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MyFrenchLife™ style guide

Table of contents

Introduction

Important reminders
a. Original & Exclusive
b. Promotional articles
c. Publication
d. Pitching & submitting articles

1. Voice, tone & language
a. Understanding the audience
b. Tone & voice

2. Stylistic elements of all posts
a. Online best practice
b. Items to be included in each post
c. Use of colour

3. Spelling, grammar & syntax

4. Basic SEO requirements of each post
a. Internal links
b. External links
c. Keywords

5. Use of imagery
a. Visually-appealing and high quality.
b. Image permissions
c. Image handling protocol

Introduction

This document is designed to be both a guide and a checklist, to assist you in submitting content that fits with the MyFrenchLife™ editorial line. It contains details on how to tailor articles to our audience, essential items to be included in each post, and a style guide for spelling, grammar and syntax.

Please refer to this information regularly and carefully, and ensure that all aspects of this document are adhered to before submitting content.

Important reminders

a. Original & exclusive
All articles contributed to My French Life™ – Ma Vie Française® must be your original work.

Material submitted for publication to My French Life™ are not to be re-produced in anyway anywhere else. If you have a blog or website, we encourage you to write an introductory paragraph and link through to the article. This can help you widen your readership. We can provide examples of how to do this.

b. Promotional articles
My French Life™ does not publish articles that could be perceived as promotional.

Articles are to be a personal perspective on all things French. We do welcome advice and personal recommendations; however the article should be very clearly expressed as such. We will return any article we feel does not adhere to these principles. We prefer researched, considered, deep exploration of your views and recommendations.

c. Publication
Publication of all articles submitted is at the discretion of the editorial team at My French Life™.

d. Pitching & submitting articles
Please note that we ask all writers to submit an official pitch before starting to write their article. For more information on how to pitch articles, please click here.

For more information on how to submit articles, please click here.

1. Voice, tone & language

a. Understanding the audience
It’s very important that all content submitted to MyFrenchLife™ is appropriate and appealing to our audience. Our mission is to help our members:

  • Connect with France beyond the cliché: gain a deeper understanding & greater appreciation of France, the culture & people.
  • Design and plan their French life when in France or wherever they live: discover interesting experiences & inspiring people
  • Be a traveller, rather than a tourist
  • Finesse their French language skills at home and in France.
  • Connect with other Francophiles, French natives, and expats: online, emotionally and figuratively and/or face to face.

Please click here to read about our audience in more detail, and how to tailor content for them.

b. Tone & Voice
Our readers crave content that is aspirational, engaging, intelligent, friendly, and creative. Don’t forget a sense of humour. They are also savvy, forward-thinking, and open and they look for an emotional connection too…

Writers help members by passing on experiences, thoughts, secrets, tips, advice, and insight. They speak to readers on their level, to help them build on their already extensive knowledge of France and the French culture.

Our magazine is made up of many unique voices, rather than having one set editorial line. Your voice, your individuality is what makes MyFrenchLife™ special!

2. Stylistic elements of all articles

a. Online best practice

i. Word limit – posts are to be between 600 – 800 words.

ii. Writing for the web:

  • Use shorter paragraphs and sentences
  • Include sub-headings (see 2b)
  • Adhere to SEO requirements: use primary & secondary keywords, MyFrenchLife™ keywords, and include links (see section 3 for more detail).

b. Items to be included in each post:

i. Bold first paragraph

The first paragraph is to be bolded (with no links). This is followed by a non-bolded paragraph (at least one) before the first sub-heading.

ii. Sub-headings
As per best practice for online content, each post is to contain sub-headings: two to three are preferred for a 400-650 word post. They are to be written in sentence case (as outlined in section 2a above) and will contain keywords (see section 3 below).

iii. Call-to-action
Each post is to contain a clear call-to-action for the reader. Thus, each post (be it on social media or the blog) will be written with a clear aim in mind. Is it to:

  • Be shared by the reader?
  • Be commented upon?
  • Or is it a call-to-action that leads to an activity on MyFrenchLife™?

This call-to-action will take the form of:

  • A question at the base of the article, to encourage comments on the article or social media
  • Followed by a clear direction for the reader to take: e.g. comment below, share this article, tell us what you think on Twitter.

c. Use of colour (for formatters)
Text is to always be the default grey colour (#72665a). Note that this grey is a default and you should not have to add coding! It’s automatic.

Subheadings are to be default grey, or red (#d10a26).

All links are to be default blue link colour.

3. Spelling, grammar & syntax

a. Titles and sub-headings: All are to be in sentence case.

b. Spelling: Writers are to use their own native spelling (USA, UK, Australian etc.). Editors will sub-edit articles accordingly.

To read more on the differences between Australian, British, and American spelling, click here.

c. Numbers: In general text, spell out numbers zero to ten; use numerals thereafter (e.g. nine, ten, 11, 105, 1968) – however numerals may be used in article titles.

Write 4-digit numbers without a space: e.g. 1000, 2349; and numbers greater than 10 000 with one space: e.g. 11 000, 23 490

d. Times: 3am (not 3 a.m.)

e. Dates: Wednesday 26 June 2013 – do not use commas or ordinal numbers: except for centuries e.g. 17th, 18th etc.

Numbers under ten are to be numerals when written as a date: e.g. 2 November.

f. Capitalisation: Use sentence case (minimal capitalisation) for titles and sub-headings. Always capitalise company and publication names according to the company’s preference.

g. Italics: Use italics only for non-English words. (Note: this does not include names of people, places or French words used commonly in English.)
e.g.vin chaudjoie de vivre but Rue Henri Monnier; Françoise Sagan; etc.

h. Quotation marks: Use single quotation marks for book, film, song titles etc., or for emphasis. Use double quotation marks only for spoken words (e.g. verbal quotes, dialogue etc).
e.g. ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’; Zola’s ‘The Gin Palace’, but “I think therefore I am”.

If a sentence contains quoted matter, the final full stop should be placed inside the closing quotation mark.
e.g. Duras said in a 1990 interview, “I don’t like tender people. I myself am very harsh.”

If a quote fragment is contained within a sentence, place punctuation outside the closing quotation mark.
e.g. Anna said that updating the style guide was a “difficult and tiring task”.

i. References: If possible, link to your source within the text of the article: place a hyperlink behind a relevant word or phrase. Footnotes may also be used. List these at the base of the article, using Chicago referencing style.

Within the text, if the footnote falls at the end of a sentence, the number is placed after the full stop.
e.g. Sartre claimed “the destiny of man is placed within himself”.?

j. Acronyms: Full stops are not used between the letters that form an acronym. (e.g. The UN, not the U.N.)

k. Linking: Place hyperlinks behind relevant words, rather than as a URL. Do not link terminal punctuation (e.g. full stops, quotation marks, colons).

l. Colons: the first word after a colon is not capitalised.

m. Percentages: write as % in headlines and copy. When a percentage value under ten is given, write it as a numeral: e.g. 4% rather than four per cent.

n. Trademarks: When writing MyFrenchLife™, the ™, signifying Trademark pending, is to always be included. MaVieFrançaise® is to always have the ® for Registered Trademark after it. Both of these symbols are to be found in the ‘Special character’ menu of WordPress, which you can find by clicking the Omega symbol in the formatting toolbar.

For all other spelling and grammar queries not contained here, refer to the Guardian & Observer style guide.

4. Basic SEO requirements of all articles

a. Internal links
Each post is to contain at least two links to other posts or pages on MyFrenchLife™, hyperlinked behind a relevant word or short phrase (2-4 words).

b. External links
Each post is to also contain at least two links to external websites, hyperlinked behind a relevant phrase (2-4 words).

It is preferred that these external links are for well-ranked or highly respected websites: check web ranking on Alexa.com.

c. Keywords
i. MyFrenchLife™ keywords:
The MyFrenchLife™ keywords are: French • France • français • française • francophiles • francophile • expat.

A selection of these keywords are to be present in:

  • Subheadings – each sub-heading must contain at least one
  • Each paragraph of body text – each section must contain at least one
  • At least one in the title

ii. Article keywords
Content is to also be optimised for an appropriate keyword or phrase that is relevant to the content.

Once an article has been pitched, the internal editing team will add a primary keyword (or phrase) and a secondary keyword (or phrase). For example, if it is a travel guide for Paris, the main key phrase might be ‘Things to do in Paris’ and a secondary key phrase would be ‘Paris city guide’.

As per best practice SEO, these key phrases are to be placed in:

  • The title, at the beginning if possible.
  • The first paragraph or two of the article.
  • Image file names and alt-tags.
  • At least three to four times throughout the article (this can be inclusive of the first paragraph or two).

iii. Information on SEO
If you’d like to learn a bit more about writing for the web and SEO, and also why we ask writers to insert links and keywords, please visit our guide to online content.

5. Use of imagery

a. Visually-appealing and high quality
We want our members and readers to be attracted to the content and imagery. We will under no circumstances use cliché stock imagery: if we are to use it, it must be in the realm of photography, not stock imagery. Unsplash is our main example and source.

b. Image permissions
All images are to be the writer’s own, creative commons, or if neither of these, used with written permission of the photographer.

i. Creative commons
Creative Commons is a type of licence that enables content to be reused and shared. There are different levels of licensing, some requiring attribution and others not. For example, Unsplash does not require attribution, whereas most CC images on Flickr do. Check for the particular terms of the type of licence being used, or if in doubt, always provide an image credit.

ii. Sourcing creative commons
The easiest places to find creative commons images are FlickrWikipedia, or Google.

On Flickr, use the ‘Advanced Search’ function. Scroll the to base of the page, and tick the box that says ‘Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content’.

On Google, type in the search term you’re looking for, then select the small ‘Tools’ icon on the far right of the page (it looks like a cog). Then, select ‘Advanced Search’. Down the very base of that p, ge you will see a field entitled ‘usage rights’. From this dropdown box select ‘free to use or share’.

All images from Wikipedia are also creative commons.

Lastly, a number of websites offer nice stock images that are free, and creative commons. For these websites, we don’t have to provide a credit. We generally use these websites for creating the graphics on our website. We don’t like tacky stock imagery, but we are happy to use good quality images from sites like UnsplashGratisographyLittle Visuals, or New Old Stock.

c. Image handling protocol
All image file names are to be as follows: Photographer/Author name – Article primary keyword – Description of image – MyFrenchLife™ MyFrenchLife.org

e.g.:MyFrenchLife™ – MyFrenchLife.org – Hannah Duke – Paris city guide – Eiffel Tower







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