June 30, 2004

Blog Style Manual

This is a set of suggested best practices for bloggers in a "multiblog" environment, to encourage uniformity among the blogs. Uniformity improves usability.

This was written for the bloggers at Georgia State University Library, but you're free to usurp these recommendations for your own organization. If you would like to make additional suggestions, please post comments or drop me an e-mail (we may incorporate your recommendations into our library document).

Date of last update: 9/14/04

These guidelines are recommended "best practices" for blogging.

The Big Picture:
If you're contributing to a multi-subject blog, consider your audience. Make an effort to provide news of interest to all potential users served by the blog.

Creating an Entry:
Headings should be in initial caps (Library Hours Update vs. Library hours update).

Avoid excess space between blog entries by deleting hard returns under your text. The cursor should not be able to go beyond your last line of text.

If you're hand-coding any HTML, do not forget closing tags. Otherwise, the entire entry as well as your earlier ones may be reformatted. This may only be an issue if you're coding the title, which is not covered in the WYSIWYG editor.

Do not copy-and-paste from Microsoft Word into blog postings. MS Word adds unnecessary code that can make the blogs non-compliant with XML/RSS standards, which affects end-users who are viewing your entries through readers and aggregators.
  • Copy and paste the Word document into Notepad, and then copy and paste the document from Notepad into the WYSIWYG editor.
  • If you have a Word document on your computer, save it as a Web Page and use Textism's Word Cleaner.
  • Go into the 'HTML' view of your entry and the excess code manually.

Be careful when copying and pasting from other web sites (including blogs) directly into your entry. When you do this, you also copy the formatting tags so your text could be in a different font and size from our blog standard. The excess code also affects how the entries are viewed in readers. These excess tags should be deleted while you're in the 'HTML' view.

Only write out hyperlinks short enough for someone to type themselves, if you write any out at all.

  • If the URL is long and cumbersome, like a URL to a Science Direct article or GIL record, embed it in the text of the article like this instead of typing it out like https://gil.gsu.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&v1=1&ti=1,1&Search etc.
  • It's preferable to embed all hyperlinks like this, but if the URL is short enough that someone who prints off the blog entry can retype the hyperlink to get to the site, then writing out the URL is acceptable though not necessary. If you do this, try not to add too many additional lines to your entry.

When linking to licensed resources, make sure the URLs are proxy- or SFX-enabled so GSU patrons can access these resources.

  • Add http://ezproxy.gsu.edu:2048/login?url= to the beginning of your hyperlink to route the patron through the proxy server.
  • Use the Open URL Generator to create an SFX-enabled URL. The Open URL Generator is located on the Intranet under "SFX Info." You can enter parts of the citation and generate a link that you can copy/paste and embed into your entry, but the easiest and most effective way to use this tool is to use the article's DOI (digital object identifier).

If you quote material from other sources:

  • Don't quote everything when a relevant sentence or paragraph may be enough, especially since you will include a hyperlink back to the original source in the entry.
  • Cite the source, and clearly distinguish the quoted material from your words. The easiest way to do this is to italicize the quoted text and indent it with the blockquote tags.

If you a find a link to a resource on another blog (ResourceShelf, for example) that you want to post on yours, even if you're not directly quoting from that site you should consider giving them credit. A simple "Link via ResourceShelf" will suffice. Remember, you would want the same credit from someone else. However, it's not necessary to give this credit if the link is from one of the other GSU Library blogs.

If you're using images, please follow the same copyright guidelines that apply to the library Web site.

Before You Post:
Proofread your entries in the 'View' option in your blog manager (ideally, while the entry is surpressed and before it goes live). Check spelling and grammar, and test any links to make sure they work. Creating bad links from the beginning is probably a bigger problem than links that break in the future.

Refrain from deleting or suppressing your posted entries.

  • If the links have expiration dates, indicate that in your post, and offer alternate access points if available: Lexis Nexis for NYT articles, for example.
  • Recycle the entry. You may have an entry that you want to post for a brief period of time and then delete once the information's no longer relevant, like an announcement about a database outage. Instead of deleting/suppressing it, update it accordingly ("there was an outage...") but don't delete or suppress it. The next time you have to post such an announcement, just reuse this entry and reset the date.

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