• # Guidelines and Tips for Writing Articles

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If you are a new author or unfamiliar with any of the types of content specified in the How To Publish document, then below are some writing guidelines and tips to help get you more comfortable in creating your work. First we will discuss the best way to format your articles in general, and then we will discuss good practices for writing topcial articles, reviews, and how-to guides. Quick Links

# Formatting Guidelines

The formatting and layout of an article are key factors in its usability. Articles must not only be easy to read and follow in a linear manner, but they must also be easy to reference in a non-linear manner. To this end, we recommend the following format guidelines. While you do not have to adhere to them strictly, ignoring them altogether can possibly lead to votes of denial if your choice of formatting obstructs the article's readability. There are plenty of formatting tools to help you lay out your articles properly, below we go over some of the more common ones and how they should be properly used.

 Main Heading 

Sub heading Sub Sub Heading Sub Sub heading Sub Sub Sub Heading Sub Sub Sub Heading Shown above are the four ways to break down your article into sections, below each is the format tag that creates the section heading. If your article requires more than three sub headings we suggest you back up and review your approach. Ideally you should not need to break down a secion any futher then the second sub heading. All headings and sub headings reside on a line by themselves, with spacing above and below as shown above. The only time you should not use a heading is to label the first paragraph as "Introduction". Sections are important not only to progress the reader from one concept to the next but to make it easy for the reader to find an area of interest when returning for reference. Within paragraphs, formatting should be used as well where neccessary. Bold words and sentences stand out to the reader and should be used to highlight important terms and areas that would be useful for anyone skimming the text or returning for reference. Less subtle Italics can be used to lend emphasis to words and sentences imporatant for those reading through the text. The use of ALL CAPS to lend importance to words or sentences is highly discouraged. Similarly, although Underline is available we recommend that its use is limited to avoid confusion with hyperlinked text. If you are using any code keywords or function names within a paragraph you can use the Teletype font face to help distinguish these words and phrases.  .. you can use the Teletype font face to help distinguish these words and phrases  Sometimes you have large sections of text you would like to stand out from the rest of the article. In this case it is usually not a good idea to bold or italicize the entire section. Instead, you should use the Blockquote or Note formatting to create a visible break in the article. These sections are commonly used for quotes or side notes relevant to the main body of the article.
This is an example of a blockquote
 This is an example of a blockquote 
This is an important note!
 This is an important note!  Tables are allowed to be included within articles, however they should not be used to actually lay out the article itself. Tables should instead be used as a way to present any data or information the reader needs. We recommend that article images be Centered rather than left-aligned, and any captions be included directly below the images. Captions can be italicized but should not be bolded. Images that are referenced in the text should include an identifier in the caption, such as Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc. Horizontal lines are available as well, however their use is not reccommended. Headers should suffice in defining sections of your article for almost all purposes. When referencing within the main body of the article using reference numbers, they should appear in brackets such as [1], [2], etc. These reference numbers should all point to a reference at the end of the article. You do have the option of using the "name" property of hyperlinks to anchor your reference numbers to the reference section at the end of the article if you wish. All references to online media must have a valid hyperlink. Alternatively, you may choose to reference online media directly within the article using hyperlinked text. [aname=topical]

# Writing Topical Articles

This type of content will focus around specific techniques, methodologies, languages, fields of game development, etc. Examples include designing levels for First-Person Shooters, working with new DirectX features, learning the ins and outs of a specific API, exploring the basics of game design, managing teams with Scrum, etc. A focused topic is essential for this type of content, should be conveyed immediately and delivered concisely. Writing "as you would speak" is excellent for drafting up these articles however it is suggested you take a few editing passes to consilidate your writing down to the core focus of the article. If you don't really have a good idea yet what you'd like to write about, or have an idea what area you are interested in but don't have a good topic, check out our articles idea forum to see if any of the suggestions help inspire you.

## Who are you writing for?

The majority of visitors to GameDev.net are looking to gain experience and knowledge from professionals and to learn new techniques and methods to develop games on all platforms. We strongly support both the beginners and hobbyists looking to take part in the industry and the active professionals looking to improve their craft. When considering an article to submit, keep in mind these various audiences and make sure you choose the one(s) you wish to target before you begin to write. Some broad examples are: Beginners These people are just beginning to build an interest in game development and are looking for entry-level guidance on how to get started. They have usually played games, and they might have heard some disconnected fragments about how development works, but they're generally technically uninformed. Try and make sure that any technical terms you use are sufficiently explained, and don't try to cram too much information into too small a space. Intermediates These are people who have a decent working knowledge of most parts of game development. They've made some games, and might be headed towards pulling together something for a shareware release - or they might be junior programmers in the industry. These folks are usually most interested in information that helps to solidify and consolidate their understanding of things, maybe showing them new ways of doing common things or case studies of other projects. They're also interested in content that introduces them to topics they don't really know about, without treating them like a complete beginner. Experts/Specialists These are people who have a solid grounding in a particular area, are comfortable reading whitepapers and playing with cutting-edge stuff; they're usually employed in their field or pursue it very actively as a hobby. These are the people you can present your fantastic new shadowing method or impressive approach to team-based AI to. But take care: these are people who know their stuff and will notice if something isn't quite right, so make sure you've checked everything out, and include full references to support your ideas.

## General Tips

Regardless of who you are writing for, here are several things we recommend you take into consideration:
• References should be included wherever possible, either as in-line links in the text or as a bibliography at the end. A "further reading" section is suggested as well when possible
• If you are planning to write a series of articles, know that the majority of article series do not get finished. We highly suggest writing all the articles in a series, and keeping the series under 5 parts, prior to publishing. Another method is to make the articles into a "loose" series that follow a common theme or topic and do not depend tightly on each other. Either way, make sure your series includes links to all parts within the article
• Ideally, by the time you submit your article you should have researched all the information you needed, but don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something. It's better to do that than to misinform people, especially when someone who does know it calls you out
• Compilable code is not necessarily the best way to demonstrate a concept, even when commented. Consider whether pseudocode would be clearer. That said, if you're going to include a downloadable code package to accompany the article, make sure it compiles
• Real-world examples are great. Use as much of your own experience as possible but be mindful of revealing any confidential information in the process

# Writing How-To Guides

## Structuring Your Guide

The structure of a how-to guide is similar to that given for [alink=topical">topical articles, the only difference being that the main article body will be a lot more progressive as you advance the reader from one step to the next. You may choose to simply make each main section a step, or define a section as a Major Step and have Minor-Step sub-sections to break down complex actions. All other article sections should be included as well where neccessary.

# Questions? Comments? Feedback?

If you are feel you are need of further guidance or have any questions on the above, please email our editor Drew Sikora.

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## User Feedback

Good guidelines, but I personally wish Sub Sub Heading and Sub Sub Sub Heading instead used h3 and h4 tags (with predefined CSS to style them how you want). My 2¢.

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I get the reasoning but don't see how we should style them any differently. Granted, if we do ever change our minds and decide they should be styled differently it'll be easy to do so. Honestly I'll leave the decision up to Mike. We used colors for headings back in the first few site iterations but that's all the styling we've ever done in that regard.

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I get the reasoning but don't see how we should style them any differently.

I'm not suggesting they need to be styled differently than they currently are (that is, h3 can just be defined in CSS to have a bold look, and h4 can be defined as being italicized).

By using < b > or < i > tags, it becomes impossible to change formatting of an article if you ever decide to have a different look/style for the site (yay for broken articles!). I just don't think headings are good places to hardcode style into a page (leave that up to the CSS, which is trivial with h3/h4 tags). Additionally, from a parsing point of view, search engines/crawlers can better understand the text as being a heading (which it is) if an actual heading tag is used. < b > and < i > give no indication to a parser that the text is a heading.

Mike, I'd love some feedback

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+1 for h1,h2,h3,h4.

How are you going to differentiate between a sub-sub heading and an actual italiced piece of text in the article?

Also, what do you think of the idea to offer a code template for potential authors to download?

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I like the idea as well.   I'll look into the tag support and styling tomorrow.

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+1 for h1,h2,h3,h4.

How are you going to differentiate between a sub-sub heading and an actual italiced piece of text in the article?

Also, what do you think of the idea to offer a code template for potential authors to download?

A heading is on a line all by itself, preferably with empty space both above and below, as the guidelines say. Any emphasized words using italicized text would be within a paragraph.

Not sure what you mean regarding a code template

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Suggestion for this page, perhaps move the "How To Publish" link hidden in the first lines to the "quick links"? I totally missed that link, for about 3 times :) (duplicating the link would work too)

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sure why not. Although... really? The first sentence??

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