Web Writing: The Editorial Article

Editorial writing consists of writing and publishing an article that takes a stance on a topic. The position must be supported with documentation, reference material, and quotes.

Editorial writing for the web is based upon the fundamentals of traditional editorial writing, similar to op-eds but slightly different, modified by the needs of the web reading audience.

An op-ed piece is an opinion. It is distinguished from other articles in a magazine and newspaper as they may be well written but they do not represent the rules and guidelines required by journalists and reporters. The writers are typically not reports, nor educated in journalism.

An editorial article may be an opinion piece, but it is one that argues a specific point or perspective. On the web, an editorial article may be written by a reporter, journalist, professional writer, or anyone with a defensible opinion.

This article explores the specifics of editorial articles written and published on the web, specifically on blogs. It covers the basics of a web-based editorial article with tips, techniques, guidelines, and references. It is used by the students at Clark College in the web publishing courses taught by Lorelle VanFossen, and may be used by other educators. Continue reading

Stats: The Analytics of Reading to the Bottom of the Page

Featured

In “How people read online: Why you won’t finish this article” on Slate Magazine, author Farhad Manjoo explores the statistics on whether or not you will read to the bottom of his article.

I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all.

So now there are 100 of you left. Nice round number. But not for long! We’re at the point in the page where you have to scroll to see more. Of the 100 of you who didn’t bounce, five are never going to scroll. Bye!

OK, fine, good riddance. So we’re 95 now. A friendly, intimate crowd, just the people who want to be here. Thanks for reading, folks! I was beginning to worry about your attention span, even your intellig … wait a second, where are you guys going? You’re tweeting a link to this article already? You haven’t even read it yet!

He talked to many expert web analytics researchers and analysts about the statistics associated with reading an article on the web. The numbers are fascinating, and may change how you write your next post.
Continue reading

Tutorial on Creating Footnotes in WordPress

Featured

Footnotes are often requested in my workshops and classes. I’ve published “Creating Footnotes in WordPress” explaining how to do this in WordPress on .

Footnotes have been replaced by links, but there may be times when you wish to link to a footnote in a blog post.

Here is a list of the pros and cons of using footnotes from the article.

Links cover one or more words thus are easier to see and easier to click over a larger area. Footnote links are tiny, hard to see, and hard to click, especially if you have mobility issues.

Footnotes are familiar to academics, scientists, and researchers. If you are publishing such papers or writing for that audience, it would be natural to include traditional footnotes.

There are also times when you may need to cite a source that isn’t online. How would you site a paper or reference that is not online? A footnote serves to cite the source while not interrupting the natural flow of the content with explanations in parentheses.

Three techniques are described in the article.

You may use WordPress Plugins that make adding footnotes to posts easier, or you can create them manually.

The process of adding footnotes manually to WordPress involves using jump or page links with the footnote numbers within the content to “jump” down to the footnote list at the bottom of the post.

I’ve included an example of how to create footnote jump links to take the reader to the footnote list and not a specific item in the list, and how to create a footnote jump link to a specific footnote in the list if there are many footnotes in the article.

Family History Blogging Resources and Tips

Knapp family of Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin, Ed, Lloyd, Melvin, Emma, Glenn, Nora, circa 1924 - Lorelle VanFossen archives.The following information are resources, tips, techniques, and instructions for starting and developing a Family History blog. These resources are for Lorelle’s family history blogging workshops, classes, and presentations. The focus of these resources are on blogging your family history, not about genealogy research, though it is often hard to separate the two.

This resource list will help you learn more about using , the self-hosted version of WordPress, and , the hosted verion of WordPress, as well as how to publish multimedia, gedcom files, and share the stories and tales of your family’s history. It also includes information on privacy and other legal policies as relates to family history research and blogging.

Family History Blogging Articles by Lorelle VanFossen

The following links are to articles I’ve written on family history blogging, including an ongoing series on genealogy blogging.

Resources on Blogging Your Family History

The following are articles and tutorials on how to blogging your family history. Continue reading

How to Add Images in Your Post Content

Round beach rocks in shade - photography by Brent VanFossen.Images, graphics, photographs, drawings, cartoons, badges…our websites are filled with imagery.

This article addresses the techniques used by WordPress for aligning images and image sizing and links in published content. Check your publishing platform for their methods.

Image Terminology in WordPress

There are several terms we need to develop to help you understand how images are used in WordPress. The most important terms describe the images within WordPress based upon how they are used and generated: original image, published image, media file, and attachment image.

The image uploaded to your site is called the original image or image file. When uploaded to WordPress, a minimum of three sizes are automatically created and stored in the wp-content/uploads/ directory on the server. The images are grouped by year then month by default.

The image sizes available for displaying in your content are thumbnail, medium, and full-size. Depending upon the image’s original size, large and x-large may be available. Full-size is the original uploaded image size.

When an image is used on a web page in WordPress, it is typically viewed within the content area of a post or Page. For the sake of this tutorial, we will called this the published image. WordPress makes available the three size options by default.

Image Sizes and Links

WordPress Media Uploader featuring multiple images - screencap by Lorelle VanFossen.

The WordPress Media Uploader redesigned in 2012 now features Attachment Display Settings options. They include setting the alignment of the image, the size of the published image, and the Link To feature. Continue reading

What is a Properly Formed Link?

I talk about properly formed links or proper HTML anchor tags in all of my articles, workshops, and classes. This article serves as a tutorial and reference guide on the proper formation of HTML links.

Links tie the web together, linking one site to another, one web page to another. They are critical to helping us find information and understand what is being written.

In “What You Must Know About Writing on the Web,” I describe a link dump:

Ugly is as ugly does. Don’t clutter up your site with ugly link dumps.

A link dump is when the blogger is lazy and just pastes the link into their post such as http://lorelleteaches.com/2012/10/14/what-you-must-know-about-writing-on-the-web/ instead of the properly formed What You Must Know About Writing on the Web.

Which is easier to read?

A properly formed link makes it not just easier to read the post, it is clean and presents professional looking content. It invites the reader to click.

How to Create a Properly Formed HTML Link

To create a properly formed link, you may use the Visual Editor toolbar button called link or Hypertext Link.
Continue reading

The Open Access Publishing Explained for Scientific Papers

Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen of PHDComics tackle the subject of open access for the publishing of scientific and research papers, helping us better understand how this all works, and publishing when publishing is not limited by professional journals.

How to Add HTML in a WordPress Blog Post

Most WordPress users spend their blogging life in the Visual Editor, the WYSIWYMG editor. Yes, it is the What You See is What You MIGHT Get editor.

While WordPress does what it can to make the Visual Editor emulate what your content will look like once published within your WordPress Theme, it has limits.

One of the limits is that is appears hard to publish HTML in a blog post. It isn’t. You just need to switch to the HTML or Text Editor on the Post/Page Panel.

Before you can publish code on your WordPress blog, there are some things you must know.

  1. WordPress automatically fixes poorly formed code. If you mess up a link or HTML element, WordPress doesn’t recognize it as properly formed code so it will “fix” it for you by replacing < with &lt; or change other code to make it appear as text.
  2. WordPress automatically strips out unwanted or broken code. If you are on , you are not permitted to publish JavaScript, PHP, or other code within your blog posts or elsewhere. But you can publish HTML if you have written it properly in the HTML/Text Editor.
  3. The WordPress Visual Editor expects everything within it to be publishable text or a shortcode, code that displays video and other media or features.
  4. The WordPress HTML/Text Editor expects everything within it to be HTML or something WordPress can use to generate HTML.
  5. WordPress recently changed the name of the HTML editor to Text editor in WordPress.com. This change may be in an upcoming release of WordPress.

There are 66 HTML codes permitted in WordPress posts, Pages, and widgets, codes you can use to make lists, links, blockquotes, images, headings, whatever content you wish to add to your site. Continue reading

Blog Writing: Imagine You’ve Been Blogging for the Past Five Years

Can’t think of anything to blog about?

When choosing your blog topics, realize you could be blogging about this topic for years, coming up with new ideas all the time, sometimes daily.

Two photographs of a cat looking out the window of a house, from Band of Cats site.I recently found Band of Cats, a site by an owner of 4 cats, stuffed with funny cat pictures of their own cats plus any other cats, and cat stories, they can find on the web. The first post was July 27, 2007.

While Band of Cats doesn’t publish daily, though they did through most of 2008, they continue to update their site with cat art, cat pictures of the month, holiday cat pictures and items, cat products, and more. While they publish irregularly now, that’s still a huge commitment to the subject of cats.

Think about your own subject matter and imagine you’ve been blogging about it since July 2007 (or pick another date). What would your blog have covered during the past five years?

Usually, we have to project into the future what topics we would blog about. Why not take this backwards and imagine what you would have blogged about if you had been blogging about something for the past five years.

What You Must Know About Writing on the Web

1975.

While that number might mean different things to you, like your birthday, an anniversary, graduation year, part of a lottery number – to me it represents a quota.

Several years ago, a fan counted up all the articles I wrote every year and came up with an estimate of 1,975 articles published annually across multiple sites.

I was stunned. No, staggered. I now had a number. I didn’t know what to do with it. It freaked me out. That’s 164 articles a month. Thirty-eight articles a week. Five and a half a day. That’s a lot.

Don’t even ask to add up the word count. I couldn’t. Yet, the same person estimated that I wrote 2,370,000 words annually.

It took a long time for me to come to grips with that number. I worried when I became smarter with my time and dropped some of the online columns and magazines to concentrate on more influential sites. What if I couldn’t keep up with the numbers?

After a while I gave up and realized it was just a number. Like a random phone number or birth date. Another number not to worry about. Much.

Along the way to generating all those words every year for many years on end, I learned a few things worth sharing. Continue reading

Web Page Annotation and Markup on Live Web Pages

Teaching web publishing with HTML, CSS, WordPress, etc., and working with clients, I long for the ability to just look at a web page or PDF and draw on it. Point out what works, what doesn’t, editing notes, and somehow share it or preserve it. Or make notes. To scribble a note that says “I need to remember this” or “this is cool!”

Well you can.

HongKait offers “Top Web Annotation and Markup Tools,” a huge list of tools that allow you to annotate – write on – web pages. You can highlight sections, draw on them, doodle, whatever.

You can instantly share or save your annotations.

Think of the possibilities. You are working on a WordPress Theme with a client. They can scribble on the page making notes while you are chatting about it on the page at the same time.

Developing a WordPress Plugin? Imagine running tests with this with this level of collaboration. “What if I over it over here? How does this look to you?”

Layers is a tool that allows you to have a conversation on a web page with annotations and image shows the conversation and graphics.In one example, Layers, the tool allows you to add sticky notes, tweets, maps, videos, and images on web pages. Comments can be public or private. You can invite others to participate in an ongoing discussion of the web page to make it highly collaborative. Oh, this so is going to work out nice for students and clients.

Some of these are online apps, some are downloadable programs, and others are web browser extensions and add-ons. There are tons to choose from.

I’m going to use some of these in future classes to markup homework assignments, labs, etc. And what until my clients see these. Wow!

What is a Website Call to Action?

Call to action button called click me with quote that says go on, you know you want to.What is a “call to action” on a site?

Call to action in web design — and in user experience (UX) in particular — is a term used for elements in a web page that solicit an action from the user. The most popular manifestation of call to action in web interfaces comes in the form of clickable buttons that when clicked, perform an action (e.g. “Buy this now!”) or lead to a web page with additional information (e.g. “Learn more…”) that asks the user to take action.
Call to Action Buttons: Examples and Best Practices by Smashing Magazine

It is literally a visual hint (or shout) that encourages a user to click or take some form of action.

Calls to action are used to:
Continue reading

The Basic Structure of a Blog Post

There are many ways to present a post or article on a web page. This tutorial will cover the basic formatting, styles, and structure.

Every WordPress Theme handles the basic elements in a post different, making the headings stand out in a variety of ways, adding borders around images or not, adding design elements to a blockquote…the list is long. I recommend that you test your own WordPress Theme by writing a test post following the examples in this article, or you may use the Sandbox Post for Testing WordPress Themes. It is a text file with HTML code representative of all the HTML tags found in a blog post.

Formatting the Post in WordPress

Before we begin, I will be making references to the formatting toolbar found on the post and Page Edit Screens. It is blow the post title area and directly above the content textarea where you will write your post.

The WordPress Visual Editor Toolbar featuring the Kitchen Sink Button which expands to feature a second row.

By default, you see only one line of buttons in the Visual Editor. The last button on the row is called the Kitchen Sink. If you click it, a second row will drop down. Continue reading

Tutorial: How to Inspect, Edit, and Save a Web Page

This tutorial from the HTML Fundamentals Class I taught at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, is a guide that will show you how to:

  • View the source code of a web page.
  • How to save a web page to your computer
  • How to view a saved web page on your computer
  • How to open a web page in your text editor
  • How to view the CSS/Stylesheet for a web page
  • How to inspect the HTML and CSS of a web page
  • How to view and edit a web page at the same time

To begin this tutorial, have your web browser and text editor open on your computer. It does not matter which browser or text editor you are using. The process is basically the same.

How to view the source code of a web page

  1. Go to a web page such as the test page for the class, Welcome to Lorelle VanFossen CTEC 122 HTML Fundamentals Class on the Clark Web Server.
  2. Right click on an empty space on the web page and choose View Page Source or View Source.
  3. The resulting popup window (or tab) will show you the underlying HTML structure of the page.
  4. You may save this to your hard drive or go back and save the entire web page to your computer.

Continue reading

Links and the Anchor HTML Tag

This is a tutorial from the HTML Fundamentals Class I taught at Clark College in Summer 2012. It applies to HTML and WordPress.

There are five basic forms of links on a web page.

  1. External Links
  2. Internal Links
  3. Jump Links
  4. Image/Multimedia Links
  5. Email Links

Link Basics

Links are the gateway to the web, the interconnected parts of the web that allows a web user to easily move from document to document.

A link consists of the following HTML tag structure.

<a title="Link to article title." href="http://example.com/article.html">Anchor Text</a>
  1. a: The HTML Anchor tag.
  2. title: It is required by US federal law and international law that all links have a descriptive title property. The value text must describe the destination link in a way that will inform the user of what the destination material is about and help them decide to click through. It should be no more than a few words and written in sentence form, a simple instructional form such as “Link to article on links.” This is read out loud by screen readers.
  3. href: The Hypertext Reference is the destination link. In general, it is typically an absolute link written with the full http: address such as http//example.com/article.html.
  4. Anchor Text: This is the text which the HTML Anchor tag wraps around. It is the visible element of the tag on the web page.

Continue reading