About BlakeWrites

The purpose of BlakeWrites is to create content that helps people live better. Content should provoke thought, provide inspiration, or pique interest, and should keep in mind that our readership is primarily male-identifying, aged 18-45, and predominantly in the United States (about 80% of readers) and the United Kingdom (about 15% of readers).

We aren't trying to sell or convert readers. Instead, we're putting forth content that recognizes what the traditional narratives of masculinity are and critiques these preconceptions when they can contribute to unhealthy behaviors, such as toxic masculinity.

Comprehensive Style Guide

For obscure use cases not covered in this guide, please consult the Chicago Manual of Style or contact the managing editor directly.

Voice and Tone

Voice

When writing in the BlakeWrites voice:

  1. We are plainspoken. We don't make assumptions that our audience is either highly educated or uneducated. We're just direct and informative without being either condescending or pedantic. 
  2. We are inclusive. We recognize that not everybody is going to have the same experiences that we do. Some of the topics we write about are generally going to appeal to some demographics more than others, but even when we are specifically writing for a subset of the audience, we don't want to put up walls to keep other groups away.
  3. We are genuine. There is no need to put on a facade or be insincere. The point of BlakeWrites is that there is a spectrum of masculine experience, and each experience is equally valid. Write from your experience and speak your truth. So long as ye harm none, do what ye will.
  4. We are fine with being rough around the edges. Often, people assume that if you're inclusive and politically correct, you're dry and boring. I disagree. It's totally fine to crack a joke, use profanity, make a dick joke, or all of the above. Just use each in moderation and don't overdo it.

Tone

Remember that you are writing to our audience of male and masc-identifying folks ages 18-45, and that our core focus is to enable our audience to live better lives. These are our friends and our peers, so when writing, adopt the same tone that you would use to communicate with your friends and peers in person. Don't preach at our readers, but don't just give them fluff alone either.

Write with an informal, community-oriented tone. Use the second person perspective (writing to "you") rather than the third person (writing to "one") unless it would put the reader in an uncomfortable position to refer to them directly; for example "You perpetuate toxic masculinity by being a dick to your coworkers" is abrasive, but "Men often perpetuate toxic masculinity in the workplace by being rude to their coworkers" is more acceptable.

Topic Clusters and Keywords

Each assigned article will have an associated "pillar page." These pillar pages are to be used to guide the overall tone and direction of the piece being written. Content should not take an approach of keyword stuffing– instead, the focus should be on creating thoughtful content that accentuates each pillar page's core concepts. 

Blog posts should have a strong implicit, thematic connection to their associated pillar page. This allows readers to easily identify larger clusters of content that are relevant to them, and it makes it easier for new readers to locate BlakeWrites over search engines.

Writers should plan on integrating keyword variations of the core pillar topic in the post title and headings. For example, if the core topic is "Men's Health," then integrating keywords such as "Best Exercises to Lose Weight," "Men's Health Risks," or "Building Muscle" should be integrated into headings and the title.

Blog Post Formatting

Title

Blog post titles should be written in title case. E.g. "The Truth About Cigarettes" not "The truth about cigarettes".

Try to keep titles around 60 characters, including spaces.

As much as possible, place your core topic keyword variation first in your post title. For example, in a blog post reviewing a pair of bargain underwear, "[Brand] Underwear Review | Finding the Perfect Fit" is a better title than "How does it fit? [Brand] Underwear Review" because Brand Underwear Review instantly tells skimming readers and search engines what to expect.

Headers

Aim to include an H2 header approximately once every 300 words if it makes sense to do so within your content. If your content logically only has one H2 header, consider breaking your post up into sections with H3 header tags.

All headers should be written in title case, using a header font style, and should not be bolded, italicized, or underlined. Include only a single line break before and after headers; there is no need to add an additional space between headers and paragraph content. 

It is fine to have subsequent, stacked headers (such as H2 on one line, H3 on the next, and Paragraph on the next), but make sure the progression is logical. You wouldn't want to go from an H2, which signifies a significant topic for a piece of content, directly to an H4-H6, which identify minor concepts and should only be used sparingly. 

Paragraphs

Paragraphs should be written in block format, and should not be indented. As with headers, do not add additional spaces between paragraphs– hitting the return key once at the end of a paragraph is sufficient. If you are adding an additional space for visual purposes, consider using the "add space after paragraph" function in your word processor instead. Hitting the return key more than once creates an unnecessary <p>&nbsp</p> when the page gets converted to HTML on the website, and these have to be removed manually.

As much as possible, try to keep paragraphs under 200 words. For some more in-depth and feature pieces of content, it is acceptable to go over this length, but for the majority of content there is no need to write more for a single paragraph. Shorter paragraphs make it easier for readers who are quickly skimming the page to not be overwhelmed by blocks of text. 

Grammar & Punctuation

Capitalizing Job Titles

Capitalize someone's job title only if it appears immediately before their name.

Examples:

  • President Barack Obama
  • HubSpot Academy Director Mark Kilens

Do not capitalize team names or job titles in the middle of a sentence.

Examples:

  • Don't write: John Smith is one of HubSpot's Agency Partners.
  • Do write: John Smith is one of HubSpot's agency partners.

Numbers

Use numerals for cardinal and ordinal numbers in headlines, email subject lines, and titles. 

 Examples:

  • In Pamplona, 8 Injured in “Running of the Bulls” (Headline)

  • Presentation file 1 of 2 attached (Email subject line)

  • 5th Grader Wins 1st Place in Spelling Bee (Headline)

In all other copy, spell out cardinal numbers (one, two, and so on) and ordinal numbers (first, second, and so on) below 10, but use numerals for numbers 10 and above. Express large and very large numbers in numerals followed by million, billion, and so forth. If expressing a number greater than 999 in numerals, use a comma.

Oxford/ Serial Commas 

In this house, we use the Oxford comma. If your sentence includes a series, use the Oxford comma. 

E.g. "apples, oranges, and bananas" not "apples, oranges and bananas." This is not an AP-based website. 

oxford comma meme

Ampersand

Do not use an ampersand (&) in place of "and" unless it's part of a company name or space is severely limited. When using an ampersand in place of and in a series, do not insert a comma before it. The combination of comma and ampersand creates visual clutter.

Example:

  • We met the customer at Cutler & Co.

Personal Pronouns and Titles

The singular "they."

We use the singular “they,” which can be used not only to avoid the wordiness of “he or she,” but also as a singular gender-neutral pronoun to refer to people whose genders are unknown or who identify as neither male nor female.

Instead of: "Ask each of the students what he or she wants for lunch." (traditionally grammatically correct)

You can say: "Ask each of the students what they want for lunch.” (now accepted as grammatically correct)

And for gender neutrality: “Sandra referred me to her mechanic. I've heard they're quite good.”

Blockquotes and Citations

Standard Quotes and References

Always, always, always cite your sources with an inline hyperlink if you reference data, graphics, or information from another source.

If the person or institution you are citing also has a significant social media presence include their social media handles in parentheses after the quotation. For example, if I were to discuss trends in shopping, I might want to include the following: 

According to a recently published article on MSN, Paris Hilton is quoted as saying, "What’s Wal-Mart? Do they sell, like wall stuff?" (@ParisHilton)

Ultimately, the social media handle may be edited out of the body of the article, but it does help to streamline the outreach and link building process while editing. 

Long Quotes 

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Precede blockquotes with a colon.

If you are using a word processor that has a blockquote formatting option, use it. That will allow me to transfer the document onto the website in a way that easily converts to HTML. 

Incorrect:

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald wrote that "He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey."

Correct:

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald wrote:

He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey

Images, Illustrations, and Graphics

As a general rule of thumb, avoid using images, illustrations, or other graphics (collectively referred to as "images" throughout the rest of this section) within your blog posts unless you can verify that the image is not restricted by license. If you choose to use an image, please ensure that you provide a direct link to where you sourced the image. If we cannot verify that the image is not restricted by license, the image will be removed and replaced by another.

If you have taken or created an image that you would like to use, you may do so. Please include a notation indicating that you are the creator of the image and that you have granted permission for it to be used on BlakeWrites in your message (not in the body of the post) at the time of submission. 

Typically images do not transfer easily from Word documents or Google Docs to our hosting platform, so if you choose to include an image, be sure to include a copy as an attachment to your message at the time of submission (i.e. you'll submit the article and an image file). 

If your content relies on data, try to use a chart rather than a table as much as possible. Tables are a pain in the ass for mobile responsiveness, and if a table is used, I essentially have to recode it from scratch and apply some complicated javascript.

TL;DR- Don't use any images that you can't prove you have permission to use, include image files as separate attachments, and don't use a table in your blog post unless 10000% necessary.