UX Booth Style Guide

July 3rd, 2010
Published on
July 3rd, 2010

Our style guide covers the basics of what we look for while editing articles. It’s far from comprehensive. Please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for further details (as that’s where we get most of our style ideas).

House Style

  • Titles: Use initial capitalization. For instance: “How to Design for the User.” Note that “to,” “for,” and “the” are lowercase.
  • Subtitles/Section Headers: Style subtitles and headers as if they were normal sentences (sentence case). For instance: “Considering your audience.”
  • Images: See posting template for image sizes.
  • Author bio: Include a 2-3-sentence bio with a link or two (your website or Twitter, for instance). Photo size requirements can be found in the posting template.

Punctuation/Grammar—Important notes

  • Dashes: Em-dashes (denoted in your markup as —) place a pregnant emphasis on whatever follows them. Use them sparingly. En-dashes should primarily be used within a date-range.
  • Hyphens: They should not be used after an –ly word. For instance, while “high-class” SHOULD be hyphenated, “highly regarded” should NOT be.
  • Semi-colons: These are used to connect two closely related independent clauses. In other words, semi-colons join complete sentences together. Semi-colons can also be used to separate complex items in a list.
  • List punctuation: If a list has complete sentences, make sure to use sentence case and proper punctuation. If the list contains fragments (or single words), don’t worry about punctuation or capitalization. Just stay consistent.
  • Quotation marks: All punctuation goes INSIDE the quotation mark, whether the marks are being used to quote or to emphasize. Remember: period in the quotes.
  • Exclamation points: Avoid these for the most part. Exclamation points can be invasive and distracting when overused in articles. Sentences can pop without an exclamation point.
  • Their, there, and they’re: Their = denoting possession (their car); there = denoting a place or existence (there is another way); and they’re = they + are (they’re not here).
  • To, too, and two: To = in a direction (going to bed); too = also (I’m tired too); and two = 2 (It’s two in the morning).

Tips for better articles

  • Point-of-view: Write in either the first-person or the third-person. Also – Unless they’re well substantiated – please make sure your post isn’t overly opinionated. We would rather not be your soapbox.
  • Conviction: Have a clear thesis as well as a strong understanding of why what you have to say is valuable.
  • Authority: Avoid using phrases like “I think,” and “In my opinion.” They suggest a weak stance in the argument.
  • Cliches suck: Some cliches are inevitable and unavoidable. Be aware of cliches in your writing, and edit them down as much as possible. Obnoxious cliches include: anything “101,” “outside the box” statements, calling anything a “labor of love,” “calm before the storm,” “this day and age,” etc. Don’t overuse any of these.
  • How to get started:If possible, enumerate the ways readers can incorporate your advice into their practice.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t go thesaurus-crazy. Using unnecessary, big words not only alienates a lot of readers, but also puts you at risk for using them incorrectly. Write simply and write effectively.
  • Avoid heavy jargon: Articles at UX Booth are rated G—intended for a general audience, that is. If you need to use an obscure jargon term, define it for the readers.
  • Flow: This elusive idea can be explained rather simply: vary your sentence structure and keep readers interested through cadence. In other words, avoid writing subject-verb, subject-verb, subject-verb articles: My cat ate my radio. It now plays classical music after 11. I can’t sleep anymore. See? That’s boring to read (even though the cat is cool).
  • Audience: As a contributor to UX Booth, you are writing for a community of beginning-to-intermediate interaction designers, information architects, content strategists, and user researchers.
  • Active voice: Avoid passive voice. For example, instead of saying: “The couch was being torn apart by an overactive mastiff,” say: “The overactive mastiff tore the coach apart” (poor thing).
  • Metaphors, similes, and imagery: These literary devices can add a wonderful dimension to any article…as long as they’re used appropriately and sparingly. We encourage creatively written articles, but don’t go too crazy. Meaning should be magnified—not obscured—by these devices.