How to Submit Articles to Tellus 1

This is an in-depth description of how to post articles on a WordPress website when you have full editorial permissions. At first, you will only be posting comments, which do not require editorial permission, but we want you to read this article thoroughly.  You won’t understand it all. When you are finished with the course, we will ask you to read it again, and you will discover that you understand everything in this manual, and you will then be ready to become a full-fledged Tellus contributor.

GENERAL RULES

  • Do NOT write stories directly into the Tellus Text Editor (TTE).  Write your stories in a word processor and then copy and paste them into the Tellus Text Editor.
  • Before you copy and paste an article into the Tellus Text Editor, run the spell checker utility to clean up your copy.
  • Do not add any formatting to your copy until after the article is in the Tellus Editor. 
  • No hate speech against any minority group will not be tolerated. You will be warned on the first occasion. On the second occasion, your relationship with Tellus will be terminated.
  • Anyone caught deliberately plagiarizing someone else’s work will be terminated without warning.
  • Check spelling, grammar and punctuation CAREFULLY. (You never get a second chance to make a first impression, etc.)
  • Do not link images to any webpage.

 

WordPress is a constantly changing environment and the theme we use is also under frequent revision. This means that the instructions provided here may no longer be exactly accurate or may not work as described. If you come instances where this manual appears wrong, send an email to the editors so that we can correct the error. We advise that you not print out this page because, since the environment is dynamic, your printed version may be out of date as soon as it is printed. Everything in this manual is searchable, so you can find references easily…we hope.

STEP BY STEP GUIDELINES FOR THE TELLUS WORDPRESS EDITOR

Logging into The WordPress Editor

  • Go to http:/tellusnewsdigest.com (bookmark the page; you will be coming back frequently.)
  • Go to the bottom of the page, where you will find the login box as shown.
  • loginbox
  • Enter the credentials you have been given
  • WordPress editor will open a small black menu bar at the top of your screen.
  • That’s the only change you will see, so don’t blink and miss it.

log in screen

  • Click on Tellus News Digest in the Black Menu bar
  • This will open up a Drop Box.  Select DASHBOARD from the Drop Box.
  • Your screen should now look like this:

dashboard 2

  • Click on POSTS
  • This will open up another Dialogue Box. Select ALL POSTS
  • This opens up the inventory of all posts on the system.
  • It also expands the choices under Post to give you the same choices you saw a moment ago when you clicked on POSTS.
  • If you are starting a new article, click on ADD NEW and a new blank article will open up
  • If you are looking for a specific post, scroll down using the scroll bar on the right side of the screen, or use the search utility to find the title of the article you are working on.

Understanding and Changing Status

statius 2As you go through the process of creating, editing and submitting articles, the article will go through a number of status changes.  It is very important that you understand the progression of the status changes.

  • To make status changes, click on the drop box (1) and select the status you need (see list below)
  • When you have the correct status showing in the drop box, accept the status by clicking  OK (2)
  • Then save the new status by clicking the SAVE button (3).  (This is the step that everyone forgets.)
  • Here are the status options and their meaning:
    • PITCH means that you are submitting an article for consideration.  The pitch should include the working title of the article and an informative first paragraph that describes the content of the article
    • ASSIGNED is the status that the editors will change your pitch to when they have approved the story concept
    • DRAFT is the status that you give the article when you have accepted the assignment.
    • PENDING REVIEW is that status that you give the article when you are ready to submit the article. Essentially, it means the same thing as submitted.  The editors will not touch an article until YOU assign the article to the pending review status
    • PUBLISHED is the status an article is automatically assigned to when it has been approved and posted on the website.

Headlines 

  • We call the title of your article the headline.
  • You should always begin each submission with the headline because, if articles are saved without headlines, it becomes rather difficult to find them again.
  • Headlines must be in headline case. In headline or title case, all words of more than three characters are capitalized, while word that have less than four characters are in lower case UNLESS the word is a name or proper noun, or it is the last word in the sentence, which is always capitalized, regardless of length.
  • Headlines should be between 40 and 55 characters in length. This is because we want the headlines to take up two lines of copy in order to make front page more uniform.
  • The maximum length for a headline is 56 characters (including spaces and punctuation.) The 56 character limit is imposed by the Google web crawler, which only has room for that many characters in the headlines. Enter the headline here (where we are showing Step by Step Instruction in this clip):

headline box

  • When you have entered your headline, make sure that your status is set to PITCH and then click on Save.
  • ( You will know that we have approved your pitch when it changes to ASSIGNED.) You can ignore this step and go directly to draft once you have been approved for this option.
  • Next, COPY THE HEADLINE, and go down to the bottom of the text area (immediately below the word count) to find the WordPress SEO By Yoast.  All In One SEO Pack area.
  • UPDATE 6/6/2015:  We recently switched from the All in One Pack to WordPress SEO by Yoast.  The primary difference between the two is that Yoast is more accurate, but it also limits you to ONE FOCUS KEYWORD rather than a group of key words.  More about this below. 
  • The best way to find this section is to search for Yoast by using your web browser’s search utility.
  • WordPress SEO By Yoast will look like this:
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast 2
  • The SNIPPET PREVIEW  shows you how your article listing will appear in the search engines.
  • Enter the FOCUS KEYWORD in the first block (1).  The Focus Keyword is the single word that best describes the main subject of your story.  The Focus Keyword should also appear in the Story Heading and in the “meta description.”   (The All In One SEO Pack allowed you to insert an unlimited number of key words but it turns out that multiple key words don’t get you more reads because the search engines focus on the first key word in your list and look for multiple insertions of THAT FIRST KEY WORD in your article. )
  • Enter your HEADLINE into the SEO title section (2) of the WordPress SEO section.  The SEO headline does not have to be the same as the headline that appears in the final article, but the editors will change these as needed until you get the hang of it. Simply paste your headline into this box. Note that the system will count characters for you and remember that no one will see any more than the first 60 characters.
  • While you are here, this might be a good time to insert the SEO description for your article. In most cases, the SEO description should be the first sentence of your article, if your first sentence is a well constructed one. If, for some reason, your first sentence does not begin with your focus key word, and does not summarize your article as it should, write a good first sentence into the SEO Description area. You may have to go back to the top of the page if you need to copy the lead sentence, or you could store the lead sentence in a blank email file (that’s what I always do) until it is needed.

Note on the SEO Description: This is the text that the search engines will show in their listings of articles that match the search terms requested by the user, so this is where you have to sell your article to the reader. The SEO Description also tells US what your story is about, because we can see the SEO Description while you are in draft mode.

Enter the Text of Your Article from Your Word Processor

Remember that we are asking you to draft your articles in your own word processor. Not only is that easier for you (let’s face it; the WordPress Tiny MCE text editor isn’t the best word processor out there), but it also establishes your prior copyright and helps to qualify you as an independent contractor rather than an employee.

Preparation for the Transfer

Before pasting your text into a WordPress document, there are a number of steps that will make the whole process easier. These involve using the more robust abilities of more advanced word processors to do things that more difficult to do in WordPress.

1. Do a preliminary spell check

WordPress will force you to do a spell check before you can submit an article, but it is easier and faster if you do a spell check in your word processor before you transfer the text.

2. Remove leading double spaces 

WordPress requires only one space between the period ending the previous sentence and the beginning of the next sentence. Extra spaces will cause strange things to happen to your articles. You can remove extra spaces by using the replace function in your word processor. Simply enter a double space into the search box and a single space in the “replace with” box, select replace all and you are done with this step.

3. Question marks and exclamation points

Question marks and exclamation points do not belong in journalistic writing. Rhetorical questions are not permitted in news and feature writing. We will sometimes let you get away with a couple of them, but we’ve seen paragraphs with six or seven question marks in them. By the same token, exclamation points do not belong in journalistic or feature writing. Using either of these in your writing brands you as an amateur.

4. Check for Run-On Sentences

Here’s a secret technique to help you find run-on sentences. Using the search function, check for each of the following items:

  • Hyphens
  • Semicolons
  • Colons
  • Ellipses (…)

Most people use these four items incorrectly and, in most cases, using them results in run-on sentences. Hyphens as a general rule, should only be used in hyphenated words. Colons and semicolons are almost always used incorrectly where commas and periods should have been used. Ellipses are ONLY used to indicate where you have elided words from quoted text.

  • And: when you have more than two “ands” in a sentence, you probably have a run-on sentence.
  • But: more than one “but” in a sentence almost always results in (a) a poor sentence or (b) a run-on sentence
  • Because: two or more “becauses” in a sentence definitely makes it a run-on sentence
  • Therefore: Hugely misused. Therefore almost always signals a run-on sentence
  • However: ditto therefore
  • Of: This is a special case. Over-use of prepositional phrases is a common problem these days. Here’s an example: “The parents of Mr. Grey” is wordy and stilted. “Mr. Gray’s parents is preferable. Look for prepositional phrases beginning with “of” and replace them whenever possible with the preferred construction.

Once you have cleaned up these instances, save your work in your word processor, and move on to the next step.

Entering the text of your article

  • To enter the text of your article, copy your article from the word processor you used.
  • Switch back to the WordPress page.
  • Immediately below the Headline Box, on the right side of the text area, there is a selector that offers you the choices of Visual or Text:

text button

 

  • SELECT TEXT (This enables you to strip out any HTML left behind by your word processor.)
  • Paste your copied article into the text box.
  • Examine the text for any leftover HTML code and remove said code.
  • SELECT VISUAL
  • SAVE
  • Now you are ready to review your article for form and style.
  • It is a good idea to read the article out loud at this stage. It helps to find errors you might otherwise miss.
  • When you are done with this review, click save again.

Adding Hyperlinks to Your Article

We use hyperlinks to provide links to the sources we have used in the course of writing the article. Remember, whenever you are quoting from a source, give credit where credit is due. Always mention the name of the publication and it is also a good idea to mention the author of the article you are citing.

Articles should have at least three hyperlink references, unless the article is a breaking news story and you are a first responder. Five, is better, eight or more may be excessive.

In the course of writing your article, you should have collected the hyperlinks to the articles you are quoting from and those upon which you are relying for facts. The easiest way to do this is to simply copy the hyperlinks and post them into an email or other text editor.

Now, re-read your article from top to bottom but, this time, make sure that whenever you come across one of the sources you itemized in your article that you insert a hyperlink for that item. Here’s how:

  • Highlight the “anchor text” you wish to link to (the anchor text should be the name of the publication or the author of the article you are quoting from).
  • Click the Hyperlink button on the Menu Bar (the Hyperlink button only lights up when you have highlighted some anchor text.)

hyperlink

  • When you click on the hyperlink tool, you will get a pop-up box like this:

insert link

  • Insert the complete URL of the source document in the UPPER BOX
  • Check to make sure that the text you highlighted appears in the lower box. If it doesn’t, you can re-enter the text but remember that whatever you type into the bottom box will appear in the text of your article.
  • Click the Open in New Window Box and Save the Link.
  • You will have to do this for each link you enter, but the good news is that, while we don’t want to see less than two references, we don’t want more than eight links in an article either. Act accordingly.
  • Save your work after each hyperlink you add.
  • DO NOT INSERT URLs OR ACTUAL HYPERLINK ADDRESSES INTO YOUR TEXT. When citing a publication or website, use the formal name of the website, not the worldwide web address.
  • YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE LINK TO ANY GIVEN RESOURCE IN YOUR ARTICLES. YOU CANNOT LINK TO THE SAME RESOURCE SIX OR SEVEN TIMES. (It’s happened.) NOTE THAT Google will penalize us for doing this.
  • 05/02/15 Because of some out-of-our-control changes, until further notice, you MUST cite the name of the publication and/or the name of the author in your text, and you must hyperlink to that text rather than to a phrase in the content.

Keywords and Tags

Keywords and tags are virtually identical to each other, but each performs a separate function. The web crawlers use the keywords to tell the search engines which articles match a given search. Tags are used by WordPress to make it easier to identify articles that match an internal search.

The easiest way to define a keywords and tags is that they are proper nouns. If you mention a person, place or thing by name in your article, your keyword/tag list should include that name. Another way of thinking about keywords and tags is that they are the things that people search for when they use a web browser.

The best way to figure out your keyword list is to print out your article, take a highlighter and simply highlight the proper nouns, including the names of states, cities, countries, companies, and specialized terms used your article. Another method is to save your article, and click on the preview button next to the save article. This will bring up a copy of the article as it will look on the website. You can then simply copy the keyword terms you want to use and paste them into the KEYWORD AREA .

To insert keywords into your article go back down to the bottom of the page where the All In One SEO Pack hangs out, and find the SEO Keyword area, which looks like this:

keywords

In this box, type or paste in all of the keywords you have gathered up as you wrote the article, separated with commas, without spaces behind the commas. Unless a person is known by only one name, it is preferable to use the full name. After all, there are four Bushes, three Clinton, and two Pauls in the news. (Also, if the person has a very ambiguous name, like Paul, or a name that can be mistaken for simple word, make sure you use the full name.)

The Keyword box will scroll, but it is hard to use once it is filled up, so it is often easier to add additional names at the beginning of the list rather than the end of the list. The order doesn’t matter.

Categories

When you open a new WordPress document, the category is always set to COVER. DO NOT CHANGE THE CATEGORY. We can have only one category in a WordPress article. Search engines only have room for one category per article. If there is more than one category attached to your article, the web crawlers will use the first category (in alphabetical order) which means that your article could end up under the wrong category in the search engines. Internally, we use the categories to allocate articles to the most appropriate sections of our website. Having more than one category attached to your article will force your article to appear in two or more different categories on the front page and that makes all of us look very, very stupid.

NEVER ADD YOUR NAME TO THE CATEGORIES because, if your name comes before the category in alphabetical order, the web crawlers will pick up your name rather than the category and no one searching for articles under that category will ever see your article unless the category they are searching for happens to be your name, which isn’t too likely at this stage of your development.

DO NOT ADD ANY NEW CATEGORIES TO THE CATEGORY LIST: You shouldn’t even be able to add categories to the list but, if you have that ability, don’t use it. It is pointless to add categories because, unless there is a section of the website devoted to that category, no one will ever see that article. (There are also several categories on the list that are no longer associated with sections of the website. We keep them for archival purposes but using them won’t do you any good because your article will never be found.)

Adding Tags

When you have completed your keyword list, save your work, then copy the list and past it into the tags section to the right, directly below the categories section. It looks like this:

tag box

If the Tag Box isn’t showing, just click on the Down Arrow button and it will show up.Paste the key words into the Tags box and please remember to click on the ADD button. Save your work.

Adding Reference Links

A reference link is a link to any article that you want to call attention to. It might have been an article that influenced your thinking, but was not referenced in the story. More often, however, reference links are used to link the article you are working on to other TELLUS articles that you believe are relevant to your topic. or simply your three most recent previous articles. As a general rule, there should be at least three, but no more than six reference links on any given story.

Reference links are very important, because they help you to refer readers to your own articles and relevant articles written by your colleagues at Tellus. By doing this, you keep visitors on the website longer, and the longer we keep visitors engaged, the more viable the site becomes as an advertising vehicle. 

We have automated software installed on the website that automatically pulls other articles from our inventory to refer readers to. Do not rely on that software. As AI goes, it’s a piece of idiot software, too stupid for words, but it also pays us advertising revenue (sometimes) so we keep it on. This makes it even more important that you insert your own reference links. 

The technique for inserting reference links is very simple. At the bottom of your article, drop down two lines and include subhead reading SEE ALSO. Make that all caps and use Headline 3 as the type style.

Drop down one more line, and type or paste the name of the article that you are referencing. Highlight that name, click on the hyperlink button, and insert the URL for the article that you are citing. That’s all there is to it. Reference links should be single spaced, with one reference per line.

Inserting featured images

WARNING: “DO NOT TOUCH” FIELDS 

In addition to being the home of the Featured Image insertion tool, the Themify Custom Panel has a lot of very interesting settings. DON’T TOUCH ANY OF THEM! (They are there for the editors’ use only.) 

The only option you should ever use in this section is the Featured Image option. Do not enter ANYTHING in image width, image height, or any of the other options below the featured image option. Never put anything in the EXTERNAL LINK box or NO ONE will ever see your article because that sends the visitor to the site you specified in the external link. Enough said?

Introduction to Images

Featured images are very important to your success online. Images sell stories by attracting views. Every article must have a featured image. If the article is more than 750 words, it SHOULD also have at least one additional image in the middle of the article.

There are, unfortunately, a lot of rules for creating and using featured images. This can be a little daunting, but don’t be daunted. Experience tells us if you read through this list three times (on different occasions) you will have mastered the rules to the point where you won’t have to think about them consciously.

IMPORTANT: Featured images must be unique. You cannot reuse any FEATURED image that has ever appeared on Tellus. You can reuse images inside your article, but you cannot have more than one featured image attached to the same article. In other words, you cannot use the same picture as the featured image and as an illustration inside the article.

Criteria for Featured Images

  • Featured images must be in a 4:3 ratio, such as 600 pixels wide and 450 pixels tall.
  • The bigger the better. Our theme is very good at compressing large images and not so good at expanding small ones.)
  • Distorted or pixellated images are unacceptable.
  • Images cannot be made larger than the original size but you can reduce the size of the image.
  • Images must reflect the story.
  • Caricature images cannot be used for news stories.
  • No pornography, nude images representing coitus, or frontal nudity except for illustrations of scientific or medical articles. (Like the Justice Potter Stewart, we can’t describe what pornography is, but we know it when we see it.)
  • No images of children under the age of 15 unless the child is well-known, such as a child actor or the offspring of a famous person. Otherwise, identifiable images of children are not permitted.
  • It is preferred that there be no text on the featured image; however, if selecting a featured image with writing, then the text must be centered in the image and legible.
  • If graphs or maps are used in the story, they must be big enough for the reader to see the data.
  • Do NOT use watermarked images. They are almost always for sale or rent, and the owners will come after us. (They already have, as a matter of fact.)
  • Always check Wikipedia Commons first: All the images on Wikipedia are published under a free use license, but you should make sure to attribute the image to the copyright holder. The best way to do that is to insert the copyright notice as the caption on the image.
  • Use Google Images to search the web for appropriate images. (Google just seems to work better.)
  • When you find an image you might want to use, right-click on the image (while in Google Chrome; Firefox doesn’t have this capability) and select “Search Google for This Image.”
  • Google will then tell you how many times that image has appeared on the internet. The bigger that number is, the less risk there is in using that image. Less than 100 is not smart. Less than 200, maybe not. More than 500 is probably a safe bet.

Procedure for inserting featured images

  • Once you have located an image that you want to use as your featured image, download the image to your computer and take note of the location where the download resides
  • Next, go to the “Themify Custom Panel’ which is directly under the text window where your article appears. (You can locate this section faster by using your search utility and searching for Custom Panel.)featured image 2
  • Click on UPLOAD. This will open up a window from which you can choose the image that you want to upload
  • Select the image you want use
  • Click on the image and wait a few seconds until the image loads.
  • When you see the desired image appear next to “Browse Library,” you’re done.
  • IMPORTANT: DO NOT ENTER IMAGE HEIGHT OR IMAGE WIDTH. OUR THEME RESIZES ALMOST ANY IMAGE TO FIT OUR FORMATS AUTOMATICALLY AS LONG AS THEY ARE NOT TOO SMALL. THE SMALLEST IMAGE YOU SHOULD ATTEMPT TO USE IS 450 TALL BY 600 WIDE. IMAGES SMALLER THAN THAT MAY NOT WORK PROPERLY.

The Use of Copyrighted Images

It is virtually impossible to find an image that is not copyrighted. This is because copyright is automatic the moment you save an image from a camera or other device. It is very important that you do not use copyrighted images without permission of the owner. Fortunately, everything on Wikipedia, and everything that has been published under a Creative Commons license, is more or less acceptable, although there are different levels of permission on various Creative Commons licenses.

Your own photographs are perfectly acceptable. If you have the ability to create your own illustrations, we are very much in favor of that approach. Photographs that belong to friends and associates are acceptable, as long as you have permission to use them. Inc. Magazine published an article in 2013 that purportedly listed 29 sites from which free images were available, but don’t trust it. For example, Flickr is not a safe source because many people post images on Flickr that do not belong to them, but you have no way of knowing that until someone file a claim against us. Also, any resource that has the word “free” in its name, is probably not really free at all.

Crediting images

It is important and courteous to credit images even when they have been put into the common domain by Creative Commons, Wikipedia or some other venue. However, it is difficult to add picture credits to the featured image in our systems.

Until further notice, credit for featured images must be inserted at the bottom of your article, above any “See Also” inserts and must be in italics to set them off from the test of the article. Triple space between the last line of your article and the photo credit, then double space before adding any See Also references.

For all other images, you CAN and should enter the photo credit in the space allocated for captions. If you wish to enter a caption for a photograph, you can add the caption after you upload the image. Just click on the image to open the menu bar above the image, and then click on the pencil to enter your caption.

Installing Other Images

  • If you want to install additional images in your article, simply position the cursor where you want the image to appear, then click on the “Add Media” button:

add media

 

  • If the image already exists on the website, click on “Media Library” and select the image you want.
  • If the image exists on your computer, click “Upload Files” followed by “Select Files” (which show up on the middle of the screen) and select the image you want.
  • While it is possible to upload files directly from the internet, we would rather not do that because sometimes images need to be replaced and it will be easier to find the replacement image on your computer than it will be on internet.
  • Click on the INSERT INTO POST button and (on the lower right hand corner of the screen) and you are done.

Inserting Video: Update

The process for inserting video changed recently.

Rules for Video

  • Video clips must not be more than five minutes in length
  • You are responsible for the content of the video, so make sure you watch it from beginning to end to ensure that no inappropriate material is included in the video
  • YouTube videos are self-credited. Other video sources may not be so polite, so make sure there is a credit line for videos.
  • ONLY ONE video clip is allowed per article without editorial permission
  •  We prefer video clips to be inserted at the end of the article

Procedure for Inserting Video Clips

  • Copy the URL from the video source
  • Make certain that your insertion point is between paragraphs, rather than in the middle of one.
  • Insert three lines under the previous paragraph
  • Position your cursor at the location where you want to insert the clip. The insertion point should have one blank line above the insertion point and another blank line below the insertion point
  • Paste the URL into the page at that point
  •  You’re done. Move on.

FINAL STEPS

  • SPELL CHECK: We advised you to do a spell check before pasting your text into WordPress, but the system will do another spell check before it allows you to submit your article. It is a good idea, however, to do a manual spell check in WordPress before you attempt to submit the article.
  • Go to the menu bar and select the spell check icon:

spell check

  • Scroll down through the text to find and correct each of the errors listed (if any) and save again.
  • When you have completed the spell check, go down through this check list and make sure everything else has been done:
    • Featured Image is attached to the article
    • Everything else in the Themify Custom Panel is empty
    • Your name appears in the Author Box
    • The SEO Title, SEO Description, and SEO Keywords are completed
    • (And nothing else in the All In One SEO section has been changed)
    • Headline is between 44 and 60 characters
    • Description is less than 160 characters
    • All key words actually appear in the article
    • Key words have been copied to the tags section
    • You have included at least one item in the See Also section
    • You have credited the featured image at the bottom of your article
    • Spell check has been completed
    • No double spaces have been left behind
    • All singletons (one sentence paragraphs) have been corrected
    • Only one category is selected and that category is always COVER

FINAL FORMATTING ISSUES 

Most of the time, your articles will be correctly formatted by the automated WordPress software but there are some special considerations that are related to the design of our website:

  • Never insert your name or by-line into an article
  • Leave NO spaces above the first line of your text
  • Do not submit articles without primary images
  • Add two lines of blank text at the bottom of each article before you insert the footnotes
  • The first footnote should always be your SEE ALSO section
  • Add your featured image credit line BELOW the SEE ALSO section
  • Add THREE lines of blank text below the featured image credit line.

SUBMITTING YOUR ARTICLE

  • Go to the PUBLISH BOX on the Right Side Bar

Pending box

  • Click on Edit next to Status: Pitch or Status: Draft.
  • In the Drop Box where it says Pitch or Draft, switch to PENDING REVIEW. Then click on OK and THEN CLICK ON SAVE AS PENDING IN THE BOX THAT WILL APPEAR ABOVE WHERE IT SAID DRAFT BEFORE.
  • Note that, if there are still spelling or common grammatical errors in your article, you will be offered another spell check. DO IT. Takes only a couple of minutes. 
  • Click on Save Pending again
  • CLOSE OUT OF THE ARTICLE: THAT’S HOW WE KNOW IT IS READY TO EDIT
  • Send us an email to tell us that you have put an article into pending and you are finally done. (Send emails to Robert, Chuck and Alan.) 

 This might sound like it would take almost forever. It doesn’t. Well, it does the first few times but, after that, it becomes almost second nature. Welcome to the club.