Content Style Guide

Last updated: 9 July 2020

Welcome to the CareerAddict Content Style Guide!

We developed this guide to help our writers and editors create clear, consistent and valuable content for our readers.

The Content Style Guide goes beyond general style preferences and covers a wide variety of topics, including structure, accessibility and SEO. For ease of reference, it’s sorted into relevant sections so you can easily find what you’re looking for. (That said, we won’t stop you from reading the entire guide in one sitting if that’s what you want!)

This is a living document and is regularly updated to accommodate changes in conventions, usage, thinking and even branding. We’ll update the date at the top of this page to reflect such changes, while we’ll notify writers and editors via email of any significant revisions.

If you have any questions or if you think something is wrong – or, worse, missing – feel free to email [email protected]

  • Writing principles

    Be original

    Originality is key to a successful article.

    Instead of replicating an idea (or, worse, an entire article) you saw on another blog, think about how you can contribute your opinion to the discussion or add your personal touch.

    Unless absolutely necessary, don’t quote text from other articles (particularly those found on external websites) when it can simply be rewritten in your own words. Remember: readers want to read what you have to say, not what you can recycle.

    Educate and guide readers

    Tell readers what they need to know. At the end of the day, they should come away from your article with the information they need to answer their question or solve their problem.

    That said, don’t just tell them how to do something – show them. Think of yourself as a tour guide for our readers. You’re the expert here, and readers are looking to you to guide them through a specific process.

    Use examples and illustrations to help you communicate your message, and consider sharing a relevant personal anecdote or story to connect with readers.

    Talk to your readers, not about them

    Address readers in the second person, not the third person. For example, we write ‘You should include your contact information in your CV’, not ‘Applicants should include their contact information in their CVs’ or, worse, ‘One should include one’s contact information in one’s CV’.

    Write clearly and concisely

    Say what you want to say in as few words as possible:

    • Keep sentences to a maximum of 25 words long. Shorter sentences are generally easier to read and more impactful than longer ones.
    • Limit paragraphs to 100 words.
    • Use contractions like ‘you’ll’.
    • Delete unnecessary qualifiers like ‘actually’, ‘definitely’, ‘extremely’ and ‘really’. They rarely add value to your writing.
    • Eliminate pleonasms. When a pair of words has roughly the same meaning as each other, get rid of one of them. For example, instead of ‘completely finish’, write ‘finish’.
    • Replace phrases with single words. For example, the word ‘because’ is a great alternative for ‘due to the fact’.

    Likewise, avoid jargon, idioms and expressions where possible. If you must use any legal, technical or other special terms, make sure you clearly define or explain them at first reference, for example: ‘An ATS, or applicant tracking system, is a software program used to receive job applications, filter through CVs and screen applicants’.

    Cut the fluff

    Avoid filler content and advice that beats around the bush.

    Get rid of:

    • Redundant words and phrases (and even entire paragraphs and sections)
    • Unnecessary adverbs
    • Repetitive information
    • Excessive explanations
    • Excessive similes and metaphors

    They only make your article difficult to read.

    Use plain English

    Our audience also consists of low-literacy readers and people who speak English as a second language, so prefer using short, clear sentences and everyday words that everyone can understand. For example, instead of using ‘commence’, use ‘begin’. That said, there’s no need to be condescending and speak to readers like they’re stupid!

  • Voice and tone

    Our voice

    Brands have personality – just like people – and we use our voice to express our personality in the content we publish.

    CareerAddict’s voice is:

    • Professional, but not stuffy
    • Casual, but not aloof
    • Conversational, but not slangy
    • Friendly, but not sappy
    • Bold, but not arrogant
    • Authoritative, but not bossy
    • Instructional, but not too technical
    • Helpful, but not overbearing
    • Inspiring, but not overwrought
    • Honest, but not hurtful
    • Inclusive, but not oversimplified
    • Clever, but not boastful
    • Human, but not self-deprecating

    Our tone

    Unlike our voice, our tone of writing changes depending on the reader's situation and emotional state. For example, if they’ve been unfairly dismissed and they’re looking for information about their rights, you’ll need to adopt a more serious tone. On the other hand, if you’re writing about fun things to do after work, a more light-hearted tone is preferred.

    Similarly, our tone changes depending on the particular target audience. For example, an article aimed at school leavers will generally use a more informal tone, while an article aimed at business owners will use a more expert tone.

    Writing about CareerAddict

    Use the first person when writing about CareerAddict. We say ‘we’, ‘our’, etc. We don’t say ‘it’, ‘its’, etc, as this creates unwanted distance between us and our readers. If you’re offering a personal anecdote, feel free to use ‘I’, ‘my’, etc.

  • Structuring content

    Elements of a blog post

    Every article on CareerAddict should have four key elements:

    1. A title (or headline) that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read the article
    2. A clear introduction that maps out what your article is about and hooks the reader in (typically around the 100-word mark)
    3. The main body which delivers all the main points you want to make – remember to break up your article with headings, bulleted/numbered lists, tables, etc, as appropriate
    4. A conclusion that wraps up your article and includes a CTA indicating what you want the reader to do next (such as read a related article, purchase a service or leave a comment)

    Types of articles

    We generally publish three main types of articles on CareerAddict:

    General lists

    General lists are articles that feature a list of items (usually tips, tools, etc) which don’t need to be presented in a specific order and which can easily be moved from one position to another in the list. A good example of this type of article is ‘10 Essential Tips for Running a Successful Meeting’.

    Top/Best-of lists

    Best-of lists are articles that feature a list of items (usually people, jobs, companies, universities, etc) in a specific order, typically presented in the form of a countdown where the ‘best’ or ‘top’ item is listed last. A good example of this type of article is ‘The 20 Highest-Paying Jobs in the World’.

    Tutorials/How-to guides

    How-to guides are articles that guide readers through a step-by-step process in doing something and are presented in a chronological or otherwise logical order. A good example of this type of article is ‘How to Withdraw a Job Application without Burning Bridges’.

    Templates and models

    Some articles follow a specific template in how content is presented. For example, the main body of our ‘How to Answer’ series of articles is structured into three main sections:

    • Why hiring managers ask this question
    • How to craft your response
    • Example answers

    Always check similar articles before you begin writing, and use the same template for all new articles in a series.

  • Formatting

    Headings and subheadings

    Use sentence case for section headings and subheadings.

    Use H2 tags for section headings, and H3 tags for subheadings under H2 headings and H4 tags for subheadings under H3 headings. Avoid using H5 and H6 tags.

    Never use H1 tags. These are reserved for page titles.

    Don’t skip heading levels. For example, if you have a section that is a sub-section of an H2 heading, use a H3 tag for the heading, not a H4 tag.

    Create headings in sets of two or more.

    Use parallel structure across headings of the same level.

    Don’t add links or bold text in headings.

    Images

    General guidelines

    Feel free to insert images (photos, graphs, screenshots, etc) within the body of your article, but only if they directly relate to what you’re writing about and they help you communicate your message more clearly. Do not add images just for the sake of adding images.

    When adding images to your article, make sure to introduce them in the preceding text or otherwise acknowledge them.

    We do not accept:

    • Images of poor quality (including those that are blurry, grainy or poorly cropped)
    • Watermarked images
    • Images that contain borders or effects
    • Images that contain sexually explicit or suggestive material or nudity, including strategically covered nudity (such as a nude man hiding his penis with his hands)
    • Images that depict violence or illegal activities or substances
    • Images that depict shocking content (ie: images that may shock or scare viewers)
    • Images that contain vulgar or offensive language or gestures

    Alt text

    Always add an alt text description to every image you use.

    Use the alt text description during the image upload process to describe the image as specifically as possible in no more than 125 characters, for example: ‘Two young businessmen shaking hands in a meeting room’.

    If you’re using a graph or chart, include the data in the alt text, for example: ‘Pie chart describing employment trends. Full-time jobs occupy 68%, part-time jobs occupy 23% and self-employment occupies 9%.’

    Attribution

    During the image upload process, you will be prompted to provide a source URL of the image you’re uploading (the URL the image appears on, for example: ‘https://www.careeraddict.com/about’) and a source title (the name of the owner and/or name of the website the image appears on, for example: ‘CareerAddict’).

    Don’t source images to file paths (for example: ‘https://cdn2.careeraddict.com/assets/about-3279c98e690bf302cc80e4d83bd4c1468d4273bfe0f7a5ede29ea2a834777455.jpg’) or to the homepage of a website (for example: ‘https://www.careeraddict.com/’).

    Make sure to attribute images to their correct owners, and only add images which you have express permission to use. We will ask you to supply the appropriate documentation for every licensed or copyrighted image you use.

    Captions

    We generally don’t caption images, unless it will help better explain the image in question. For example, if an image depicts a group of people but it isn’t clear who is who, you could use a caption to identify them.

    Captions should be descriptive but brief, and should only be used to describe what is happening in an image – not to summarise a story or make any guesses.

    Don’t add captions as plain text underneath an image – use the relevant field in the image uploader.

    File formats

    We accept the following file formats only:

    • JPG/JPEG – for photographic images and video stills
    • PNG – for software screenshots, drawings, illustrations and any non-pictorial graphics

    We also accept GIFs, but these should be used sparingly.

    File names

    When saving images to your desktop, avoid giving them generic file names like ‘IMG_3068.jpg’. Instead, opt for more keyword-rich, descriptive names like ‘two-businessmen-shaking-hands.jpg’.

    File size

    Keep image files under 400KB. Larger files can slow page loading times.

    Uploading an image

    To upload an image to your article, click on the line you would like to add your image and then click on the Media Gallery icon in the toolbar. This will prompt the image uploader window.

    In the ‘Upload’ tab, click on the Upload Files button and select the image you would like to upload from your computer. Add an alt text description, and the source URL and title of the relevant image, and click Place Image.

    Do note that images must be at least 400px wide and 400px high, and no wider than 700px. There is no maximum height, though please avoid uploading extremely long images.

    You don’t need to include a featured image in your submission. Our editors will commission a custom-made illustration from our in-house design team to upload to your article during editorial review.

    Links

    General guidelines

    Where relevant and appropriate, add links to older CareerAddict articles as well as other useful content on the internet.

    Always back up any factual, medical, scientific, statistical, etc claims with links to credible and reputable sources, such as news sites, peer-reviewed journals, professional organisations, academic institutions and government publications. Never link to tabloid newspapers, forums and blogs of questionable credibility to source information.

    Where possible, always cite the original source for any information you reference. For example, let’s say you came across an interesting statistic in a news article and would like to reference it in your article. With a little research, you can locate the original survey the statistic was cited from – so why cite the middleman?

    Don’t flood your article with links. Where possible, avoid adding more than two links per paragraph.

    We do not accept:

    • Broken or expired links
    • Duplicated links (links which appear more than once in your article)
    • Links which are irrelevant to what you’re writing about
    • Links which direct to offensive, immoral or illegal material
    • Links that redirect readers to unwanted webpages
    • Links that automatically initiate downloads
    • Affiliate links not officially associated with CareerAddict
    • Links which otherwise violate Google’s AdSense content policies

    Anchor text

    Keep anchor text (the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink) as succinct and concise as possible, but generally try to link more than one word.

    Use noun phrases in anchor text. Avoid hyperlinking verbs. For example, do this: ‘write a resignation letter’ – not this: ‘write a resignation letter’.

    Whatever you do, don’t use generic anchor text like ‘click here’ or ‘read this’. Use descriptive keywords or phrases that reflect the same topic or keywords the destination link is trying to target.

    If linking to a PDF or other file type that is not a webpage, include the file type in brackets within the anchor text, like so: ‘Based on the findings of our The Future of Work study (PDF), one in three people think that machines could take over their jobs.’

    Don’t hyperlink spaces before or after anchor text. Likewise, don't hyperlink articles such as ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ at the start of anchor text, and never hyperlink ending punctuation!

    Sources

    If you’re using a news story, scientific study, government report, etc as the basis of your article, add the relevant link in the ‘Sources’ section at the bottom of the article submission form. You can add as many sources as you wish. If possible, however, try incorporating the link within the content of your article instead.

    Whatever you do, do NOT add a link to a source in the ‘Sources’ section if you’ve already linked to it within your article.

    Lists

    Use a bulleted list (or unordered list) when the order of the list items doesn’t matter, for example:

    • Elizabeth II is the Queen of England.
    • Margrethe II is the Queen of Denmark.
    • Felipe VI is the King of Spain.

    Use a numbered list (or ordered list) when the list items follow a chronological or sequential order, for example:

    1. Do this first.
    2. Then this.
    3. And do this last.

    Only use lists when you have at least three items, and limit lists to one level, for example:

    • This is perfectly fine.
    • So is this.
    • This is also fine.
      • This isn’t, though.
        • Neither is this.
          • Okay, stop.
            • PLEASE.

    Capitalise the first word and use a full stop after every list item that is a complete sentence. Otherwise, format lists like so:

    • cats
    • dogs
    • dinosaurs

    Always precede lists with a full sentence ending with a colon, as illustrated in the examples above.

    Avoid making list items so long that they look like paragraphs. Keep list items under 25 words.

    Paragraphs

    Keep paragraphs short, typically no longer than 5 sentences or 100 words.

    Don’t add line spaces between paragraphs.

    Tables

    Use header rows and columns to label rows and columns, as appropriate.

    Use more rows than columns, and make sure there are at least four rows in a table (including the header row).

    Never merge cells. Consider using more than one table if necessary.

    Introduce tables with a full sentence ending with a colon, like so:

    Year No of employees No of managers
    2016 14 2
    2017 20 3
    2018 19 3
    2019 28 5

    Text formatting

    Use bold text – sparingly – to draw attention to important keywords and when referencing button and navigation labels in step-by-step instructions, for example: ‘click the Submit button’. Don’t use bold in headings.

    Only use italics to emphasise a word or phrase and for titles of long works. Avoid using italics for long sections of text, as this can affect readability.

    Don’t underline text. Underlined text is reserved for links.

    Don’t change the colour of text, except when adding a disclaimer or other note at the bottom of an article. In this case, use dark grey.

    Don’t use uppercase for emphasis. Use italics instead.

    Don’t use any combination of bold, italics, underlining and uppercase.

    Titles

    Use title case for page titles (for example: ‘The Quick Brown Fox Jumps over the Lazy Dog’), and avoid ending punctuation except question marks.

    Use the article’s main keyword or a variation of it within the title.

    Use numbers and interesting adjectives, as appropriate.

    Limit titles to 60 characters long.

    Topics (Tags)

    Select at least two and at most five relevant topics for your article.

    Can’t find the right topic? Email us and we’ll add it to our database.

    Videos

    Only include videos in your article if they are high quality and they are directly relevant to what you’re writing about.

    If several versions of the same video exist, use the original.

    Make sure to introduce, describe or otherwise acknowledge videos in your article. Otherwise, there’s no point in adding them. This is true of images, too.

    Do note that only Vimeo and YouTube videos are currently supported on CareerAddict.

    To add a video to your article, select where you want to add it in the text. Click Insert in the toolbar and then select Media. Copy and paste the video URL into the ‘Source’ field and click Save.

  • Style and mechanics

    Abbreviations and acronyms

    Avoid abbreviating words. For example, we write ‘minimum’, not ‘min’.

    Write out all uncommon acronyms on first mention and then use the acronym on all subsequent mentions. For example, ‘National Résumé Writers’ Association’ and then ‘NRWA’.

    Don’t use full stops in abbreviations or acronyms.

    Active voice

    Use the active voice. Avoid the passive voice.

    For example, we prefer to write ‘Zombies attacked Karen in the kitchen’ rather than ‘Karen was attacked by zombies in the kitchen’.

    Do note that there are exceptions to this rule, such as when you want to emphasise the action over the subject. In this case, the passive voice works better.

    Capitalisation

    Use title case for headlines (page titles) and titles of publications and creative works, for example: ‘The Quick Brown Fox Jumps over the Lazy Dog’.

    Use sentence case for all other text, including section headings and subheadings, for example: ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’.

    DO NOT USE UPPERCASE FOR LARGE AMOUNTS OF TEXT. IT IS HARD TO READ AND DISTRACTING, AND IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING AT PEOPLE!

    Don’t Capitalise random Words in a sentence. It makes us Sad.

    Contact details

    Only provide contact details when absolutely necessary, and only if publicly available.

    Use placeholder details for illustrative purposes, such as when describing how to format contact information on a CV.

    Email addresses

    Use lowercase for email addresses, and make sure to include the ‘mailto:’ attribute, for example: [email protected]

    Don’t punctuate sentences that end with an email address, as shown above.

    Don’t hyperlink placeholder email addresses, for example: ‘[email protected]’.

    Postal addresses

    Format addresses in a single line, separating each part with a comma, for example: ‘10 Downing Street, Westminster, LONDON, SW1A 2AA, England’.

    Omit commas when the address appears on separate lines, for example:

    10 Downing Street
    Westminster
    LONDON
    SW1A 2AA
    England

    Telephone numbers

    Format telephone numbers according to local formatting conventions. Note that some countries use spaces and others use hyphens or full stops between parts of phone numbers – always honour these. Consult the World Telephone Numbering Guide for individual country numbering formats.

    When referencing international numbers, include the country code after a plus sign, for example: +353 1 539 7977.

    Contractions

    Use them freely. They make your writing sound more natural and human.

    However, avoid using uncommon contractions like ‘shan’t’ (‘shall not’), double contractions like ‘he’d’ve’ (‘he would have’) and archaic contractions like ‘‘twas’ (‘it was’).

    Dates and times

    Dates

    Format dates as shown below:

    • Wednesday, 1 January 2020
    • 1 January 2020
    • January 2020

    Don’t use ordinal indicators. We write ‘1 January’, not ‘1st January’.

    Never abbreviate day or month names.

    Decades and centuries

    Format decades as ‘the 1980s’, always without an apostrophe before the S.

    Always capitalise the word ‘century’ when referring to a specific century, for example: ‘the 21st Century’.

    Times

    Use the 12-hour clock to reference specific times, for example: ‘10:15am’, ‘3:30pm’, etc.

    Drop the minutes if referring to a specific time on the hour. For example, we write ‘10am’, not ‘10:00am’.

    Use ‘noon’ or ‘midnight’ instead of ‘12pm’ or ‘12am’.

    Always use a colon, not a full stop, to separate hours from minutes.

    Emoji

    Avoid using emoji at all times. We’re casual but not that casual.

    Foreign words and phrases

    Avoid using foreign words and phrases, unless there is no English alternative.

    If you must use a foreign word, make sure it’s italicised and followed by an explanation or translation, for example: ‘Employers in Germany expect to see a photo in the top right-hand corner of your Lebenslauf (the German version of a CV)’.

    This does not apply to foreign words and phrases which have been integrated into the English language, such as ‘curriculum vitae’ and ‘faux pas’.

    Where possible, avoid using Latin abbreviations such as ‘eg’ (use ‘for example’ instead), ‘etc’ (use ‘and so on’ or ‘and the rest’ instead) and ‘ie’ (use ‘in other words’ instead).

    Money

    Use the pound sterling (£) as the standard currency.

    When using a foreign currency, provide a pound conversion in brackets, for example: ‘It cost $10 (£7.60)’. This rule, of course, doesn’t mean you should put £758,970 in brackets after ‘I feel like a million bucks’!

    Whenever possible, round amounts up or down as appropriate.

    Always use currency symbols, never currency codes, when writing about money. For example, we write ‘£1,000’, not ‘GBP 1,000’.

    Only use ‘US$’ when there is a mixture of dollar currencies.

    Numbers

    Write out numbers below 10.

    If a sentence contains numbers below and above 10, use digits for both.

    In titles, use digits for all numbers.

    Abbreviate large rounded numbers. For example, we write ‘1.5 million’, not ‘1,500,000’.

    Don’t abbreviate thousands to ‘k’, millions to ‘m’, etc, except where space is extremely limited (such as in titles).

    People, places and things

    Countries and cities

    Don’t abbreviate city names. For example, we write ‘Los Angeles’, not ‘LA’.

    When referring to capital cities, make sure you use the right one. Not every capital city is the obvious one. For example, Canberra – not Sydney – is the capital of Australia, while Bern – not Geneva – is the capital of Switzerland. Likewise, Albany – not New York City – is the capital of the state of New York.

    We don’t use the formal names of countries. For example, we write ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘UK’ instead of ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.

    Do note that Great Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales only. It does not include Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland is not a part of the UK.

    File extensions

    Use uppercase when referring generally to a file extension type, for example: ‘PDF’.

    Use lowercase when referring to a specific file, for example: ‘Future-Work-Study.pdf’.

    Job titles

    Only capitalise job titles when referring to a specific person or role, for example: ‘In 2020, Martin Österdahl succeeded Jon Ola Sand as Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest.’

    Organisations

    Call organisations (including companies and government bodies) how they want to be called, and maintain their spelling and styling preferences, for example:

    • eBay
    • JPMorgan Chase
    • US Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • World Health Organization
    • Yahoo!

    People

    Spell people’s names as they do themselves, for example:

    • Barbra Streisand, not Barbara Streisand
    • Céline Dion, not Celine Dion
    • Daniel Day-Lewis, not Daniel Day Lewis
    • Emily Brontë, not Emily Bronte
    • Helena Bonham Carter, not Helena Bonham-Carter

    Always connect initials, without full stops, in names, for example:

    • JK Rowling, not J. K. Rowling or J.K. Rowling
    • JRR Tolkien, not J. R. R. Tolkien or J.R.R. Tolkien
    • OJ Simpson, not O. J. Simpson or O.J. Simpson

    Note that some famous people use non-traditional styling for their stage names, including k.d.lang and P!nk. Honour these accordingly.

    Use placeholder names for illustrative purposes. Our go-to placeholder names are Joe Bloggs, John Smith and Jane Smith. We generally avoid using John or Jane Doe, as they are mostly used for corpses whose identity is unknown.

    Use honorifics (such as ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Dr’, etc) where appropriate and always without a full stop at the end. Don’t use foreign titles such as ‘Herr’, ‘Madame’, etc.

    When referring to people with academic and professional titles such as ‘Dr’ or ‘Professor’, use their title and full name on first mention (for example: ‘Dr Meredith Grey’) and then their title and surname on subsequent mentions (for example: ‘Dr Grey’).

    Schools, colleges and universities

    Use the full official name of a school, college or university upon first reference, for example: ‘King’s College London’. On all subsequent references, use its more common name or abbreviation – in this case: ‘KCL’.

    The words ‘school’, ‘college’ and ‘university’ should only be capitalised when they form part of a name (for example: ‘Warwick School’, ‘Exeter College’, ‘the University of Oxford’, etc).

    When referring to a specific school, college or university without its name, only ‘university’ should be capitalised (for example: ‘the school’, ‘the college’ and ‘the University’).

    Teams and departments

    When referencing specific teams and departments, capitalise their names, for example: ‘CareerAddict’s Editorial team’ or ‘CareerAddict’s Marketing department’.

    Trademarks

    Don’t use trademarked names when referring to a specific object. For example, use ‘tissue’ instead of ‘Kleenex’, or ‘vacuum cleaner’ instead of ‘Hoover’.

    Websites and URLs

    Capitalise the names of websites and web publications, for example:

    • Buzzfeed
    • HuffPost
    • Lonely Planet

    Never italicise website names, even if they’re an extension of a print publication.

    Note that some websites sometimes include ‘.com’, ‘.net’, etc in their official names, such as Booking.com. Likewise, some websites use unusual spelling in their names, such as eBay. Honour these accordingly.

    Never use naked URLs, except for illustrative purposes (such as when describing how to format a website URL on a CV). In this case, remove the ‘https://www.’ part of the address and don’t hyperlink it.

    Percentages

    Use digits for percentages followed by the per cent sign (%).

    Avoid starting sentences with percentages. If you must, write out the number followed by ‘per cent’, for example: ‘Thirty-nine per cent’.

    Profanity

    Keep it clean.

    Only use profanity when directly quoting text or speech, or for illustrative purposes (such as when describing examples of unacceptable language in the workplace).

    Always bleep swear words with an asterisk in place of, usually, the first vowel, for example: ‘son of a b*tch’. Don’t use random characters to bleep swear words, like so: ‘son of a #[email protected]?%’.

    Publications and creative works

    Use italics for long works (such as titles of books, films, newspapers, musical albums, etc), for example: ‘The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is much smaller than what you might think’.

    Don’t capitalise or italicise the word ‘the’ if it begins the name of a newspaper or magazine, for example: ‘There was a story in the Financial Times the other day about the growing unemployment rate’. (There are two exceptions to this rule: The Economist and The Times. Nobody seems to know why.)

    Use single quotation marks for short works (such as titles of songs, articles, book chapters, poems, etc), for example: ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was a Number One single in the UK for Céline Dion.

    Use title case for all publications and creative works, and always maintain their original spelling.

    Punctuation and symbols

    Ampersands

    Use the word ‘and’ instead. Only use ampersands if they’re part of a name, such as ‘AT&T’.

    Apostrophes

    Don’t use apostrophes to form the plural of abbreviations, dates made of numbers or individual letters. For example, we write ‘CVs’, ‘1980s’ and ‘dot your Is and cross your Ts’ – not ‘CV’s’, ‘1980’s’ and ‘dot your I’s and cross your T’s’.

    At symbols

    Only use at symbols for social media handles and in email addresses.

    Brackets

    Use round brackets to provide extra information, explanations, translations, etc, for example: ‘Google (which was founded in 1998) currently employs over 73,000 people’.

    Use square brackets to add corrections, references and other comments, for example: ‘Anna wrote, ‘The new hires signed there [sic] contracts today’.

    Any punctuation inside brackets is independent of the rest of the text, for example: ‘Mrs Pennyfarthing (What? Yes, that was her name!) was my manager at Company ABC’.

    Colons

    Unless a colon introduces a quote, don’t capitalise the first word immediately after it. For example, we write: ‘The plan was simple: to find a new job’.

    Commas

    Don’t use the Oxford comma, unless it helps prevent ambiguity. For example, omitting the comma in ‘Mary left her money to her parents, Mother Teresa, and the pope’ might suggest that Mother Teresa and the pope are Mary’s parents.

    Ellipses

    Avoid ending sentences or paragraphs with ellipses.

    Exclamation marks

    Use exclamation marks sparingly, and never use more than one at a time!!!

    Hyphens and dashes

    Don’t hyphenate adverbs ending in -ly when they precede another modifier. For example, we write ‘She is a highly paid CEO’, not ‘She is a highly-paid CEO’.

    Use the en-dash (–) to indicate a range of numbers, for example: ‘The salary for the post is £40,000–£50,000’. Don’t surround the en-dash with spaces. Do use spaces around an en-dash when linking two parts of a sentence, for example: ‘Michael got the promotion – John helped him get it’.

    Avoid using the em-dash (—) at all times.

    Quotation marks

    Use single quotation marks for short quotations or direct speech and for titles of short works, for example: ‘The meeting has been pushed back to 3:30pm tomorrow,’ Denise announced.

    Only use double quotation marks when quoting text or speech within a quote, for example: Michael said, ‘I have never been to Edinburgh, but I have heard it being described as “the Athens of the North”’.

    We use ‘curly’, not 'straight' quotation marks. Here’s why.

    Semicolons

    Use semicolons sparingly; they can often be replaced with an en-dash or be avoided completely.

    Slashes

    Don’t add spaces before and after slashes, except when a slash represents the start of a new line when quoting verse or a new paragraph when quoting prose, for example: ‘Workin’ 9 to 5 / What a way to make a livin’ / Barely gettin’ by / It’s all takin’ and no givin’’.

    Otherwise, we write: ‘billing/invoicing customers’.

    Avoid writing ‘and/or’. Use one or the other.

    Spaces

    Add just one space between words and sentences.

    Don’t add spaces at the end or beginning of a paragraph.

    Quotes

    Only use direct quotes when there’s no better way to say what’s being said or to discuss why the author/speaker said what they said.

    Limit quotes to a maximum of 10% of your article’s content.

    Don’t take quotes out of context or change the author/speaker’s meaning to support your claims, and always attribute quotes to the right person.

    Use the present tense instead of the past tense when attributing quotes. For example: ‘There’s been nothing but discipline, discipline, discipline all my life,’ says Céline Dion.

    Spelling

    Write in British English, and maintain all relevant grammar and spelling conventions. Only use American/Canadian/etc English when directly quoting someone or something, or when referencing something that uses American/Canadian/etc English spelling in its name or title.

    Avoid using Americanisms. These are slowly creeping into British English (largely thanks to Hollywood and popular TV shows) but they have no place on CareerAddict. For example, we write ‘flat’ (not ‘apartment’), ‘meet’ (not ‘meet with’) and ‘film’ (not ‘movie’).

    Temperatures

    Use Celsius for temperatures, without the degree symbol, for example: ‘8C’, ‘22C’, etc.

    When using centigrade or Fahrenheit, provide a conversion in Celsius in brackets, for example: ‘68F (20C)’.

    Weights and measures

    Use the metric system for all weights and measures.

    Spell out measurements when not using a number, for example: ‘How many kilometres do you travel to get to work each day?’.

    Abbreviate measures when using a number, for example: ‘21cm’, ‘60kg’, ‘10m’, etc. Don’t add a space between the number and the measure.

    When using imperial units, provide a conversion in the metric system in brackets.

    Word list

    Below is a growing list of commonly misspelled, misused or otherwise problematic words and phrases to watch out for when writing for CareerAddict.

    cover letter – not ‘covering letter’

    coworker – not hyphenated

    CV – avoid using ‘curriculum vitae’ unnecessarily

    dos and don’ts – not ‘do’s and don’ts’

    email – not hyphenated

    focused – contains only one S (ie: not ‘focussed’)

    headhunt – not hyphenated

    human resources – always plural (ie: not ‘human resource’)

    internet – not capitalised

    irregardless – not a word; use ‘regardless’

    jobseeker – one word

    Millennial – capitalised

    multitask – not hyphenated

    okay – not ‘OK’, ‘O.K.’ or ‘ok’

    online – not ‘on-line’

    program – when used in a computing context; use ‘programme’ for everything else

    résumé – as in the US equivalent of a CV; always maintain the diacritical marks to avoid confusion with the word ‘resume’ (meaning ‘to continue’ or ‘to assume again’)

    self-employed – hyphenated

    stationary – as in to remain still; use ‘stationery’ when referring to writing materials

    teamwork – one word

    telecommute – not hyphenated

    webpage – one word, not capitalised

    website – one word, not capitalised

    work-life balance – hyphenated (not ‘work/life balance’)

    workday – one word

    workweek – one word

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)

    A large part of what we do at CareerAddict involves incorporating SEO best practices in the content we produce. This helps search engines like Google and Bing understand our content and determine whether it’s relevant to a searcher’s query.

    That said, it’s important to remember that we write for humans first, then search engines.

    Below are some guidelines for writing SEO-driven content.

    Use keywords

    Where relevant, naturally place primary keywords (as provided in the relevant article brief):

    • In the beginning of the title
    • In the introduction, as early as possible
    • At least twice within the body of the article

    When appropriate, use secondary keywords throughout your article. Secondary keywords are words and phrases closely related to primary keywords. For example, ‘CV tips’ and ‘CV mistakes’ are secondary keywords for ‘CV writing’.

    Keep keyword density to a maximum of 3% of your article’s content. Any more than this and you risk keyword stuffing.

    Use formatting to break up content

    Use bulleted and numbered lists, headings and subheadings, tables, and images (where appropriate) to break up content. This avoids writing long sections of paragraph after paragraph, and makes your article easier to read and it keeps readers engaged for longer.

    Write in an inverted pyramid style

    Place the most important information at the top of the article and the least important at the bottom. The same also applies to individual paragraphs.

    Most readers don’t read webpages; they scan them. As such, by applying an inverted pyramid structure to your writing, busy readers can easily learn what they need to know and move on with their lives. When you hide important information throughout your article, though, readers are more likely to leave the page faster.

    Link to other articles

    Where appropriate, link to at least five other CareerAddict articles within your article.

    Make sure that the content of the destination link matches the target audience of your article. For example, if you're writing an article aimed at hiring managers, don't link to an article that is aimed at jobseekers. Readers should be able to navigate to other articles that are relevant to them.

    Add external links

    Try to add at least two external links to credible and reputable sources (such as news sites, peer-reviewed journals, academic institutions and professional organisations) to cite facts, statistics and quotes, where relevant and appropriate. On that note, avoid linking to webpages that cover the exact same topic you’re writing about. Our readers visit CareerAddict for our advice, not to be directed to competing pages for ‘further reading’.

    Note that internal links must outnumber external links. Exceptions include links to Amazon.com product pages, app download pages and recommendations of websites and tools.

    Consult the ‘Links’ section in Formatting for additional linking guidelines.

  • Resources

    Below is a growing list of links and online tools that you may find useful while planning and writing your article.

    Dictionaries and references

    Cambridge Dictionary

    Grammarist

    Thesaurus.com

    Tools

    Cliche Finder

    Grammarly

    Hemingway Editor

    Readable

    SEObook Keyword Density Analyzer

    XE.com

    Other

    Conscious Style Guide

    EU English Style Guide

    Plain English Campaign