HubPages Style Guide and Helpful Writing Tips
The Official HubPages Style Guide
We have created this online Style Guide as a helpful tool for our Hubbers highlighting the nuances of online writing and best practices on HubPages.com. In this Learning Center entry, we will be covering:
- Basic Online Writing Etiquette
- Appropriate Linking
- Proper use of Capitalization in Titles and Subtitles
- Proper use of Images
- Appropriate use of Product Capsules
- Hub Layout Guidelines
- Spelling and Grammar Guide
- Copyright Information
- Appropriate use of the Text Capsule Format Options
- Bolding and Italics Guidelines
Basic Online Writing Etiquette
In order to compete in today's online world and to pass the HubPages Quality Assessment Process, Hubbers need to write the best piece of content on the web as well as follow these basic tenets:
- Be trustworthy: this means that all of your facts add up and you have presented your material accurately, e.g., included a work cited, shared your qualifications, and included original pictures that demonstrate your expertise.
- Write in a fluid and consistent manner: all text must be intelligently written yet easy to read. Hubs should have grammatically correct, declarative sentences; be written in the present tense; have paragraphs that flow and are properly structured; if possible, be written in the third person (but include some first person anecdotal evidence); and should avoid overly simplified information that can be found elsewhere on the web.
- Create interesting, thoughtful, engaging articles: grab your readers attention and educate them on your topic in a new, meaningful way.
- Write to educate your readers on your topic: create content on subjects that you are an expert; don't create content for search engines, a link, or to sell a product. Hubs that are written for readers have a higher likelihood of meeting our quality standards (plus, it's a much better feeling to intrinsically share with your readers your expertise and knowledge!)
Linking to high-quality webpages is one of the wonderful things about the internet. Unfortunately, linking can also cause problems if not done properly. Here are our recommendations to proper linking on HubPages and other sites where you participate:
- Only link to sites that will be useful to your reader and that are directly related to your Hub.
- Only link to sites that are high quality and reputable.
- We recommend integrating useful links into the content of your Hub in the Text Capsule as anchor text rather than in a large block.
- If you do include a Link Capsule, leave detailed descriptions for each link on why you recommend the link.
- Ask yourself, if this link gave me no personal benefit, would I still link to it.
- Avoid affiliate links other than Amazon.
A Final Note on Linking
Your Hub may lose its Featured status for not following all of the guidelines above.
Why do you link in your Hub?
Proper Use of Capitalization in Titles and Subtitles
Readers will get an idea of whether they can trust or distrust your content in the first few seconds of looking at your page. Proper capitalization in your title and subtitles is an indicator of your Hub's credibility. We recommend using standard title case when formatting your titles and subtitles and using the APA guidelines (or another comparable publication) for guidance. Here are a couple specific guidelines for capitalizing your titles and subtitles:
- Always capitalize the first word of a title or subtitle.
- Capitalize all “major” words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns) in your title, including the second part of hyphenated major words (e.g., High-Quality not High-quality).
- Capitalize all words of four letters or more.
Proper Use of Images
Images are incredibly important in online writing. As with many of the other Style Guide tips, images tell your reader a lot about your credibility as an author. Pixelated or blurry images tell your reader that you are not a professional, where high-quality, original images can tell your reader you are an expert! Here are our guidelines on images:
- Always use high-resolution, high-quality images
- Only use original or legally used and attributed images
- If you don't have an original image, create an infographic
- If your choice is a blurry image or no image, leave it out
Here are a few great sites that offer photos that you can use on HubPages. Be sure to read each image's license for specific licensing information, e.g., non-commercial images cannot be used on HubPages because your Hubs generate revenue.
Google Images: Don't Use Them!
Google images are not legal-use images! Google aggregates images from across the web just like webpages, it doesn't own or have the authority to assign copyright information. Just like we don't like our written work stolen, photographers don't want their images stolen. Be a good net citizen and only use original or legally used photos!
These Cute Puppies on Google Image Search are NOT Legal Use Unless Otherwise Specified
Appropriate Use of Product Capsules
The practice of including products in your Hub can be a bit tricky. If you are interested in meeting our quality guidelines, here are a few tips to help you with the inclusion of products in your Hub:
- If including a product in your Hub will be extremely beneficial to your reader, then go ahead and include it.
- Only include products that are either directly mentioned in your Hub or that are closely related to your content. Try to avoid content that is related but not useful, e.g., if you are writing a fabulous Hub about the best chickens for an urban farm, humorous products about chickens probably aren't useful, but a book about raising chickens or your favorite chicken coop might be.
- Only include one product per product capsule.
- Write custom descriptions for all of your products telling your reader your opinion of the product.
- Select a specific product when using Amazon instead of using the keyword search.
- Less is more in terms of how we are evaluating your Hub for quality, so including one useful product is preferable to 3 or more products.
- Lastly, don't feel like every Hub should have a product. If you are interested in earning from your Hub, it might be in your best interest to not include products.
Hub Layout Guidelines
How you layout your Hub says a lot about your credibility as a writer. HubPages allows a great deal of flexibility on Hub layout, but we have a few guidelines that should help in readability and create a page that is trustworthy and consistent. Plus, we look at these factors when we assess everyone's Hubs for quality. Here are a few guidelines:
- Break your Hub up into multiple Text Capsules with clear subtitles
- Include high-quality original or legally used and attributed photos
- Float interesting facts in a right-justified Text Capsule with a colored background
- If you have used references in your Hub, include them at the bottom in proper work cited format
- Use tables to display content in an easy-to-read format
- Include videos that supplement your content in a useful way
- Avoid adding your own copyright information (see below) or "Protected by Copyscape" images.
- Avoid graphic dividers or borders
- For exemplary layouts, check out our Topic Templates
Photo Dividers or Borders
While image dividers or borders may be a creative addition to your Hub, we recommend not including them. Dividers tend to create an inconsistent design and they may not be compliant with site design changes in the future.
Spelling and Grammar Guide
A Hub's grammar and spelling are paramount in determining a Hub's success. The following guidelines should help ensure that your Hubs are tip-top shape:
- Double and triple check your Hub and, if possible, have a friend proofread it for you.
- If English is your second language, it is incredibly important to have a native English speaker proofread your Hub. Even minor grammar errors can hurt a Hub's chance of success.
- If possible, use Microsoft Word or another text document that automatically checks your work for grammar and spelling errors.
- Use the HubPages spell checker for your last double check. You can check your spelling by clicking the ABC button while editing your Text Capsule.
Click the "ABC" button to check your Text Capsule's spelling
Including Copyright Information in Your Hub
It can be understandably frustrating to discover that your hard work was stolen. Unfortunately, there is no way to completely guarantee the protection of content that is publicly accessible through mediums like the Internet. Often times the culprit isn't even a human being (who may be deterred by a notice) but a web scraper or bot that is programmed to copy entire sites or sections of sites. Thankfully, online plagiarizers have a hard time benefitting from their actions for a few reasons:
- Acquiring traffic is difficult as search engines know when a page was first published
- Sites that are near duplicates of others are eventually taken down
- Recourse exists in the form of DMCA Complaints
From a design standpoint, the numerous styles of copyright notices contribute to an inconsistent experience for HubPages visitors. And because these copyright notices are created using Text Capsules, unneeded complexity is added to the structure and design of each Hub. If you do want to place a notice on some of your Hubs, we've created a standard notice that you can enable on each Hub. To do this, navigate to the Display Options section of the HubTool and turn the copyright notice On. Please also delete any capsules which contain custom notices or "Protected by Copyscape" images.
Don't Place A Copyright Notice Unless the Work is Yours
Only place copyright notices on content that is your own. Certain types of Hubs (e.g., photo galleries containing unoriginal photos, ingredient lists, aggregation lists, etc) are not copyrightable. Placing a fraudulent copyright notice is a criminal offense.
Remember to Register Your Copyright
Appropriate Use of the Text Capsule Format Options
HubPages offers four different formatting options when editing a Text Capsule: paragraph, Heading 2, Heading 3, Heading 4, and preformatted. These options are available in the tool bar of the Text Capsule in a drop down box (next to the numbering and bullet options when in edit mode.) Headers are designed to allow a hierarchy in your Hub's text, e.g., your title is a H1 header, subtitles are H2 headers, and on down. Here are a few Header guidelines:
- Header tags should be used to indicate a new section of your work
- A Hub entirely in one Header is not advised
- Most of your text should be in the Paragraph format
Formatting Options While Editing a Text Capsule
Using Headers on HubPages
By starting a new Text Capsule, HubPages will automatically use a Heading 2 format as your subtitle. In most cases, you won't need to use the formatting options if you break your Hub up into multiple Text Capsules.
Bolding and Italics Guidelines
Bolding and italics should be used with care. Here are a few things to think about when formatting your text:
- Text that is excessively stylized can be distracting to readers and runs counter to the goal of providing emphasis.
- If random words and phrases in your Hub are bolded, readers won't be able to identify the critical points.
- Only bold words and phrases that are essential to emphasize.
- Italics should be used for books, computer and video games, movies, and television shows but not to provide emphasis.
- Avoid large blocks of text that are bolded or italicized as they impede readability
While all Hubs don't need to follow these guidelines, Hubs that do adhere to these principles are more likely to pass our Quality Assessment Process. To improve your chances of success, Hubs should be well written, unique, valuable, engaging and stand out from the rest of the content on the web. Good luck and happy Hubbing!