A handy guide for your content style and structure. Stick with it to shape your prose into a Louder Than Ten styled work of art: let’s create sharp content that will make our audience think, laugh, deconstruct, share, and read it over again.

Here’s a summary of how we guide our content both online and offline. A handy note: when in doubt, stick to the Chicago Manual of Style and memorize George Orwell’s simple guide to writing like it was your grandmother’s birthday. Combined, these make up our bible for Louder Than Ten content creation.

Our voice


Our voice includes all of the ways we speak or interact with our audience in the digital and offline environment. It governs what we say like our word choice, our punctuation, and our paragraph structure. We’re a mouthful. At the same time, our content is direct, simple, and to the point. We stick to the grit and we mean it.

General points


Be clear

Get rid of all that jargon, trendy sayings like "tl;dr," buzzwords, and pop culture references. Readers shouldn’t have to watch a cult classic, read an arcane text or celebrity gossip magazine, nor know the latest meme to understand the gist of your article. Psst: We use inclusive non-gendered language whenever possible, so make sure your pronouns and referents match, except when you’re talking about a singular person. Then use ‘they,’ partner.

Be specific

We don’t want to hear about ’that time you did that thing.’ We want to hear about the way you tore your blue shirt sleeve on the car door en route to your first design presentation and how your boss, Steve, let you borrow his—three minutes before you strode in the meeting with two buttons undone. Specificity lets us relive those moments with you. It’s a powerful sandwich.

Get to the point

You’re here to rip eyelids open—to say something original. To do that, you have to dive right in. Don’t waste time milling around your topic with long intros or slow anecdotes. Strike swift and to the heart. Write like you could die of tuberculosis tomorrow.

Write for your readers

Our audience hangs out in several different pools: the freelancer, digital PM, and agency pools, for example. Honour them by giving pertinent background information and relevant context. Like a friendly handshake; they’ll trust you and read on.

Use clear headlines

Flowers are cool, but flowery headlines are useless. Not only do they cloud the meaning of the content they’re meant to describe, but they’re lost in search engines and inaccessible at a glance. How can you say something punchy, but give it some teeth? Choose to write clear headlines over fancy ones.

Write well

Paragraph structure

If you need a little help structuring your sentences, get familiar with paragraph formatting in this paragraph style resource.

Grammar guide

Get a little extra help with pesky grammar grinds.

Creative flow

Desperate to inject some life into your prose? We highly recommend some mini writing adventures with Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg. If your work doesn’t get better, you didn’t follow her rules.

Try Sarah Selecky’s daily writing prompts for even more intensive prose conditioning.

Approved and unapproved content


Dos

  • Fact check.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Credit other people’s ideas.
  • Check your sources. And vary them.
  • Say something controversial or opinionated.
  • Look for a new angle on an old topic.

Don’ts

  • Don’t assume that because it’s on the internet, it’s the truth.
  • Don’t link to click bait or reprints; find the original.
  • Don’t write to enflame or defame.
  • Don’t be wishy washy; say something!
  • Don’t be boring or tame.

Formatting


Here is a breakdown of how to approach the formatting of everything from abbreviations to zebras.

Abbreviations

YesNo
AKAaka or a.k.a
i.e.,ie or i.e.
PMPP.M.P.
GIF (And it’s pronounced with a hard G, dammit)gif

Accessibility

Accessible content works for everyone. You have a responsibility to understand how to write it. For more on accessibility guidelines, get yourself familiar with WCAG.

Important

Review image and alt tagging, headlines, and hidden text. These should be clear, relevant, and meaningful to all users. Alt-attribute text uses sentence-casing.

Examples

Good: Project schedule of ten weeks for mid-size web project.

Bad: Image showing a schedule.

Active voice

It’s not “our project was given the old one-two-kicked with a shoe.” Our subject comes first: “The gnarly haired CEO gave our project the old one-two-kick with a shoe.”; Only scaredy cats who are afraid to rumple feathers use passive voice. You’re brave. Say it directly.

Article titles, headlines, and subheads

For title, headlines, and subheads, stick to sentence case.

  • Capitalize the first letter of first word and proper nouns
  • No terminal punctuation unless it’s a question mark
  • No serial commas for article titles; use ampersands (&)
  • Serial commas for article headings; no ampersands
  • If no serial comma, use ampersand in article headlines
Heading levelUsage
H1Article titles (use ‘&’)
H2Subheads and secondary headlines (use ‘and’)
H3–H6Break your content into smaller, more readable chunks (use ‘and’)

Contractions

Wherever possible, we stick with informal contractions:

PreferredLess preferred
don’tdo not
won’twill not

Contractions

Wherever possible, we stick with informal contractions:

PreferredLess preferred
don’tdo not
won’twill not

Grammar

YesNo
Apostrophes’tis
the ’80s
George’s summer
Several Georges
Delores’ purse
tis, ’tis, or ‘tis
the 80s, the ‘80s, or the 80’s
Georges summer
Several George’s
Delores’s purse
Divide3 ÷ 53 / 5
Ellipses(three periods)
Em-dashesBeans—and I don’t mean green ones.Beans – and I don’t mean green ones.
En-dashesDec 1st–5thDec 1st — 5th
Minus3 − 53 - 5 (dash), 3 – 5 (en dash), or 3 — 5 (em dash)
Multiply3 × 53 x 5, 3 X 5, or 3 * 5
Numbered lists1.1 or 1.) or A.
Ordinals1st, 2nd, 3rd1st, 2nd, 3rd
ParenthesisWhenever possible, put them inside a sentence (like a champ).Don’t separate them. (Like this)
Pluralizing namesSeinfelds
Beneses (add ‘es’ when ending with s, x, z, ch, or sh)
Seinfield’s
Benes’
Serial commas (AKA the Oxford comma)George, Elaine, and IGeorge, Elaine and I

Lists

Ordered or unordered.

  • Complete sentence? Apply sentence case.
  • Full sentences begin with a capital and end with terminal punctuation.
  • Incomplete sentences don’t have capitalization or terminal punctuation.
  • For a sentence featuring two or more list items, end each (except the last) with a semicolon (;), add an "and" to the final item. Finish off with terminal punctuation.

Linking

A link should contain a complete contextual clue for what it is referencing.

Example

NOT: Read this article

Instead: Read this article about furry camels.

You can do with this hidden text if needed. Here’s more detail on hidden text.

Metadata

Although it’s a good idea to be familiar with how metadata works, let us know and we’ll help you fill in things like your meta tags for your article.

Our house style

We’re sticking to our Canadian roots, here, so jump in the canoe. We use Canadian English wherever possible and reference the Chicago Manual of Style. We use Urban Dictionary whenever possible. Just kidding. We use the Oxford Dictionary.

Punctuation

Keep your sentence length as unique as your freckles. Mix it up. Avoid run-ons and take a good long breath between sentences. Use colons and semicolons sparingly; they’re jewels.

Citations

  • Books, major works, magazines, and newspapers are italicized when not linked.
  • Articles and short works are enclosed in quotation marks when not linked.

Commas

Stick with serial commas (they come before the “and” in the last list element) except in article titles. Article titles will take the ampersand and drop the serial comma.

Company & publication names

A name is your dignity. Pay attention, friend.

  • Note how companies capitalize and refer to their own names in digital examples (watch for compound words and unique capitalizations).
  • Don’t emphasize definite articles. E.g. It’s the Huffington Post, not The Huffington Post.

Quotations

Use Chicago style to determine quotation rules.

  • Periods go before quotations.
  • Block quotes are for long passages.
  • Double quotations are like air quotes: you don’t really “buy them” or they’re “special.”
  • Single quotations are used for quoting quotations.

Sentence case

For headlines, we stick to sentence case. Capitalize the first letter of the first word, any proper nouns. That’s it.

Spelling

Canadian spelling please.

Terminology

Not everyone is familiar with the latest and greatest project management terminology. Be a charmer and link to something that gives people some background info.

Technical specifications

We use Markdown as our markup language.

Word capitalization

YesNo
internetInternet
ecommerceEcommerce

Word choice

YesNo
emaile-mail or electronic mail
colourcolor
sitemapsite map
websiteweb site
wireframeswire frames

Our tone


How we say what we say. Our tone is our branding, our style, our sense of humour. It tells us when to joke and when to get serious. Wrap this approach around your writing and grow words with mighty wings.

Our Louder Than Ten tone is playful, punchy, and direct. We whip crunchy words into tart sentences like a classic rhubarb crisp. Unusual metaphors win—we’ll topple traditional cliches for creative word choices that make our lines come to life. Descriptive headlines announce a new thought or direction.

More or less…

Read through our identity attributes to get a better feel for how we show ourselves to the world.

Voice and tone guide

TypeMore likeLess likeNotes

Web content

Are you lost? This page is. We all get lost sometimes.
 But then we find our life preserver and a bottle of gin and things tend to get better.

Dead end. You’ve hit a 404 error.

Leave the technical jargon and talk like a human. Appeal to the softer side. Be honest.

Email

Hey, it’s really great you reached out. Let’s chat and see if we can help you out. Which time works best?

Thank you for contacting us. Can we set up a meeting to talk about your goals and what you’re looking for? We'd really like to work together.

We're friendly and detached. We can't help everyone, but we're committed to help the people who are ready for change.

Talk to us.

Learn more about our programs or just say hi.