Writing

Write a short (600-800 word) newspaper-style op-ed on an issue, event, or topic related to gender, information, and technology.

BE SURE IT IS A NEWSPAPER-STYLE OP-ED. Please don’t write this as a response to articles.

Put the point/crux of the story in the intro – don’t bury it or back into it

Online readers tend to scan and move quickly through pieces – make sure the lesson or point of your story comes in the first paragraph or two, otherwise you risk confusion or losing a reader’s interest.

Keep paragraphs short and (relatively) self-standing

Long blocks of text don’t translate well on computer screens for various reasons (eye strain, varying screen sizes, etc…). For a reader quickly scanning a piece, short and punchy paragraphs are better. Aim for around four sentences – some paragraphs may be slightly shorter or slightly longer, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Also, try and make sure paragraphs make sense in and of themselves – some context is required, of course, but if a paragraph should communicate at least some small, self-standing idea.

Avoid jargon

Don’t treat your readers like they’re stupid, but also don’t assume that everyone coming to your piece will have the same background or level of knowledge. Jargon and highly technical language is useful in some specific contexts, but can alienate readers when you’re trying to reach a broad audience. If a technical term is important to the piece, be sure to define it briefly for your readers (one or two sentences should be sufficient)

Use that WYSIWYG editor

If you don’t know what it is, learn (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Embed links correctly

Speaking of WYSIWYG editors, use them to help you embed links appropriately (rather than plopping full URLs into your text). For more on style and linking, check out this piece on “the rhetoric of the hyperlink.” (Links to an external site.)

Consult style guides

For general questions about formatting and style, refer to industry standard style guides. These guides can help you with everything from formatting text to properly addressing sources to being respectful when discussing marginalized or minority populations. Two good examples are the AP Stylebook (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or Buzzfeed’s online style guide (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

  • be submitted as a Word (or Word compatible) doc
  • use an accepted citation style (APA, MLA, etc…)
  • be within the required word count
  • use a 12 pt, serif font (Georgia preferred; Times New Roman is okay, too)
  • be double-spaced
  • use 1″ margins
  • include page numbers
  • use single spaces after periods
  • contain identifying information (name, course, assignment name, date) at the top-left of the paper
  • be spell-checked and free of egregious grammatical errors

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