Guide: How we write.

Updated 08 August 2022.

Copyright: European Union Public License, version 1.2 (EUPL-1.2).

What is this ?

This article will introduce the three primary types of articles we make, standards of how to write them, and suggestions to increase clarity for the online reader.

Why do we need this ?

While Ubinodes is an international marketing network at its core, another primary objective is to inform and stay informed in the worlds of I.T, Business, International Affairs, and almost everything else. In order to accomplish this, we must consistently write and update our articles to ensure nobody is being misled by outdated information. Furthermore, if a steady stream of articles is maintained, the company can save time on repeating information to potential clients and candidates. We also want to keep our articles succinct, many people tend to leave articles within a few seconds if it’s not answering the questions they have, and there are sections below which will help you do just that.

Contents of this article.

  • 01. Logic.
  • 02. Methodology.
  • 02. The Guide.
  • 03. The Review.
  • 04. The Research.
  • 05. Basic layout.
  • 06. Formatting.
  • 06. WordPress.
  • 07. Conclusion.
  • 08. Sources.

01. Logic.

The world of information seeking as we know it has shifted online to computers and smartphones, and Ubinodes will shift its formatting accordingly. This is why we develop all of our articles as though it was being read on a smartphone, and studies show that people tend to scan when reading online.

01.01 Process.

To that end, we’ve developed a process based around these principles:

01.01.01 Scan-Read.

We write knowing that people don’t actually read but scan. Ever came across these text with words completely mixed up, with barely the first and last letter at the right place, or sometimes no letter at the right place at all but “words” of approximately the right length, and yet after a short adaptation you can completely read the full text? That’s what we’re adapting for. So we place plenty of reading clues everywhere in the way we use formatting.

01.01.02 Thumb scrolling.

We make our articles for smartphone readers, where content is consumed from top to bottom and scrolled using a thumb, therefore the delivery of information should naturally flow from top-to-bottom by depth of knowledge, meaning that the further down a reader scrolls, the more “expert” level of information there is. So we don’t layout according to academic teaching (introduction, development, conclusion) but instead according to the detail. That way, a reader can stop reading when (s)he has the level of information sought after.

01.01.03 Publishing fundamentals.

  • If you can cut 10 lines without removing the idea, the lines were unnecessary.
  • Never put question marks in the title, articles are for answering questions.
  • Place a verb in the title to reinforce it.
  • Always choose the thinner of two words.
  • Review the article from your phone before publishing.
  • Keep the same flow throughout the article.
  • Look at already-posted articles on our website to compare formatting.

01.02 Genres.

In order to maximize efficiency of the process defined above, we’ve defined three genres for our articles:

  • Guide,
  • Review,
  • Research.

This allows us to maintain discipline in adhering to the process while we write the content.

01.02.01 Perspectives.

  • The guide is a manual written from the perspective of an operator. Like a technician performing a task.
  • The review is an observation written from the perspective of a user. Like someone using an application, device, company, market, industry, country etc.
  • The research is an investigation written from the perspective of an expert looking under the hood of an application, device, company, market, industry, country etc.

01.02.02 One roof.

The final article itself can be an “all-under-on-roof” article combining a Guide, a Review and a Research. Then there will be three distinctive sections of the same article. But at the time of writing, we’ll have made sure they are easy to scan-read and thumb-scroll on a mobile phone, no matter if it’s the Guide section, the Review one or the Research one. To that end they’ll be written separately and in accordance to their particularities.

02. Methodology.

We apply the same methodology to Guides, Reviews or Researches:

  • Preparation,
  • Creation,
  • Publication.

02.01 Preparation.

  • Before an article can be written, the proper research needs to be done to be knowledgeable enough about the subject to teach others, as well as a testing phase to be able to provide first-hand experience which will resonate with the reader.
  • As a result, you may be able to write in parallel a Review or a Research article. Do not let your experience and knowledge be wasted, somewhere on the internet someone may find it valuable. The key is to follow our guidelines so as to make the information shareable in a consistent and efficient manner on our website.
  • This phase can range from an hour of reading a website to several hours of reading and testing in order to find an optimal way to do something.
  • Sometimes it can be done only as a team to share opinions and workload. Or simply because computer or devices have to be connected together as part of the testing.

02.02 Creation.

  • Ask yourself who your audience will be, which can greatly affect which points to talk about. The wording of everything is based upon your target audience.
  • Create a summary paragraph to go at the beginning of the article in the TL;DR.
  • Take the draft, and make sure each point is roughly the same length. If some can be combined, do so.
  • From the start, follow the guidelines below for layout and formatting. Otherwise you can’t collaborate efficiently with other people.

02.03 Publication.

  • Include all your sources.
  • Read over multiple times to make sure nothing important was missed.
  • Get it proofread by other people so as to have a fresh view of your final work. Do not ask people to proofread too soon so as not to wear them out before the end of your work.
  • By holding each article to a high standard of quality including a peer-review, we ensure that the information is both factual and relevant.

03. The Guide.

The guide is essentially a “how-to” or “step-by-step” or “do-list” on any topic, ranging from instruction manuals about I.T. to the processes of becoming a future client. The key to making a proper guide is being able to teach someone in as simple a manner as possible. Ideally, the guide can be easily understood by anybody, regardless of age, previous tech experience, etc.

The guide could also be for marketing purpose, for example this article that you are reading right now falls in this category.

03.01 Particularities.

  • Because it is a “step-by-step” or “do-list”, it is written for technical “on the field” use. Therefore, all the explaining will be put into Notes at the end of the article. That way, the user, or “operator” in most cases, can complete the task using the guide, and obtain knowledge later on by reading the notes.
  • The screenshots are an integral component of the step-by-step process so they are included along with the action to be performed.
  • Because it is as seen from an operator, opinions can be shared as long as they are constructive for the reader.
  • The writer can share tips and advice to pass on experience and help the reader save time.
  • It is not a review, we do not comment on the features and pros and cons.
  • It is not a research, we do not detail the technicalities of what’s happening under the hood.

03.02 Preparation.

  • Pull from your past experiences and ideas to find a topic, and having a passion for said topic can make the guide easier to write.
  • Avoid working alone on writing a guide. It’s difficult to see all the details that shall be put in a guide to make it easy to use for the end reader. It’s also beneficial to have someone perform the same actions on another device, it helps unveil technical glitches and particularities.
  • In this stage real-time testing commences, the product(s) is used on a real project, among a diverse group of people.
  • The goal is to remove bias where possible, including operating system, different team members, and organization (an ethical hacker tests the product). This period will last a minimum of two weeks, including the testing of similar products to obtain a basis on which to review.
  • You may contact the developer/manufacturer to obtain answers to specific questions.

03.03 Creation.

  • Keep every step no matter how obvious it is, so nothing simple is missed.
  • It’s recommended to take pictures from parts of the process that were challenging during testing, so that the reader won’t have to face the same challenges later.
  • Make sure the tone of the instruction is informative and not condescending.
  • Test your own guide, or have another node test it to make sure it works correctly.

04. The Review.

Someone reading your review should have most of his/her questions answered as if (s)he had installed and used the application or device for a month. The idea of the review is to thoroughly describe:

  • The features. So it should look like a check list of features. It can have a paragraph dedicated to displaying screen shots or photographs.
  • The positives and negatives of an application or website from an unbiased perspective. So it should list the pros leading into cons. Not opinions.

A review can also be for marketing purpose, like reviewing the suppliers of an industry, the shops of an area, the competition to a client etc. In that case it would be an observation from the point of view of a distributor or an end buyer.

04.01 Particularities.

  • Because it is a raw description “as seen from a user”, there are no opinions.
  • If the screenshots are not part of an action but simply give an overview of the application or device, they should be placed in a dedicated paragraph so as not to break the flow of reading. Same for photographs.
  • It is an observation based article. If some information goes deeper, it shall be placed into Notes at the end of the article according to the principle of the thumb scrolling. If you end up with too much notes, then it’s time to move them in a proper research article.
  • It is not a guide, we do not explain how to install or set up the application or device.
  • It is not a research, we do not detail the technicalities of what’s happening under the hood.

04.02 Preparation.

  • Compared to a guide, what sets the review apart is that you must explore outside the immediate subject matter, researching similar applications and websites to have a base from which you can compare.

04.03 Creation.

  • Each product gets a short paragraph review, talking about all of the features included.
  • Use pictures of the product itself and while using it.
  • Add a list of pros and cons for each product, this is helpful for readers who prefer to skim.
  • Understand that we are not affiliated with the product, make sure to give credit where it’s due.

05. The Research.

While the research article is probably the most intensive of the three, it is also the most informative. In contrast to the previous two, it is naturally focused on the preparation stage, which can take a varying amount of time depending on the subject.

If done correctly, the research article should be a “catch-all” article on the subject on which its written.

A research can also be for marketing purpose, like a market research. Then it is written from the point of view of an expert looking behind the scene. Unlike a review, which is an observation, a research would include components about the politics, the regulation, the history etc, so as to explain the inner working of things.

05.01 Particularities.

The particularity is that the thumb scrolling principle is dominant, compared to a guide (step-by-step) or a review (features and pros and cons).

  1. General Knowledge– First tier. Knowledge of the topic alone will suffice, for shorter articles.
  2. Advanced Knowledge– Second tier. The writer should display topical and subject knowledge for a medium-length article.
  3. Expert Knowledge– Third tier. The writer should display total-subject knowledge, this is likely a specialty article.
  4. Notes, Screenshotes, Sources etc.
  • It is not a guide, we do not explain how to install or set up the application or device.
  • It is not a review, we do not comment on the features and pros and cons.

05.02 Preparation.

  • You must research all related topics in order to a have a complete view of the subject. In this case, just knowing the topic isn’t enough, because unlike the review it is not simply observation based.
  • Furthermore, the more you know about a subject, the easier it will be to write candidly about it. For example, if subject-specific terminology is used, you must understand it and be able to explain it in simple terms for the reader.
  • Once again, ask yourself who the reader will be, yet still keep it clear for the uninformed reader.

05.03 Creation.

  • Consolidate all of your information.
  • Draft a well-flowing article.
  • Use pictures to reinforce important points. Decide if they shall go into a dedicated paragraph (i.e screenshots) or be part of the content. This decision is based on preserving the flow of reading.

06. Basic Layout.

For our new and recurring readers, we like to keep the layout constant so that the reader knows where they can expect to find certain information from each article. Here are some of the standards you can find in any of our articles:

Upated – In bold, The date of the last update is always at the top, showing how fresh the article is. Example: Updated 10 June 2021.

Copyright information – To let people know under which conditions they can reproduce, reuse, copy, share, our articles. Example: “Copyright: European Union Public License, version 1.2 (EUPL-1.2).”

Contextualizing questions – When a reader lands onto your page, (s)he’ll have two questions:

1- Is this what I’m looking for?

2- What should I do with it (read it now/later, forward it to someone else, print it etc).

So we start our articles with two contextualizing questions:

  • What is this?
  • Why do we need this?

TL;DR – Short paragraph for on-the-go readers to understand the contents of the article, generally for longer articles. This should summarize the whole article in the fastest reading time.

Contents of the article – List of the paragraphs so that readers can quickly get an idea of the actual content of the article.

Paragraphs – All relevant information in well-flowing, paragraph form, ordered from top-to-bottom. Trim all non-essential information where possible.

Screenshots – For Reviews and Researches, we put screenshots in their own paragraph (Ex. “5. Screenshots”), this way, the reading rhythm of the online reader isn’t broken by picture. Simply put a reference after the sentence for which you want an accompanying screenshot, that way the reader will be able to look at them for reference. For Guides of course, the screenshot being part of the step-by-step manual, the screenshots are within each paragraphs.

Checklists – Format with bullet points as they are easy to read, refer to notes when necessary for further clarification.

Notes – To shorten the paragraphs and make reading faster, we place technical details into notes at the end of the article. We reference properly each note at the end of the sentence in the paragraph, using parentheses; for example (Note 05). For the interested reader, these hold in-depth information not shown in the paragraphs, as we want to get straight to the point. Make sure all are referenced properly so they are easy to find.

Sources – Giving credit to all outside information used as well as links to the origin. In parentheses at the end of the sentence in its paragraph, for example (Source 02).

Punctuation – Put periods at the end of titles, and leave a space between a question mark; to catch attention.

Author’s influence – We don’t influence other peoples’ opinions with our articles, let readers come to their own conclusions with our factual information which we provide.

07. Formatting.

To expand further on the idea of optimizing phone-reading, here are some suggestions to increase clarity and ease-of-reading of your articles, all of which are constant throughout our articles.

  • Article headings are H1, sub-headers are H2, etc.
  • Within headings, titles of small sections should be bolded.
  • For consistency, all headers should be written with two digits: “01, 02, etc.” instead of 1. 2. etc; This avoids to go from 9. to 10. It’s more readable if you go from 09. to 10.
  • Only the first word in headers should have a capital letter unless it is the name of a person, product, or some other specific name.
    • Ex- “01. Punctual meetings” instead of “01. Punctual Meetings”.
  • Header numbers are always followed by a period, and sub-headers only have periods in between numbers.
    • Ex- “01. Table of contents” (Header), and “03.2 Types of technology” (Sub-header).
  • Periods at the end of all headers are for readers to read through easily.
  • Lists can be bulleted or numbered, add periods after each point of information.
  • Pictures, block quotes, and any other add-in should be aligned in the center.
  • Links can be created using WordPress, always make sure to credit outside resources.
  • Links going outside of the Ubinodes website should open in a new tab.
  • Add tags to your article before posting to easily locate it.

08. WordPress.

This section contains some tips specific to WordPress.

  • Featured images are 700×420. You can use Photofiltre for that: http://photofiltre.free.fr/frames_en.htm
  • Once you’ve published an article or made an update, make a post about it so that people can follow the activity on the website: https://ubinodes.org/blog/
  • Once you’ve made a post, make a tweet on Ubinodes’s timeline using your account.
  • Always write an excerpt otherwise by default WP will use the first lines which in our articles are never descriptive.
  • Always use a dedicated featured image. Otherwise by default WP will use the first image of the article which may not be the best one to describe the content of your article on a search engine.

09. Conclusion.

While written works are generally subjective to the creator, standardization can increase clarity of all articles, as a reader will understand the flow on an article-to-article basis. By separating our articles into three formats, we can ensure that all manners of subjects and teachings can be shared. Formatting and writing suggestions are included to make the articles more accessible to the reader, but we keep them general in order to maintain individual creativity.

10. Sources.

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