Agrilinks Editorial Style Guide
Welcome to Agrilinks!
Agrilinks is Feed the Future’s platform for technical knowledge exchange on agriculture and food security development topics. We welcome content submissions from the food security community and are committed to getting our members’ blog posts and events ready for publishing. This editorial style guide is based on the AP style guide, the U.S. government’s 18F office and plain language guidelines.
All submissions will be reviewed for quality and alignment with the guidelines below. Accepted submissions will be added to Agrilinks’ editorial calendar and published accordingly. Submissions that do not meet Agrilinks’ needs or quality standards will not be published.
We reserve the right to edit the grammar, banner photo and title of your posts. If your content needs to be changed in substantive ways, we will let you know what edits need to be made to make it publishable. Agrilinks will never change the meaning of your submission.
At Agrilinks, we accept both original and cross-posted content. If you are submitting cross-posted content, please indicate where the piece was originally posted along with the authors’ titles and organizations.
What makes an Agrilinks post?
Post length and style
Content must have correct grammar and meet the editorial style guide standards outlined on this page.
Content must be related to food security in the international development context and should provide information that helps agricultural development practitioners do their jobs better. Priority is given to posts authored by USAID staff, Missions, and partners.
Content must be longer than 200 words, long enough to convey why the information in the post is valuable for the community.
Content longer than 2,000 words, such as scientific reports, should not be published as posts but should be linked.
Content must not be offensive.
Content whose sole purpose is self-promotion or advertising products that need to be purchased will not be published.
Use sub-headings to break up content and move the blog along.
All blog posts must be clearly linked to an author along with their title and organization, either in a byline in the blog post or linked via the author’s Agrilinks profile.
For go-to tips on how to write an effective Agrilinks blog post, take a look at these six guidelines on effective blog writing.
Sources – they build credibility!
On Agrilinks, we want to make sure we’re sharing verifiable, trustworthy information.
Please do your best to source statements that are not common knowledge. This includes references to datasets and reports. Refer to MIT’s Academic Integrity Handbook if you have a question about whether a statement should be sourced or not.
Link your statement to the source
Link your statements directly to the source, as opposed to referencing it as a footnote.
Avoid linking to text like click here, here, or learn more. Instead, linked text should be descriptive of the link destination. For example, “Nearly a third of the world’s agricultural land (an estimated 1.4 billion hectares) is used to produce food that is later lost or wasted.”
Many researchers like to include full citations. If you want to include full citations, you can list them at the bottom of the blog. However, please still link your statements to sources.
Use plain language
We want to make sure your post is easy to read so that your message gets heard. The plain language guidelines outline tips for how to make your writing clear and accessible.
We recognize that some writing, like scientific writing, can be hard to simplify. In these cases, we suggest you do your best to explain complicated concepts and terms.
Use short sentences.
Break up text; large chunks of text can overwhelm readers.
Use subheadings; they provide clear narrative structure.
Use the active voice.
When offsetting a phrase with dashes, use the longer em dash (—), with a space on either side of the dash.
For example, “Sustainable human development is intertwined with the health of nature. How we feed people — our global food system — is complex and heavily dependent on our planetary resources.”
Use an “en dash” to convey a range of numbers.
For example, both 10–20 students and 10 to 20 students are acceptable options.
Write a great title and get more views
Good titles catch readers’ eyes and improve the searchability of your blog. If your title doesn’t hit the mark or is too long, the Agrilinks team will edit it before posting it.
Use Chicago Manual of Style’s title case for post headings.
Make titles less than 70 characters.
Include keywords that reference your content. For example, in a blog about peanuts, include the word “peanuts.”
Don’t use technical terms unless you’ve already explained them.
Don’t use acronyms unless they are widely known.
Photos: give credit and a description
All posts on Agrilinks are accompanied by a featured banner photo (or graphic) at the top of the post. Additional photos, graphics, or videos in line with the body text are optional. If you submit a post without a banner photo, the Agrilinks team will add one before publishing.
Provide photo credits for your images. Use the format, Photo Credit: Insert Name.
For example, Photo Credit: Adam Ahmed.
Photo descriptions draw users in and add valuable context. Add a description to your featured image in the title content box along with the photo credit.
Photos must be less than five MB.
Resolution must be at least 72 PPI.
Photos must be at least 600x230 pixels and at most 2000x1500 pixels, or be able to be cropped to these size ranges.
Photos must be either png, gif, jpg, or jpeg.
Photo file names
Did you know that what you name your photo impacts how many people see your blog? Saving your photo with an appropriate file name can help improve the searchability of your blog.
Use words that describe the photo, for example, Eggplant-Pest.PNG.
Don’t use a random string of numbers or letters.
Put hyphens between each word.
Keep your image title under 30 characters.
Alt tags are critical for accessibility. They are used by screen readers, which are important for people who are visually impaired, search engines, and when the image cannot be loaded.
Provide a 1-2 sentence description of what is shown in the image.
Be sure to include any text in an image in the alt text.
Abbreviations and acronyms
Acronyms often confuse readers. Avoid them when possible.
If an acronym is necessary, spell the full words and follow with the acronym in parentheses on the first reference. For example, The General Services Administration (GSA).
Not all acronyms need to be spelled out
If an acronym is commonly known, like NASA, it does not need to be spelled out. USAID does not need to be spelled out, but USAID bureaus, offices, and missions do.
Gender, ability, religion and race
Be person-forward when writing about people. For example, don’t write, “the disabled,” write, “a person living with disabilities.”
Make content gender neutral wherever possible, and strive to write in a gender-fair way.
If you’re writing about a hypothetical person or if you’re unsure of the person’s pronouns, use they or them instead of he/she.
For more information on inclusive writing, reference 18f’s inclusive language guide.
We follow the AP Stylebook when writing on COVID-19, which states: COVID-19 is acceptable on first reference for the coronavirus disease that first appeared in late 2019. Because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a new virus called COVID-19. Instead: A new virus caused a disease called COVID-19.