How To Write An Article – The Essential Manaleak.com Style Guide

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So, you want to write for Manaleak? That’s totally understandable — to be honest, who doesn’t? It’s the best Magic: the Gathering website in the world, and it prides itself in its wide range of authors and interesting article topics. If you’ve ever wondered what that pale blue glow is on the website, it’s the gentle glimmer of community contribution.

What you might not know is that behind every amazing author is an excellent editor, tweaking and reformatting your work to ensure articles come out looking spick and span, and reading like the next Dickens.

The thing is, editors are pretty busy. Fact — the average web editor works 27 hours a day, 9 days a week. As much as we love finding and fixing your mistakes (no, really, we do), we just don’t have the time to clean up every single article to the level it deserves. We’d rather spend our time filling it with pretty pictures, making the structure look all fancy, and scoffing at missing apostrophes in shop signs.

So, where do you come in? We’ve put together some guidance on the kinds of things you could do to make life a little easier for everyone. You never know — you might even find it makes your articles better (not saying they weren’t perfect already, but…).

Please Proofread Your Articles!

Please proofread your articles, then get a fresh pair of eyes on them, then proofread it again. It’s amazing the amount of typos and errors that slip through.

Subject Matter & Word Count

What should I write about?

At Manaleak we will also encourage our content creators to talk about whatever they (you!) are interested in talking about the most. As long as its related to Magic: The Gathering on some level, you can argue your point fully, and you are passionate about it, then we’d love to read it and publish it.

What is the advised word count for an article?

We’d recommend a minimum of 1800 words and something with a bit more meat and up to around 3000 words would be better. Ultimately however, we will always prefer quality over quantity. It is always better to keep it short and sweet than to risk repeating yourself and diluting the quality of your content.

Images

Always try to include your own images where you can as this will often better represent your tone and information. When using images, please:

  • Always save image files using a descriptive file name, 1 to 3 words is good. This will help people find it better both within the editor and on Google.
  • Similarly, please always fill in the “alt text” field for every image you use. Always use some descriptive.
  • Please upload the image directly into mtgUK rather than linking to it.
  • The maximum width of any image is 800 pixels.
  • Please always make sure that the images used are clear and well lit. No blurry and/or dark images should be used.
  • If you want to centralise the image in the article, then select “none” in the alignment option.

Capitalisation

There are LOADS of things that get capitalised in Magic. Try to avoid capitalising whole words though (a bit like I just did).

  • Magic, and Magic: the Gathering.
  • Abbreviations likes PTQ, PT, GP, MTG (don’t go for M:TG or M:tG… it looks funny).
  • Formats, like Standard, Modern and Legacy. Try to avoid using these words in their regular meaning though, as it can get confusing (e.g. “I had a standard red draft deck”). If you really have to use them in a non-format context, don’t capitalise them.
  • All card names and deck names (and don’t forget the tags!)
  • Key words, such as Scry and Dredge.  You don’t need to capitalise whenit’s verbified though… e.g. “scrying” or “dredging”.
  • All the obvious ones, e.g. people names, place names and so on.

Punctuation, Grammar and Layout

Punctuation might sound trivial, but it can make a huge difference to how the article reads.  As Shakespeare once said, The difference between a man and a genius is his ability to punctuate correctly. Actually, I made that up. But you get the point

  • Keep sentences short and snappy. You’re not testing their reading ability, and some of your readers might not be native English speakers. Split up your sentences with commas, and if you have more than two or three commas think about using full stops instead.
  • Similarly, keep paragraphs as short as possible. Two or Three sentences each, no more than 4 or 5 lines.
  • Steer clear of semicolons. You might think it looks fancy and intellectual to use these, but most of the time it’s the opposite. They rarely achieve more than a comma, and they can make you seem a little… unapproachable.
  • Don’t use exclamation marks. Ever. They contribute nothing to your writing other than making it feel childish. If you want to add emphasis or sarcasm, try making something Italic. You never know — it might just work.
  • Try to keep the article, or at the very least paragraphs, in the same tense. It can be confusing if you switch between the past and present mid-sentence, e.g. “I try to Stifle his Stoneforge Mystic and he played Force of Will“.
  • Don’t put an apostrophe in plurals, or in possessive pronouns (editor jargon, sorry) such as its, whose and hers. It doesn’t take long to find and remove them, but every time you add an unnecessary apostrophe God kills a puppy. On your head be it.

Card Tags

Everyone loves a tag. We use a plugin that brings up card images when you hover the mouse over a card name. To use it just…

  • Place the tags (Without spaces) around any card name. E.g. [ c]Takklemaggot[/ c].
  • Place [ d][ /d] tags around a deck (again, without the spaces). It has to be in the format:
  • [ d]4 Bubbling Beebles
    4 Turn to Frog
    …etc[ /d]
    Note, don’t add ‘s’ to the end of multiples, and leave a space between the number and the card name.

Content and Conventions

You have to remember that it won’t just be you and your mates reading this article. The majority of people won’t know you, or your particular ways of saying things.

  • Try to avoid using nicknames or colloquialisms to refer to things, unless you think it’s really necessary and you make it clear what your code word means. E.g. Don’t say “Big Poppa Drifts attacked for two” — I know you mean Mulldrifter, but they might not.
  • Don’t use references to past formats, archetypes or deck names that newer readers might not know. For example, try not to say “my opponent’s draft deck was Jund”, but rather say “my opponent’s draft deck was black-red, with a green splash”.
  • Don’t abbreviate colours to their letter (W, U, B, R, G) unless you have to. If you do, try to define them the first time you use the abbreviation — For example, say “my URW (blue-red-white) deck” the first time you talk about it.
  • When you do use multiple colours, put hyphens between them (as above). This isn’t a hard and fast rule — don’t bother if it looks funny.
  • It’s nice to refer to other people in your test group or roadtrip party as it lets the reader relate, but introduce them beforehand. Don’t start talking about Smithy’s bald patch without saying who Smithy actually is.

Again, Please Proofread Your Articles!

Please proofread your articles, then get a fresh pair of eyes on them, then proofread it again. It’s amazing the amount of typos and errors that slip through.

Golden Rules of Shareable Content:

– Don’t use tricks.
– People don’t like to feel stupid…
– Be yourself.
– Content should reflect your own identity, not anyone else’s…
– Make content you would be proud to share…
– Experiment
– Have a heart – You can be too clever, and focus on IQ instead of EQ
– ask: is this a compelling human story?”

Shareability tips:

– Keep it short.
– Ensure the story has a human aspect.
– Give people the chance to engage.
– And let them react.
– People mustn’t feel awkward sharing it.
– It must feel authentic.
– Images and lists work.
– The headline must be persuasive and direct.

Chances are this page will get updated fairly regularly, so check back if you want to write articles fairly often.

Happy writing!

The Manaleak team

How To Write An Article - The Essential Manaleak.com Style Guide
So, you want to write for Manaleak? That’s totally understandable — to be honest, who doesn’t? It’s the best Magic: the Gathering website in the world, and it prides itself in its wide range of authors and interesting article topics. If you’ve ever wondered what that pale blue glow is on the website, it’s the gentle glimmer of community contribution.

Please let us know what you think below...