While going through this tutorial, keep the “Sample Feature for Cosmos Media Writers” file open.

Headings

First, we write article headings in title case rather than in sentence case.

Second, we expect witty and sharp headings from our writers. Mediocre or passable headings that seem to have come from a 6th grader will not do. Just have a look at this feature heading: http://www.ellemoney.com/featured/problems-faced-working-women-33172.html. Even if the writer had found a better word than ‘problems’, using the literary device called alliteration (kindly Google the term; it’ll benefit you), to go with ‘working women’, that would have helped a little: Top Worries of Working Woman; Working Woman’s Woes; Woman, Work, and Worries; What Worries the Working Woman; etc. If you cannot write headings like ace writers do, you can at least try to beat a 6th grader.

We are trying to better our headlines, so that the readers feel compelled to click on our features and articles. So kindly make sure you get your writers to write catchy headlines and titles for all informal news/articles/features throughout our portals. From the internet source, you can pick ideas on the kind of headlines and feature titles we are looking for. Of course, we cannot hype the news, but we can still capture the Wow! factor in most informal news/features and some (NOT all) formal and business news/features.

Blurb

With blurb, we tell readers what they can expect to read. In the blurb, we don’t beat about the bushes and come straight to the point directly after the heading. Here are a few ways to write a blurb:

–          Just try to summarise in roughly 15-25 words what you have written in the whole article

–          Or, instead of summarising, you can also mention something interesting from within the feature and leave it for the readers to guess what the focus of the feature is going to be

–          Another way to write a blurb would be to try and sell your article to the readers in 15-25 words; just think how you can do that

–          To get a practical idea, go through the blurbs on the features published on our sites

Lead

This is the first paragraph — or, in some cases, first few paragraphs of the feature — that makes the angle or the focus of the feature known to the readers. It comes directly after the blurb and is the device feature writers use to attract the attention of the reader.

–          Usually just one or two graphs long

–          Different ways it can be written:

  • You can make the reader curious; explain what’s in store for him; ask a question or questions; make an unusual statement; provide surprising or alarming statistics; write a quotation, adage or proverb; or state an unusual opinion

Sub-headings

You have to provide sub-headings within the body of the feature; we do not accept a feature without them.

–          Make sub-headings bold this way: <strong>Text to be made bold</strong>

Within the body of the feature, we try to write at least 30 words under a sub-heading. This is to give the feature more body as well as for the sub-headed part to justify having a sub-heading.

–          Sub-headings having hardly any matter in them or those having just a one liner are not acceptable (like the one below).

  • <strong>7. Take a Small Nap</strong> Studies reveal that a small nap during the day helps our mind and body recover from energy loss.

Box

The information in the box is not really central to the feature but is still germane to the topic, in that it throws a sidelight on the issue, or provides something extra to the readers they will appreciate. To get ideas for the box material, kindly go through published features on our sites.

Photo

Then, you need to provide an appropriate photo (dimensions – 250 by 250) to go with the article.

–          Ideal size for image is 250×250 (Need not be square, but landscape format goes well with our layout).

–          You may use images.google.com to search for relevant images. You will have to buy the copyrighted photos from their original sources before using them in your articles. To cut the photo to right size, please use software like the one at http://www.irfanview.com. Options to add canvas (border) and resizing the image is available in edit menu in irfanview.

–          Make sure you do not use any copyrighted images. Check for watermark and copyright inscriptions (at the bottom of the photo, in small letters); these two are the marks of a copyrighted photo.

The choice and the modification of photos are also important. The photos have to be of maximum 250 pixels and as square as possible. You can choose a rectangular photo (maximum dimension being 250 pixels again), but make sure that it is landscape (horizontally rectangular) and NOT portrait (vertically rectangular). Plus, grainy, unclear, or irrelevant photos will not be accepted. Rather than the editorial staff setting the flawed photos right, it’s the writers’ responsibility to provide appropriate photos.

Then, we don’t accept photos that have been modified in any way. You can resize the photos though; changing the size is not modification (it’s at least not visible modification). What we mean by modification is any graphics work performed on the photo, like joining two photos, using graphics, superimposing words, and stuff like that.

Also, we need to name the photos (don’t confuse ‘name or title’ of the photo with ‘caption’, which is something else) we choose for our news and features appropriately. If you cannot think of a name, then choose the headline/heading of the news or feature itself as the title of the photo. The photos’ labels are apparent to the readers and it will be a mistake to think that the readers are not able to see what we have named the picture. Pointing the mouse on the photo provides them the name. So kindly be careful.

Caption

You need to provide captions too with the photos. There is a slot within the TJ “Create Content” (TJ is the contraction for The Journeyer) page where you can write/paste caption text. Try to describe what’s happening in the photo. Or link the photo with some interesting fact within the news or article. With people in the photo, you need to identify the chief characters within the photo. Provide in parentheses how the names are identified in the photo, like this: (from left). There’s a full-stop at the end of Cosmos Media captions.

Conclusion

Make sure that you provide a little conclusion at the end of every article. Without a concluding remark, the end seems to be too abrupt. You can also sum up the article or feature with a fitting quote, the one that reinforces the whole theme of the feature in a nutshell.

Authenticate Arguments and Ideas with Research

Statements in any publication have to be backed by research, data, facts, and further information to acquire credibility. We would like you to not only cross-check facts and figures (that they are authentic and are coming from reputed sources) you may furnish in the article, but also make sure that every premise and argument you bring up is backed by logical reasoning and ample knowledge to expand on the argument.

Condensed Information

Contain all the researched information within 300-400 words. We need condensed information rather than verbose prose. So from your research through good sources, kindly choose the most enlightening information bits, the most informative nuggets, if you will, the kind that spark an epiphany in the reader. You can discard the less informative stuff, as we are trying to provide the maximum value to the readers in a ‘tablet article’, so to speak.

Also, to further cut down the number of words, check verbiage, repetition, or wordiness in your writing style.

Check Repetition

Don’t repeat the same bit of information in the article. It shows very badly on the writer. Repetition only reduces the limited number of words we have.

Here’s a fitting example of repetition, with the repetitive facts in blue:

The NIH has named a total of 36 institutions till date that will take part in the study and a few more are expected to be picked in the future. It will recruit study volunteers from various locations. When it is fully operational, 1,000 children will be recruited from 105 counties across the United States. Each funded study center will recruit children from two to three different counties.

The NIH said that the people taking part will be from rural, urban and suburban areas, from all income and educational levels and from all racial groups .It also hopes that the study (to be conducted at 105 locations throughout the United State) can help pinpoint early-life influences that affect later development, with the goal of learning new ways to treat or prevent illness.

…100,000 U.S. children from inception to the age of 21.

And then

When it is fully operational, 1,000 children will be recruited from 105 counties across the United States.

Take this one more example: Nearly everyone is prone to some sneaking disease like influenza. One can find almost everyone who has suffered through them occasionally. No matter how healthy our lifestyle and eating habits are, one can often find the stealthy flu playing havoc with the immune system of almost all individuals.

Every sentence in the para is saying the same thing. The part in italics is just crying to be chopped off.

Check Wordiness

Next, we prefer to use fewer words, and any superfluous words are mercilessly discarded. So try and use as fewer words as possible in your articles and features.

As an example, I take this sentence from one of our write-ups: The basic idea behind this is to ship all samples from…

This could be reduced to ‘The idea is to ship all samples from.…

Or this sentence: Ministry of Health stated that if a situation arises where there is a large scale spreading of the virus…

This could just be: Ministry of Health stated that in case of large scale spreading of the virus

Notice how the graph below has been cut to size.

Draft: If you are among those, who believe that smoking just one cigarette would not hurt your health in any way, and then it’s high time you change your perception. Because as per the researchers of a new study, 15-30 minutes is all it takes before that one cigarette you had puffed starts causing genetic damage in your body, leaving you one step closer to cancer. (65 words)

Edited: Smoking just one cigarette would not hurt your health, you believe? It’s time you changed your belief. According to a new study, 15-30 minutes of smoking is all it takes to cause genetic damage in your body, leaving you one step closer to cancer. (44 words)

Keep Portals’ Target Audience in Mind

Also, kindly keep in mind that we write for the U.S. audience (in case of The Journeyer), and whatever research you do and whatever facts you choose to mention in the article are supposed to be relevant to the U.S. audience predominantly. For Brisvaani, the target audience is Indian. Check with your assigned portal’s editor on the target audience, if you are not sure.

Formatting

You need to format the write-up this way: single line spacing between paragraphs, first word aligned left like the rest of the para, font style ‘Times New Roman’, and font size 12.

Choosing Tags Words and Categories

Provide tag words along with the features submission. For the uninitiated, tag words for, say, a feature on breast cancer would be breast cancer treatment, women’s diseases, oncology, breast exams, mammography, MRI, etc. So any word or a phrase you think can be attributed to the news or feature subject needs to be provided in the little box meant for tag words. These tags will help readers find relevant stories within our portals.

Checklist for Your Final Article/Feature

After you have written your article or feature, ask yourself these questions:

Have you organised the arguments and ideas in a logical sequence?

  • New information after old information and not the other way round

Does the reading become awkward for the reader?

  • Transition of ideas within sentences and paragraphs has to be smooth

Is the content informative and interesting (or as interesting as it can be) throughout?

  • Find the weak parts and work on them

Have you matched the writing style, tone, and purpose of the write-up?

Have you maintained the consistency of language and tone throughout the document? Has the CW style sheet been adhered to?

Have you checked pretentious language, homonym problems, spelling and punctuation mistakes, vague words and terms, illogical statements and arguments, incorrect possessives, clichés and trite expressions, and other such problems in the write-up?

Have you checked redundancy, wordy phrases, and needless repetitions? Does the write-up contain wordiness?

  • Say more with less words, in a way that every word tells

Have you checked your word usage?

  • Try to eliminate clichés, and use fresh words and phrases instead
  • Try to better your words; see if you can replace weak or unfitting words with the ones that fit better

Any questions on these? Just get in touch with the core team — shoot us a mail, message us on Yahoo Messenger, or just give us a tinkle.

Cosmos Writers Editorial Team