M1PR (MediaFirst) Content Style Guide | Marketing Style Guide
The M1PR | Media First Brand
- Refer to the company as “M1PR” with capitals “M_PR.” and the number "1" with (MediaFirst) after.
- Never refer to the company as “M1PR HQ,” “m1pr,” "mediafirst," "media first," or Media First."
- When writing on behalf of the company, use the first-person plural “we.”
- When writing in your personal capacity, use the first-person “I.”
- Be respectful of other businesses by referring to them by their correct names as written on their official websites. Check that Mailchimp changed their spelling, it is no longer MailChimp.
- Use “it” not “they” for singular companies and brands.
Voice and Tone
- Use the active voice.
- A press release is happening today (the day issued) so use the present tense.
- In causal writing, it's okay to use contractions.
- Avoid jargon.
- Use terms the target audience will understand.
- If you don’t know what terms the audience will understand, you don’t know them well enough to write for them.
- Avoid vague words such as “maybe,” “might,” or “some.”
- Aim for grade level 8 or under, knowing that longer words and technical terms will increase the reading grade level and decrease the readability. If the term is the authentic word used by the audience, don't worry about grade level. Most text processing applications offer a readability score.
- Spell out numbers are smaller than 10.
- Omit the word "that" and other needless words. The reference for this is the book by Struck & White named "The Elements of Style."
- Emoji are acceptable in casual writing and social media but use them sparingly.
- Avoid even mild swear words (think: “bullshit”).
Headings and subheadings
Headings (H1) are written in title case unless the heading is a punctuated sentence:
- Customer Service Ticketing System Magic: We Cut Response Time by 50%
Using This Feature
- Pro tip: Use titlecase.com to get this right.
Write subheadings (H2, H3, etc.) in title case:
- What is a Media Relations Program?
Avoid using only an abbreviation, especially for an industry-related term.
- Write “customer support” instead of “CS.”
Write out any acronym parenthetically first, then write the acronym (abbreviation)
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of customer satisfaction.
When using bullet-point lists:
- Use parallel construction.
- If the bullet points are full sentences, add a period after each one.
- If the bullet points are phrases, add a period to the last bullet point only.
Use the serial (or Oxford) comma:
- I thank my parents, Mother Teresa, and the Pope. Readers misinterpret that sentence if you omit a serial comma.
En dash and em dash
Use the en dash (–) and em dash (—) without spaces:
- We’ll be out of town Friday–Sunday.
- We’ve made a lot of changes to our website—all for the better.
Italics and bold
- Use italics to emphasize a word, phrase, or quote.
- Use bold to make something stand out.
Always place periods and commas inside quotation marks:
- The keyword for this article is “style guide.”
In headings and subheadings, use single quotation marks instead of double quotation marks:
- Target keywords such as ‘business strategies’
Avoid semicolons if the two clauses can standalone in a sentence.
- A semicolon usually means you’ve written a lengthy, difficult-to-read sentence.
- Revise, rephrase, or cut.
Images and formatting
No walls of text.
- Remember that most readers will scan your article, not read it word-for-word.
- Break up lengthy blocks of text into one, two, or (at most) three-sentence paragraphs.
- Use one visual element every seven to ten paragraphs (roughly).
- An image, gif, or video
- Bullet lists
- Pull quotes
- Takeaway boxes
Images and graphics
Liberally include images and graphics throughout every post.
Include a relevant caption for all images.
- Tip: Links in captions have high click-through rates. If you can link to a content upgrade or a product page within an image caption, do it.
Sources and referencing
• Add links naturally and in context. Avoid phrases like “click here” or “learn more.”
• Do not refer to competitors or link to their websites without good cause.
Sources and research
Prioritize original research (which only we can get) over sources you found on the internet (which anyone can get and are not unique).
- Internal data
- First-person experiences
- Interviews with customers
- Interviews with subject-matter experts (SME)
Supplement original research with information you find online.
Always link your sources. Never make things up.
Link directly to original content. Never link to an aggregator—especially infographics.
Don’t reference research or data collected more than five years ago.
Age and disability
Don’t reference age or disability unless absolutely relevant.
Use a person’s preferred pronoun or name.
Avoid gendered language.
The singular “they” or “them” is acceptable, though it is better to find an alternative:
• Acceptable: When talking to a customer, ask them for their perspective.
• Better: When talking to customers, ask them for their perspective.
Guidance for Writing About People
We recommend this resource for writing about people.
Conscious Style Guide https://consciousstyleguide.com/
Resources of People Who Can Help with Writing
The Editors of Color Database https://editorsofcolor.com/database/, a free service that connects employers and recruiters with editors, proofreaders, and sensitivity readers of color in the U.S. and Canada.
Database of Diverse Databases https://editorsofcolor.com/diverse-databases/, now with 70 resources featuring under-represented communities!
How to Write a Style Guide