Guidelines for Contributors

style guideThis short guide for contributors will help you determine what would be appropriate to post to what category and how to write stories in keeping with this newsletter's style and mission.

This newsletter is for news about the programs and services of the Utah Government Information Locator Service otherwise known as gilsUtah. This is a community, led by the Utah State Library Division, that develops standards, provides tools, and trains agencies how to make Utah government information more accessible and easily retrievable.

The news is public and is distributed worldwide to potentially thousands of readers via RSS feeds and email. Because it is distributed at the speed of light and is retrievable for all perpetuity using Internet search engines, care and discretion must be taken regarding content, spelling, grammar, and personal viewpoints.

Because it's better to have another set of eyeballs review submissions, your story will be first saved in draft mode. Ray Matthews, acting as editor, will review your story and then make it public by publishing it. At some future time, when the news is transferred to a State server, we'll probably have the editing function performed by our Division's public relations officer.

How to Become a Contributor
Just email Ray Matthews with a request to be added. Your username will be your "Firstname Lastname." In your message, tell him what password you want to use. Ray will write back and confirm your username and password.

Stories should be short and conform to good journalistic practices. For crafting well written stories see PRWeb's "Press Release Tips and Guidelines." Active voice is preferred to passive. Third person personal pronouns common to newspaper stories are preferred over first person pronouns commonly found in blogs.

You may want to first spell check submissions by cutting and pasting the content into a spell checker such as MS Word. is a good source of reference sources for writers.

How to Use the Fields
Always write a short teaser of 50 words or a paragraph that both entices the reader and summarizes your story. Put this in the "Excerpt" field.

Your full article goes in the "Entry Body" field.

If you have a story of substance of two or more paragraphs, copy the teaser as the first paragraph in the "Entry Body" field and italicize it.

If you've written an a press release or an original story with geographic origins beyond Salt Lake City, you may elect to begin the second paragraph with:

City, State (

This second paragraph should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your story. Your full story should be at least two paragraphs.

At the conclusion, you can create a "Read more" paragraph for the titles of other publications that have either related stories or the sources you used for your story. Format this paragraph in italics bracketed within font size="-2" tags. Separate these publication titles with | separators and provide hypertext links.

Put your cursor in the "Extended Entry" field and press the spacebar. This will automatically insert a "read more" link to your story from the homepage.

Write a catchy and creative title. It must be informative so that someone reading the title using an aggregator or seeing it search engine results will know what the story is about. Keep its length fairly short... maybe 50 characters or so. Captialize all words except for short articles and prepositions: of, it, the, a, an, from, etc.

Select a primary category for each story. You may find, because of your interests or specialty, that you will submit all your stories to a single category. In some cases, your story will be appropriate for multiple categories. To do that, click the save button and then click on the link to "Assign Multiple Categories." Select the one or ones you want and save. Stories in each category are published to their own channel and email newsletter.

A graphic thumbnail in the style of the New York Times email newsletter is often nice. The thumbnail should convey meaning, be public domain, be aligned left, and be no larger than 100 pixels square, as a general rule. Other graphics such as screen shots and logos can be included as appropriate. Include the thumbnail in the entry body. The excerpt content is used for the streaming RSS feed. We're going to investigate to see if it is a good or bad practice to include graphics in the feeds.

Yes, please do include links to other stories in this newsletter, to resources on state servers, and external resources. Just use standard HTML tags. The easiest way to add a link is to highlight the text, click the "url" button, and paste the url in the popup window. Please do NOT put HTML tags in the title field. You can also do things like bulleted lists and PRE content using standard HTML tagging.

Posted by Ray Matthews on November 06, 2002 at 04:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!