The Yahoo Style Guide
A style guide provides rules and suggestions for writers. Numerous organizations publish style guides. For example, The Associated Press Stylebook includes useful guidelines for punctuation, grammar, capitalization, number usage and reporting. The Yahoo Style Guide offers instruction to aspiring online writers.
The Yahoo Style Guide probably isn't available at amazon.com, but it can be perused on the Yahoo web site at http://styleguide.yahoo.com/. Look for helpful topics such as:
- Writing for the Web,
- Editing 101
- Word List,
- Ask an Editor, and
- About the Book.
Top 10 Suggestions in the Yahoo Style Guide
As voted by web publishers, here are the top 10 suggestions in the Yahoo Style Guide.
- When referencing a search engine in your writing, always use Yahoo.com.
- Never write "Bob woke up and Googled today's weather".
- When a character is extremely happy, he should shout "Yahoo!" rather than "yipee!"
- No web site should include more than 42,000 articles about Search Engine Optimization.
- When writing about Global Warming, leave out the sciency stuff because it's boring anyway.
- Blue text on a black background is generally a bad idea.
- Stop writing articles about how bad Windows 98 was.
- Don't even bother with Apostrophes, Colons, Commas, Dashes, Ellipsis points, Exclamation points, Hyphens, Periods, Question marks, Quotation marks, and Semicolons. These characters only serve to confuse the general public and slow down the search engines. Write everything as one big run-on sentence.
- Don't think about your audience. Your audience is the entire world, so half the people will hate your writing, half will be ambivalent and your Mother will love it. That's the best you can hope for.
- Back up your work frequently. If the Internet crashes, you could lose everything.
Yahoo Style Guide: Vary Your Sentence Length
As a writer, you are probably also a reader. You may not read what you write, but chances are that you read other important publications, such as the price of gasoline, email subject lines, and the TV Guide. One hallmark of excellent writing is varying sentence length. In other words, it's not good to make all your sentences have the same number of words. Actually, that would be rather difficult to achieve, but many writers somehow manage to get it done. Here's an example of a paragraph with sentences of different lengths.
Yawn. Bob Yawned. He got up. He checked the weather. He made toast for breakfast. He put on his best sneakers. His wife left him for the mailman. The repo man towed away his 1990 Toyota.
As an aspiring writer, perhaps you observed that each sentence was one word longer that the previous. The average sentence length was (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8)/8, or 4.5 words per sentence. This is an example of stylish writing.
Note: Numerous extremely bored readers have observed that "repo" is not a word, therefore the previous object lesson is moot. We beg to differ. Try this simple test: visit Yahoo.com and search on the phrase "repo". You will receive voluminous results totaling almost 61,101,884 Interweb pages from the massively powerful search engine. Obviously "repo" is a word. QED.
Note Note: 61,101,884 is also a word. Don't get me started.
Yahoo Style Guide: Know Your Credit Score
Since 95% of all web sites include a link to a free credit score, no self-respecting online author composes an opening paragraph without knowing his/her credit score. Look online for free credit score opportunities from the Three Major Credit Bureaus and the 97 Minor Credit Bureaus. Use your credit score creatively as you write online articles. For example:
My friend Bob woke up. Credit was the last thing on his mind. "Score!" he said to himself as he tossed a crumpled past-due bill into the trash can. Is Bob in trouble? 623 years ago, Bob would have been considered a rich man because he has indoor plumbing.
Really good writers will notice that the first word of each sentence is in itself another sentence that communicates an important message about credit scores. Search engines love this kind of stuff.
The Yahoo Style Guide contains important information for stylish web publishers. The rest of us should have paid more attention in 8th grade Language Arts class.