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5 Quick Ways to Write Better on Chess.com

  • webmaster
  • | Aug 22, 2014
  • | 2989 views
  • | 31 comments

1. Paragraphs

  • Do make paragraphs clear, focused, readable, and short. Every paragraph should have its own identifiable point. If you can’t explain (to yourself) the point of a paragraph, it needs to be rewritten.

  • Do start a new paragraph when you start a new idea. Use new paragraphs for all quotes that are a complete sentence, or when switching to a new speaker. Even if you leave a paragraph “shorter than normal,” it’s still better to write short paragraphs with clear ideas than longer paragraphs that leave readers guessing.

  • Don’t make paragraphs longer than about five or six lines. Don’t indent paragraphs.


2. Headlines and Titles

  • Do write appealing headlines. Be as specific as possible. Use reader-friendly terms like “how to” and specific numbers. Try to tell readers what they will get out of the article.

CORRECT: 3 Easy Ways to Beat the Queen’s Pawn Opening

  • Don’t write vague headlines.

  • Don’t use the word “and” or the symbol “&” in a news headline. Use a comma instead.

CORRECT: Nakamura, So to Play Death Match

It is O.K. to use “and” in an article headline.


3. Capitalization

  • Do capitalize official titles when they are being used as titles.

CORRECT: World Champion Magnus Carlsen will play in the tournament.

  • Don’t capitalize titles when used normally in the sentence.

CORRECT: Carlsen became world champion last year.
CORRECT: The current world champion, Magnus Carlsen, is good at chess.

  • Don’t capitalize ordinary nouns just because they are important.


4. Hyphens and Dashes

  • Do use two hyphens in a row, with a space on each side -- like this -- to make a dash. Dashes are used to indicate breaks in thought or interruptions within sentences.

  • Don’t overuse dashes. Commas or colons are often better options.

  • Do use a single hyphen without spaces for date ranges.

CORRECT: January 4-6, January 15-February 1


5. Bold Text

  • Do bold key ideas, names, and places in your article or news item, especially early in the piece. This increases readability and gives readers a quick idea of the article’s most important points.

  • Don’t overuse bold text, or bold entire paragraphs. Only emphasize the most important elements.


Written by Chess.com staff, with special thanks to Pete, Mike Klein, and Peter Doggers.



Comments


  • 2 weeks ago

    bulletplayer2004

    Opps, make that NM GreenLaser

  • 2 weeks ago

    bulletplayer2004

    thanks for the advice, NMgreenlaser. Hope you write more articles in the future,;)

  • 3 weeks ago

    OldChessDog

    Thanks!! As someone who likes to write a blog now and again, it's nice to have a good style guide to go by :-)

  • 3 weeks ago

    ghostofmaroczy

    @billwall

    I anticipate this headline:

    GMHikaru Tries His Hand At Go, Divine Move Impresses

  • 3 weeks ago

    billwall

    I guess I would have written the headline as:

    Nakamura Plays Death Match With Another Grandmaster.  So?

  • 3 weeks ago

    pete

    @NM GreenLaser You're right. Thanks.

  • 3 weeks ago

    NM GreenLaser

    Pete: Wasn't your reply to me on not indenting paragraphs meant for RG1951?

    When you write it is a matter of style, that is the real point. Certainly, chess.com can have a style guide. Media companies have style books for their authors to use. Unfortunately, there it is not just a matter of style, but controlling vocabulary, facts, and stories.

  • 3 weeks ago

    pete

    @RG1951  

    It's just a matter of style. Indenting paragraphs is a little more prevalent in print media, but even there it's getting rarer.

    It's almost extinct on the Web. I can't think of a prominent media site on the Web that uses indented paragraphs. You're from England, so check out the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28900784  :) No indents. 

    Indending as a whole is on its way out. "Block style" business letters are now the standard. Go look at any press release from a large corporation. You probably won't find indented paragraphs.

    Indenting made sense when space was limited on the page. 

  • 3 weeks ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    I'm frankly surprised this article wasn't composed as a top ten list..

    ***

    10 Incredible Ways To Improve Your Chess.com Articles

    ***

    1) Make everything a top ten list in an attempt to transform chess.com into upworthy

    2) Whenever possible, use cliches 

    3) Puns are always good.  Always.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  Especially on words like "Knight/Night", "Check/Cheque", and "Krush/Crush".

    4) Repeatedly recycle truisms as revelations: people getting checkmated without queens on the board!  Grandmasters falling for opening traps!  Top ten places where chess has sometimes occured!

    5) Long winded vainglorious anecdotes are a refreshing way to add a personal touch to every rook and pawn endgame

    6) Take every opportunity to promote your group, youtube account, book, or selection of coffee mugs

    7) pad

    8) pad more

    9) Oh, what the hell, just keep padding

    10) Exclamation marks!

  • 4 weeks ago

    Conflagration_Planet

    Surprised

  • 4 weeks ago

    NM GreenLaser

    @Pete

    If everything is bold, then, for me, it is more visible. There is bold and there is bold and there is bold, etc. I made fewer mistakes and rewrites using bold than without. However, I have no problem agreeing to site conventions requested for writers.

  • 4 weeks ago

    RG1951

    Pete (staff),

            Thank you for your response. Why don't you wish people to indent paragraphs when contributig to chess.com? I'm curious.

  • 4 weeks ago

    pete

    chrka 

    I agree, but some of our authors compose in plain-text editors. This might be changing soon. 

  • 4 weeks ago

    pete

    @GreenLaser 

    If everything is bold, then nothing is actually "bold," right?

  • 4 weeks ago

    pete

    @RG1951

    This is for writing on Chess.com. Feel free to indent paragraphs elsewhere. :)

  • 4 weeks ago

    batgirl

    • Don't
    • overuse
    • the
    • list
  • 4 weeks ago

    tpe09222012

    Since everybody seems to be offering an opinion on this, and because I had nothing better to do on a Saturday night, I stared at all the alternatives that have been given for "Nakamura, So to Play Death Match."

    It seems to me, in my opinion, that there really is no danger of ambiguity. "Nakamura, So to Play Death Match" obviously refers to a single Death Match, as it is singular, and it is therefore strongly implied that they would be playing each other.

    I prefer "Nakamura, So to Play Death Match" to "Nakamura-So Death Match" because dropping the verb "to play" from the title makes it lose some of its dynamism. That's the opinion of someone who has not been through a degree program in semiotics.

    The only improvement I think worth considering is that the title should restore the "and" to the title. "Nakamura, So to Play Death Match" sounds as though it's influenced by newspaper conventions, where editors doing page layout would have had a reason to savage grammatical conventions for conciseness. On a website, it's reasonable to ask whether the same concerns still apply.

    The more I stare at it though, the more I like "Nakamura, So to play Death Match," since there's something almost Tacitean about replacing a conjuction with a comma. I would keep it that way, if it were up to me.

  • 4 weeks ago

    PardalsemCasa

    Hmmm... yes, "Nakamura-So Death Match" would be a Death Match between Nakamura and So, and that's what I inferred from the text... however, the headline "Nakamura, So to Play Death Match", can be them playing less famous players...

  • 4 weeks ago

    Bunny_Slippers_

    Do please ask the verbose columnist who writes a bit overly blathery and precious to write his missives leaner and to the point?

  • 4 weeks ago

    power_2_the_people

    Great tips. Seems everything ive learned about that --better writing and better readability--  in the course of my studies is there. About Titles: Everybody knows titles are not always so easy to write and are often uneasy to read; it may always be the case whether there is a correct way or not.

          Nakamura-So Death Match ?

          Nakamura, So to Play Death Match ?

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