Platform style guide
What is Platform?
Platform is a knowledge sharing facility, online news source and information portal for building sustainability and innovation across Greater Manchester.
Our content mixes the highest quality writing with great visuals. The tone of voice is practical but with a lightness of touch and, except in extremis, jargon-free.
Where the editorial context is permissive, the editorial styling will be less so!
All pieces on Platform will be well written, as short as is practical and punchy, peppered with links to more information and written for as broad an audience as possible.
Who is Platform for?
Platform is aimed primarily at decision makers in business, government and the third sector but will also be designed and written in a form that will bridge the gap between those who 'govern' the city region and more than three million people who live or work here.
When writing for Platform, please consider your reader to be a well-informed, engaged individual who may have a professional interest, or passion for, sustainability.
How to pitch a story
Please have a look at the current stories and postings on Platform to get a feel for the content that we’re seeking to include. Recent postings have included:
- Introductory articles to city strategies, with a PDF of the strategy attached as a download;
- News reports on launches or initiatives with a sustainability theme;
- More in-depth articles about larger-scale projects or programmes;
- Essays from key individuals reflecting their views on sustainability and the city; and
- Academic essays and contributions, sometimes introductory with a PDF attached.
If you have something that you would like to see included on Platform then please email email@example.com with a brief synopsis, after which a brief and deadline will be agreed. Please include the subject of the proposed article in the subject line of your email.
Format and Layout
Your article should:
Be supplied provided as a .txt, .rtf or .doc file, in font sized 12 with no headers, footers or page numbers included.
The only formatting to be included is bold for the title, first intro paragraph and any subheads you use. Please also include any hyperlinks (web addresses) in brackets, alongside the word you would like the link to be connected to.
Copy lengths will be agree beforehand but it is worth noting that existing articles on Platform vary considerably in length and that if it is warranted, longer articles (e.g. 1,000 words or more) will be accepted.
Your contact details should be included on the article or in an accompanying email, and if this is your first submission for Platform please include a short biography and photograph of yourself, using the other contributor profiles as a style guide.
A few rules:
“A scrupulous writer”, said George Orwell, “in every sentence that he writes will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?”
With this in mind, keep the language simple and use plain English, not convoluted, flowery phrases. These makes sentences clumsy, put people off and often obscure the point you’re trying to make.
Keep it short – if one word will do, use one word.
Make sure your paragraphs aren’t too long as well – think 4/5 sentences as the maximum.
Some articles will suit a more informal, conversational style, others will need to adopt a more serious tone – it’s your call. But make sure the copy is engaging and avoid clichés, similes and metaphors unless these are used sparingly for a specific stylistic reason.
Please go easy on bullet points and lists; only use if necessary.
Try and avoid the passive voice. ‘A hit B’ describes the event more concisely than ‘B was hit by A’.
When you express opinions, do not simply make assertions. The aim is not just to tell readers what you think, but to persuade them by using arguments, reasoning and evidence.
Some copy conventions
Abbreviations/Acronyms: Unless it’s universally known, such as the BBC or TUC, then in the first instance, spell out the term in full, with the abbreviation/acronym in brackets, ie the Association of Greater Manchester Authorites (AGMA)
Americanisms: Don’t use them, stick with the British. Computer program is an exception, as are proper nouns – World Trade Center; US Defense Department
Ampersand (&): Only use when it’s part of a proper name e.g. The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC)
Capital letters: Avoid using too many – reserve them for the start of sentences and proper nouns. Job titles should be in lower case, ie leader of the council, managing director, prime minister etc
Compound adjectives: Compound adjectives should be connected with hyphens eg ‘the densely-populated suburb of Manchester’.
Contractions: Contractions such as ‘don’t’,’ isn’t’ or ‘can’t’ can help to convey a friendly and conversational tone of voice, so use them wherever it seems natural
Dates: Day, month, year in that order, with a comma after the month eg 15 May, 2013. Don’t use 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc
Use a forward slash when listing years in reports or titles eg 2006/07. Do not put a space on either side of the forward slash. Do not use an apostrophe for decades, except when using the possessive form eg the station opened in the 1960s, but it is a 1960s’ station
Numbers: In body text, write out numbers from one to nine, and use figures from 10 upwards
Use ‘m’ and ‘bn’ for sums of money and measurable quantities eg £10bn; 1bn litres of water. However, spell out for people and as countable nouns eg three billion users; 10 million tickets.
Do not include a space between the number and the unit eg £20m, £10bn
Use % not per cent or pc.
Quotation marks: Use double quotation marks “-“. If a quote runs on longer than one paragraph, include quotation marks at the beginning of each subsequent paragraph but only at the end of the final paragraph. Place full stops and commas inside quotes when they are complete sentences, otherwise place them outside.
Associated files and downloads
Please submit alongside your article any associated PDFs or downloads which are referred to in the article (for example a new study or report that is being launched).
Please include at the end of your article the current Platform thematic ‘tags’ which would be appropriate for your article (e.g. buildings, energy or society) and if you feel that the scope of your article is not covered in the current themes, indicate any new thematic tags you would like to see considered. When tagging an article please try not to select all the tags, just two or three.
Photography and illustration
We are aiming to make Platform a highly visual and attractive website, notable for the quality of its imagery. If you have imagery available to accompany your story, please submit it alongside your story for consideration but please ensure that you have the rights or permissions required to use the image in question. Please include image descriptions and credits with images (photographer/agency - e.g. developments like this one could soon be part of the city's landscape (Joe Bloggs/JSR).
References and footnotes
If you need to include footnotes or references please follow the style set in this article.
If you have any questions over style, tone of voice or submitting articles to platform please email firstname.lastname@example.org.