – I personally do it all the time.
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,
Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style is a reliable physical resource. Online, Purdue University has a Free AP Style Overview. The Writer's Room also has an AP Stylebook. Both are updated periodically with changes to the agreed-upon AP Style. Bookmark them. Use them.
WordHippo.com is your friend. Bookmark it. Use it.
Interviews are a wonderful way to set our articles apart. Source them yourself, use HARO (Help A Reporter Out), or check with our network experts, especially for financial quotes, at Wealthtender. Make sure you take notes, get proper links for attribution, and credit the experts appropriately. Document and do not destroy those notes. We may need them later. And it should go without saying, but ALWAYS make sure the links and attribution are ACCURATE.
News articles do not need to source a featured image, I will do this unless you have a specific image from someone in the article. You can add charts and graphs and images inside the article, but do not refer to them, because they will not be brought over to the AP syndication and we don’t want to confuse people.
All AP & News Articles end with this sentence:
“This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.” (minus the quotes)
AP News articles are unique in this aspect. Please do not turn in an article without this final line.
Unless you are specifically instructed to, do not worry about the featured image.