Formatting Blog Posts

Ideas for Formatting Your Blog Posts

This post is to give you ideas for formatting your blog posts.  Remember, Web audiences are very different from audiences of "paper" texts.  Below you'll find tips for making your posts stand out.

Web-Friendly Writing

Blog audiences are impatient.  They want to consume their information as quickly as possible and are turned off by essay-formatted writing and long, uninterrupted chunks of text.  It's important to do the following to attract and hold their attention:
  • Have a catchy but content-specific title
  • Write using short paragraphs, headings and subheadings, and bulleted or numbered lists, where applicable
  • Integrate images (copyright labeled for reuse and properly credited, of course), video, and hyperlinks to outside sources
Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web - Opportun...
Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web - Opportunity, Challenge, Responsibility (Photo credit:Fräulein Schiller)
  • Use headings and subheadings, where applicable
  • Ask questions or invite conversation at the end

Where To Find Media

There are several places you can find media to incorporate into your blog posts.  

Zemanta

Zemanta is an add-on you can download to your browser.  If you download it, it will show you pictures and links to outside sources related to the content of your post right in your Blogger dashboard.  Almost everything it yields is copyright labeled for free use.  It also automatically provides a photo credit to any images you select to use in your post.  It's very convenient.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons allows you to search all over the Web for images and video copyright labeled for reuse.  Images obtained through a CC search require you to save the image to your computer and upload it to your post.  They also require you to provide a photo credit in the caption of the image.  Here's what an image obtained from a CC search might look like in a blog post:

Kate Middleton (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

NOTE: It is very important to recognize that copying and pasting an image from an external website is a HUGE no-no in the blogging world.  It slows down the external site's server and lands you on fellow bloggers' bad lists. Always save the image to your computer and upload to your post.

Personal Images and Video

You are, of course, free to use personal photos and video if you own the copyright to those items.  I caution you NOT to use images and video with identifying personal information (including your face or that of your family/friends without their consent, your house, your car, etc.), as this will be published to the Web, and once something is out there, it is out there forever.  (There's a very real and very important aspect of digital citizenship to consider: Web permanence.)

Crediting Outside Sources

Just like in essay and forum writing, it is important to credit outside sources referenced in your blog posts.  For print sources, use standard MLA in-text and parenthetical citations.  As for a Works Cited, you only need to include one at the end of your post if you reference a print text that the whole class isn't using (such as your history or sociology textbook, for example).

For online sources, an acceptable way to credit the original source in a blog post is to hyperlink back to it in the text of your post.  Embedding a YouTube video, for example, suffices as well because readers can click on the video itself to be taken to the original site.  If, however, you download something from the Internet and upload it to your post (such as an image), you must provide a credit (and link whenever possible) back to the original site (like I did with Kate Middleton up there).
And there you have it.  The only thing left to do in your blog posts is to end with an intriguing exit strategy.  Happy blogging!


(Thank you Mrs. Sauer for allowing me to borrow the above text.) 

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