October 18, 2018
JaxCoHome

Guidelines & Policies

jchadmin

Getting Published

Article Submissions

JaxCoHome accepts submissions for online publications related to Jackson County, Mississippi in these topic areas: community, environment, education, business, arts/culture, food/drink, entertainment, community, and health/wellness. Any article submitted to us must be original and exclusive to JaxCoHome, with the exception of publishing to the organization’s own website or social media channel(s). In these cases, original credit should be given to JaxCoHome with a referring link to the story page @jaxcohome.

Do not submit story ideas via the dashboard, only finished manuscripts as required by the fields provided.  Story ideas may be submitted to [email protected].  However, JaxCoHome has a very limited writing staff and completed manuscripts have a far greater likelihood of being published.

Submissions should be uploaded via your user dashboard  Once writers create a user account, they will be able to submit and manage stories via the Article Submission Page

We do our best to review all submissions in a timely manner. Lengthier articles will take longer to evaluate. Articles that contain questionable points that may require fact-checking will also take longer and may not be published if facts cannot be validated in a timely manner.  JaxCoHome reserves the right to edit submissions for clarity.

Prospective authors are required to disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest, including but not limited to any financial interest in any product, firm, or commercial venture relevant to their submission. Failure to do so will result in prominently placed corrections.  These disclosures should be made in the Author Bio.

Please allow up to 48 hours (i.e., excluding weekends and holidays) for us to review your work; we cannot accept for review any submissions that do not allow for this timeframe. Also, please do not submit follow-up emails inquiring as to your submission’s status. If you have not heard from us after five business days have elapsed, feel free to submit your article elsewhere.

 

Do’s and Dont’s

Submit articles that benefit the reader. Advertorial articles, will not be published.  When comparing products or services, articles should be impartial and fact based.  Articles that voice bias or favoritism based on opinion only, will not be published.  When possible, include quotes from relative sources.

Examples

Yes: Ten Questions to Ask When Selecting Homeowner’s Insurance

No: Ten Reasons Your Homeowner’s Policy Should be with ACME Insurance

Yes:  Customer Reviews Earn ACME Insurance JC Chamber Small Business of the Year Award (if writer is ACME Insurance representative, include quotes from chamber and customers, as well as key ACME personnel)

No:   ACME Insurance Treats Customers Better

Complete the Author Bio to include the contributor/writer’s name along with information that lends credibility as well as clarifies any potential conflicts of interests (i.e. employer, businesses owned, organization affiliations, etc.).  Author photo must be uploaded in advance of story approval.  Embedding links to the contributor/writer’s own site or business site are allowable and recommended in this area, granted the site is fully functional and in good taste (no vulgarity, nudity, hate mongering, etc.).

Include photos or video.  Stories are more likely to get published and read when accompanied by image(s).  Some stories may not be published if no accompanying image.  Images can be uploaded within the article submission area.  Use only original images or images you have permission to use.  Images from the JaxCoHome photo galleries can be used within JaxCoHome when photo credit is given (at the end of the manuscript).

Set links to open in new tab.  When embedding links, writer’s should always modify the settings for the link to open in new tab.  Failure to do so, may result in your article being returned to you for edits.  To do this,

  1. highlight the word(s) to be linked
  2. select the link icon in the tool bar (looks link two links in a chain)- a small window stating “Paste URL or type to search” will pop-up (near the highlighted word or bottom of the page)
  3. paste the url you want to link to in the text box
  4. click the grey gear icon located at the right side of the pop-up window where you pasted the URL, a window will open
  5. select the check box that states “Open link in a new tab”

Use of Brand/Name

Writing about JaxCoHome

While Jackson County Home is the publication name, JaxCoHome is the official site.   In cases that the use of logo are not relevant, such as referencing the website, content or publication within written text, either onsite and offsite, the prefered option is:

  • JaxCoHome
    Capitalize J, C, and H and do NOT add spaces.

When referencing JaxCoHome in social media posts, tags, etc. the following should be used:

  • @jaxcohome

Writing Goals and Principles

All JaxCoHome communications should portray excellence and openness, with a warmth and friendliness that accompanies the essence of what Jackson County strives to be. In writing content, be purposeful in engaging a broad spectrum of personalities and mindful of varied education levels of readers.

Adopting the writing principles outlined in this guide will enhance ease in reading and enjoyment of the content.

Failure to practice these guidelines could result in submitted articles not being published.  A gross disregard for the guidelines could result in registered user roles being revoked.

With every piece of content we publish, we aim to:

  • Empower. Provide a hub of information that allows people of Jackson County to be connected with their community
  • Educate. Tell readers what they need to know, not just what we want to say. Give them the exact information they need, along with opportunities to learn more. Remember that you’re the expert, and readers don’t have access to everything you know.
  • Guide. Think of yourself as an ambassador for your organization as well as Jackson County. Communicate in a friendly and helpful way.
  • Respect.  Follow the Golden Rule, treat people how you would like to be treated.  Be considerate and inclusive.
  • Speak truth.  Avoid dramatic storytelling and grandiose claims. Focus on real strengths

Voice & Writing Style

In order to achieve those goals, we make sure our content is:

  • Clear. Understand the topic you’re writing about. Use simple words and sentences.
  • Concise.  While details add color, be mindful of length. Long blocks of text are difficult to read online and can convey pretension. Functional text on the site, such as navigation or page descriptions, should be brief.
  • Useful. Before you start writing, ask yourself: What purpose does this serve? Who is going to read it? What do they need to know?
  • Friendly. Write like a human. All of our content should be warm and human.  Write like you’re telling a story — not issuing a press release.
  • Active. Use an active, rather than passive voice to keep prose lively and interesting.
  • Humble.  Don’t let pride come across as arrogance. When pointing out a measure of success, keep it honest and go easy on the superlatives.
  • Appropriate. Write in a way that suits the situation. Just like you do in face-to-face conversations, adapt your tone depending on who you’re writing to and what you’re writing about.

Writing About People

Write with a person-first perspective.  It is important to write for and about other people in a way that’s compassionate, inclusive, and respectful. Being aware of the impact of your language will help make JaxCoHome a steward of good values in the world. In this section we’ll lay out some guidelines for writing about people with compassion, and share some resources for further learning.

Age

Don’t reference a person’s age unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing. If it isrelevant, include the person’s specific age, offset by commas.

  • The CEO, 16, just got her driver’s license.

Don’t refer to people using age-related descriptors like “young,” “old,” or “elderly.”

Disability

Don’t refer to a person’s disability unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing. If you need to mention it, use language that emphasizes the person first: ”she has a disability” rather than “she is disabled.”

When writing about a person with disabilities, don’t use the words “suffer,” “victim,” or “handicapped.” “Handicapped parking” is OK.

Gender and sexuality

Don’t call groups of people “guys.” Don’t call women “girls.”

Avoid gendered terms in favor of neutral alternatives, like “server” instead of “waitress” and “businessperson” instead of “businessman.”

It’s OK to use “they” as a singular pronoun.

Use the following words as modifiers, but never as nouns:

  • lesbian
  • gay
  • bisexual
  • transgender
  • trans
  • LGBT

Don’t use these words in reference to LGBT people or communities:

  • homosexual
  • queer
  • lifestyle
  • preference

Don’t use “same-sex” marriage, unless the distinction is relevant to what you’re writing. (Avoid “gay marriage.”) Otherwise, it’s just “marriage.”

When writing about a person, use their preferred pronouns. If you’re uncertain, just use their name.

Hearing

Use “deaf” as an adjective to describe a person with significant hearing loss. You can also use “partially deaf” or “hard of hearing.”

Medical conditions

Don’t refer to a person’s medical condition unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing.

If a reference to a person’s medical condition is warranted, use the same rules as writing about people with physical disabilities and emphasize the person first. Don’t call a person with a medical condition a “victim.”

Mental and cognitive conditions

Don’t refer to a person’s mental or cognitive condition unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing. Never assume that someone has a medical, mental, or cognitive condition.

Don’t describe a person as “mentally ill.” If a reference to a person’s mental or cognitive condition is warranted, use the same rules as writing about people with physical disabilities or medical conditions and emphasize the person first.

Vision

Use the adjective “blind” to describe a person who is unable to see. Use “low vision” to describe a person with limited vision.

Profanity

At no time will JaxCoHome publish or tolerate the use of profanity in a written article, social media, video, or any other related piece of content.

Politics

JaxCoHome is not a platform for political promotion. JaxCoHome does not endorse, support, or cater to any candidate or party as it relates to Jackson County, Mississippi. Articles that may contain political content in nature is unbiased. JaxCoHome will not publish political articles for self promotion or campaign awareness.

Typography

Font

The official JaxCoHome typefaces are preset and should not be deviated from.

Standard Size

Baseline font size of 14px is the default for post paragraph settings and should not be deviated from.  For content that is broken into multiple headers, Heading 4 is appropriate for headings within a post.

Grammar and Mechanics

Adhering to certain rules of grammar and mechanics helps us keep our writing clear and consistent. This section will lay out our house style, which applies to all of our content unless otherwise noted in this guide. (We cover a lot of ground in this section—the search feature will help if you’re looking for something in particular.)

Basics

Write for all readers. Some people will read every word you write. Others will just skim. Help everyone read better by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and subheaders.

Focus your message. Create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content, in sentences, paragraphs, sections, and pages.

Be concise. Use short words and sentences. Avoid unnecessary modifiers.

Be specific. Avoid vague language. Cut the fluff.

Be consistent. Stick to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.

Guidelines

Abbreviations and acronyms

If there’s a chance your reader won’t recognize an abbreviation or acronym, spell it out the first time you mention it. Then use the short version for all other references. If the abbreviation isn’t clearly related to the full version, specify in parentheses.

  • First use: Network Operations Center
    • Second use: NOC
  • First use: Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
    • Second use: UTC

If the abbreviation or acronym is well known, like API or HTML, use it instead (and don’t worry about spelling it out).

Active voice

Use active voice. Avoid passive voice.

In active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action. In passive voice, the subject of the sentence has the action done to it.

  • Yes: Marti logged into the account.
  • No: The account was logged into by Marti.

Words like “was” and “by” may indicate that you’re writing in passive voice. Scan for these words and rework sentences where they appear.

Capitalization

We use a few different forms of capitalization. Title case capitalizes the first letter of every word except articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. Sentence case capitalizes the first letter of the first word.

When writing out an email address or website URL, use all lowercase.

Don’t capitalize random words in the middle of sentences. Here are some words that we never capitalize in a sentence.

  • website
  • internet
  • online
  • email

Contractions

They’re great! They give your writing an informal, friendly tone. In most cases, use them as you see fit. Avoid them if you’re writing content that will be translated for an international audience.

Dates

Spell out the day of the week and abbreviate the month, unless you’re just referring to the month or the month and the year.

  • Saturday, Jan. 24
  • Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015
  • January 2015

Decimals and fractions

Spell out fractions.

  • Yes: two-thirds
  • No: 2/3

Use decimal points when a number can’t be easily written out as a fraction, like 1.375 or 47.2.

Money

When writing about US currency, use the dollar sign before the amount. Include a decimal and number of cents if more than 0.

  • $20
  • $19.99

When writing about other currencies, follow the same symbol-amount format:

  • ¥1
  • €1

Numbers

Spell out a number when it begins a sentence. Otherwise, use the numeral. This includes ordinals, too.

  • Ten new employees started on Monday, and 12 start next week.
  • I ate 3 donuts at Coffee Hour.
  • Meg won 1st place in last year’s Walktober contest.
  • We hosted a group of 8th graders who are learning to code.

Numbers over three digits get commas:

  • 999
  • 1,000
  • 150,000

Write out big numbers in full. Abbreviate them if there are space restraints, as in a tweet or a chart: 1k, 150k.

Percentages

Don’t use the % symbol. Spell out the word “percent.”

Ranges and spans

Use a hyphen (-) to indicate a range or span of numbers.

  • It takes 20-30 days.

Telephone numbers

Use periods without spaces between numbers (no parentheses or dashes). Use a country code if your reader is in another country.

  • 555.867.5309
  • +1.404.123.4567

Temperature

Use the degree symbol and the capital F abbreviation for Fahrenheit.

  • 98°F

Time

Use numerals and am or pm without a space.  Don’t use minutes for on-the-hour time.

  • 7am
  • 7:30pm

Use a hyphen between times to indicate a time period.

  • 7am-10:30pm

Specify time zones when writing about an event or something else people would need to schedule. Since JaxCoHome is in Pascagoula, we default to CT.

Abbreviate time zones within the continental United States as follows:

  • Eastern time: ET
  • Central time: CT
  • Mountain time: MT
  • Pacific time: PT

When referring to international time zones, spell them out: Nepal Standard Time, Australian Eastern Time. If a time zone does not have a set name, use its Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) offset.

Abbreviate decades when referring to those within the past 100 years.

  • the 00s
  • the 90s

When referring to decades more than 100 years ago, be more specific:

  • the 1900s
  • the 1890s

Punctuation

Apostrophes

The apostrophe’s most common use is making a word possessive. If the word already ends in an s and it’s singular, you also add an ‘s. If the word ends in an s and is plural, just add an apostrophe.

  • The donut thief ate Sam’s donut.
  • The donut thief ate Chris’s donut.
  • The donut thief ate the managers’ donuts.

Apostrophes can also be used to denote that you’ve dropped some letters from a word, usually for humor or emphasis. This is fine, but do it sparingly.

Colons

Use a colon (rather than an ellipses, em dash, or comma) to offset a list.

  • Erin ordered three kinds of donuts: glazed, chocolate, and pumpkin.

You can also use a colon to join two related phrases. If a complete sentence follows the colon, capitalize the first word.

  • I was faced with a dilemma: I wanted a donut, but I’d just eaten a bagel.

Commas

When writing a list, use the serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma)

  • Yes: David admires his parents, Oprah, and Justin Timberlake.
  • No: David admires his parents, Oprah and Justin Timberlake.

Otherwise, use common sense. If you’re unsure, read the sentence out loud. Where you find yourself taking a breath, use a comma.

Dashes and hyphens

Use a hyphen (-) without spaces on either side to link words into single phrase, or to indicate a span or range.

  • first-time user
  • Monday-Friday

Use an em dash (—) without spaces on either side to offset an aside.

Use a true em dash, not hyphens (- or –).

  • Multivariate testing—just one of our new Pro features—can help you grow your business.
  • Austin thought Brad was the donut thief, but he was wrong—it was Lain.

Ellipses

Ellipses (…) can be used to indicate that you’re trailing off before the end of a thought. Use them sparingly. Don’t use them for emphasis or drama, and don’t use them in titles or headers.

  • “Where did all those donuts go?” Christy asked. Lain said, “I don’t know…”

Ellipses, in brackets, can also be used to show that you’re omitting words in a quote.

  • “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Periods

Periods go inside quotation marks. They go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.

  • Christy said, “I ate a donut.”
  • I ate a donut (and I ate a bagel, too).
  • I ate a donut and a bagel. (The donut was Sam’s.)

Question marks

Question marks go inside quotation marks if they’re part of the quote. Like periods, they go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.

Exclamation points

Use exclamation points sparingly, and never more than one at a time. They’re like high-fives: A well-timed one is great, but too many can be annoying.

Exclamation points go inside quotation marks. Like periods and question marks, they go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.

Never use exclamation points in failure messages or alerts. When in doubt, avoid!

Quotation marks

Use quotes to refer to words and letters, titles of short works (like articles and poems), and direct quotations.

Periods and commas go within quotation marks. Question marks within quotes follow logic—if the question mark is part of the quotation, it goes within. If you’re asking a question that ends with a quote, it goes outside the quote.

Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.

  • Who was it that said, “A fool and his donut are easily parted”?
  • Brad said, “A wise man once told me, ‘A fool and his donut are easily parted.’”

Semicolons

Go easy on semicolons. They usually support long, complicated sentences that could easily be simplified. Try an em dash (—) instead, or simply start a new sentence.

Ampersands

Don’t use ampersands unless one is part of a company or brand name.

  • Ben and Dan
  • Ben & Jerry’s

People, Places, and Things

File extensions

When referring generally to a file extension type, use all uppercase without a period. Add a lowercase s to make plural.

  • GIF
  • PDF
  • HTML
  • JPGs

When referring to a specific file, the filename should be lowercase:

  • slowclap.gif
  • MCBenefits.pdf
  • ben-twitter-profile.jpg
  • ilovedonuts.html

Pronouns

If your subject’s gender is unknown or irrelevant, use “they,” “them,” and “their” as a singular pronoun. Use “he/him/his” and “she/her/her” pronouns as appropriate. Don’t use “one” as a pronoun.

For more on writing about gender, see Writing about people.

Quotes

When quoting someone in a blog post or other publication, use the present tense.

  • “I love donuts,” says Jamie Smith.

Names and titles

The first time you mention a person in writing, refer to them by their first and last names. On all other mentions, refer to them by their first name.

Capitalize the names of teams, departments, and individual job titles.

Don’t refer to someone as a “ninja,” “rockstar,” or “wizard” unless they literally are one.

Schools

The first time you mention a school, college, or university in a piece of writing, refer to it by its full official name. On all other mentions, use its more common abbreviation.

  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech
  • Georgia State University, GSU

States, cities, and countries

Spell out all city and state names. Don’t abbreviate city names.

Per AP Style, all cities should be accompanied by their state, with the exception of: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington.

On first mention, write out United States. On subsequent mentions, US is fine. The same rule applies to any other country or federation with a common abbreviation (European Union, EU; United Kingdom, UK).

URLs and websites

Capitalize the names of websites and web publications. Don’t italicize.

Avoid spelling out URLs, but when you need to, leave off the http://www.

Writing about other companies

Honor companies’ own names for themselves and their products. Go by what’s used on their official website.

  • iPad
  • YouTube
  • Yahoo!

Refer to a company or product as “it” (not “they”).

Slang and jargon

Write in plain English. If you need to use a technical term, briefly define it so everyone can understand.

Text formatting

Use italics to indicate the title of a long work (like a book, movie, or album) or to emphasize a word.

  • Dunston Checks In
  • Brandon really loves Dunston Checks In.

Use italics when citing an example of an in-app elements, or referencing button and navigation labels in step-by-step instructions:

  • When you’re all done, click Send.
  • The familiar A/B testing variables—Subject line, From name, and Send time—have now been joined by Content, and up to 3 combinations of a single variable can now be tested at once.

Don’t use underline formatting, and don’t use any combination of italic, bold, caps, and underline.

Left-align text, never center or right-aligned.

Leave one space between sentences, never two.

Write positively

Use positive language rather than negative language. One way to detect negative language is to look for words like “can’t,” “don’t,” etc.

  • Yes: To get a donut, stand in line.
  • No: You can’t get a donut if you don’t stand in line.
  • Yes: The event was made possible through the generosity of sponsors.
  • No: The event couldn’t have been possible without the generosity of sponsors.

Accessibility & Technical Guidelines

Cognitive

  • Do not use strobing content.
  • Provide easy-to-use controls and navigation schemes.
  • Employ consistency in labeling and navigation, where possible.
  • Use the clearest, simplest language appropriate to the content.
  • Provide control over all time-based media (i.e., slideshows).

Visual

  • Use well-structured and semantic HTML.
  • Use meaningful ALT attributes on images.
  • Do not use tables for layout purposes.
  • Properly linearize content, especially forms.
  • Provide sufficient contrast between foreground and background elements.
  • Avoid using pop-up windows.
  • Label all form elements.
  • Do not use Flash™ for navigation and avoid using it in other places, where possible.
  • Provide access keys and “skip to content” links.
  • Use WAI-ARIA landmarks where possible.
  • Position hidden content off-screen instead of using “display:none.”
  • Provide additional guidance and controls using off-screen content (i.e. descriptions of the page layout and available access keys).
  • Provide transcripts of audio content where applicable.
  • Do not using strobing content.
  • Provide easy-to-use controls and navigation schemes.
  • Employ consistency in labeling and navigation, where possible.
  • Use the clearest, simplest language appropriate to the content.
  • Provide control over all time-based media (i.e., slideshows).