The Duffel Blog Style Guide
- abbreviations and acronyms: if it’s the first reference, spell it out. Further references can be abbreviated.
- ex: The briefing was held in the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) on Aug. 16.
- Always spell out Department of Defense on first reference. DoD can be used if referenced later in the piece.
- civilian titles: use full name and title/job description on first reference. Capitalize title and do not use comma to separate it from the individual’s name.
- ex: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke today in a press conference.
- titles for military personnel: use the proper terminology for referencing people of other services.
- Army: soldier
- Navy: sailor
- Marine Corps: Marine
- Air Force: airman
- Coast Guard: coast guardsman
- ranks: For enlisted personnel on first reference, spell it out completely, then drop the rank completely if referencing back to that person later in the piece. For officers, go with abbreviations on first reference.
- ex: One soldier, Capt. Steven Hendrix, believes this is a major problem among the ranks. Hendrix also believes that this quote will make a great bullet point for his OER.
- ex. Sergeant Major Evan Banks believes his a real problem. Banks also told The Duffel Blog that we need to get our goddamn hands out of our pockets.
- Service Rank Abbreviations:
- Army: http://www.army.mil/symbols/armyranks.html
- Marines: http://www.marines.mil/usmc/Pages/Ranks.aspx
- Navy: http://www.military-quotes.com/ranks/navy-rank-insignia.htm (Note: for enlisted, you’ll want to use their rating as well, CT2 is Cryptologic Technician-Second Class, for example)
- Air Force: http://www.militaryfactory.com/ranks/air_force_ranks.asp
- Coast Guard: http://www.militaryfactory.com/ranks/us-coast-guard-ranks.asp
- Quotations: There are a few different ways for quoting someone. Note that punctuation should always be inside the quotation. They are as follows:
- “I am giving a quote for a story,” said Brian Davis, a former Marine infantryman. “I like turtles.”
- “I am giving a quote for a story,” Brian Davis, a former Marine infantryman, told The Duffel Blog. “I like turtles.”
- “I am giving a quote for a story,” said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. “I like turtles.”
- States and Countries: When referencing the United States in a headline, always use US. In a post, write it as U.S.
- Referencing a state will usually abbreviated using AP formatting. Ex. California becomes Calif. or Connecticut becomes Conn. A full listing of the proper abbreviation for states can be found here under AP abbreviations.
- Spacing: Always use single spacing after sentences. Never double.
- Exclamation points: Use sparingly. Unless a person is actually yelling, DO NOT USE IT!
Other Guidelines For Writing A Good Story:
Half the battle starts with getting people to click the link (which is usually shared on Facebook). That’s why it starts with a clever and catchy headline. Headlines should have every word capitalized, and should give the general idea of the story. If you need to quote an item in the headline, use single quotes (‘ ‘) in lieu of double quotes (” “).
- Good Headlines:
- Pentagon Study Finds Beards Directly Related To Combat Effectiveness
- Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Drone Has PTSD, Refuses To Fly
- Bad Headlines:
- Soldier Gets Court-Martialed
- Spouses To Get Rank
So now that you have a good headline, you need to open the piece strong. The first sentence needs to catch the reader so that they want to continue on. Would you read a piece that started with, “It was a dark night on Camp Pendleton.” No, you wouldn’t. It needs to read like a news story, and the opening line should hint at what is to come: “Officials at Camp Pendleton are saying that a dark night at the base is partly to blame for drunk driving.” Start with a dateline–the location. “ALLCAPS, MA — ” a town name, followed by a state abbreviation, if U.S., or a country, if not. Then add a dash with a space on either side.
Read other stories on the site and in the news to see how other writers do this. The worst thing that you can do is get the reader to click the link, and then bore them at the first sentence.
Use the other posts on the site along with this example story to construct yours:
Shocking Headline That Will Get Someone To Click The Link, TDB Says
LOCATION, TX – It’s not every day that an editor at The Duffel Blog (TDB) reads an entire story without making a change. Most stories need minor edits and others need much more. But TDB recently released a style guide to make sure the posts are top quality.
“It’s basically a way to make sure that we are writing in similar styles,” said Paul Szoldra, the creator of TDB. “We want writers to have their own voice, but also to conform to similar styles of news writing like in this article.”
Some writers have been writing without the use of a “lead-in”, attention-grabbing sentence. Others have forgotten to use quotes from both sides of the story, or have had spelling errors.
The worst, however, are the posts that don’t make people laugh. When this happens, a little kitten dies.
“You’ve got to think of the kittens,” said Ron Gullekson. “Try to put a laugh in wherever you can, but you don’t have to go too far. It doesn’t have to be over the top.”
Gullekson is a part of a growing trend of writers who see very few edits to their articles.
“When I see an article from Ron, Dark Laughter, or G-Had, I usually know that I don’t have to rewrite it, or add in a whole lot more,” said Szoldra. “It definitely saves a lot of time.”
Szoldra also says that it’s a good idea to explain “inside jokes” so that anyone in any military branch can understand any post on the site.
“This is fucking bullshit,” said John Mittle, “I want a damn raise if you’re going to make me actually spell shit properly.”