Guideline for editors and content contributors
In editing and updating existing content for www.fsfe.org, the Editorial
team requires certain standard practices in style, in order that both
information pages and news content remain consistent and above all, clear.
This guide is not designed to impact on individual creativity. By providing
basic parameters this guide intends that the hard work is done before editing
begins, and that contributors can be as thoughtful in their writing as they
Tone and Style
- Articles shouldn't feel like a sales pitch (even if what's being 'sold' is
- Articles should be informative: they should center on a concept and detail
that concept, breaking it down in longer pieces, using subtitles.
- Make sure that the articles are educated: it’s important that the writing
sounds authoritative. If you use quotes, or refer to sources, link to them. The
UK's Guardian Newspaper adheres particularly well to these three points, and is
a useful place for examples
Spelling and Grammar
- Use British English spelling.
- Use complete sentences. Avoid beginning sentences with ‘however’, ‘because’,
- Numbers below 10 should be written in letters (one, two, three) but numbers
above 10 must be in numbers ('167', not 'one hundred sixty seven')
- Don’t use dashes. Instead utilise colons, and semi colons.
- Almost always use abbreviated forms. For example: "it's" and not "it is";
"that's" and not "that is"; "they're" and not "they are".
- Always use the definite article of "Free Software Foundation Europe", but never
when using the acronym "FSFE". eg. "The Free Software Foundation Europe is 10 years
old. FSFE has accomplished much...". Not "Free Software Foundation Europe is 10 years
old. The FSFE has accomplished much..."
- If the text is more than 500 words, break it up with sub-titles.
- Use short paragraphs. As a rule, aim for paragraphs between 30 and 45
- The on-line marketing resource Copyblogger provides a very informative
guide to copywriting. Of course, some of its points are sales orientated,
its general sentiment Is very useful indeed:
- Do not use footnotes. This ensures greater portability of the article to
different mediums and formats, and also makes for easier reading, if handled
- Use the HTML abbr tag for acronyms and initialisms where appropriate. Note
that this should not be used for the first instance of the use of the FSFE
- Don't make any attempt to paginate documents that are intended for
on-line in the first instance.
- When referring to the activities, views etc. of FSFE, the organisation's
name (or its acronym) should be used. Avoid use of 'we' and 'us' in text for
publication. Occasionally using such terms can be useful for greater impact in
headlines and tag-lines. In these cases text should always be in quotes. Use of
the third person maintains portability, clarity and professionalism.
- 'Linux' is a kernel. GNU/Linux is an operating system. Use these terms
accordingly in your writing to avoid confusion.
- In the first instance of FSFE being referred to in an article, the
organisation should be written thus: FSFE (Free Software Foundation Europe).
Articles may be distributed beyond the FSFE website, or later copied by readers
to other locations. FSFE is a term which connotes nothing without explanatory
text of the meaning of the acronym.
- Free Software should be referred to as Free Software. Not FOSS, FLOSS or
Free Software and Open Source software is one and the same thing, approached
from different points of view - they serve the same referential purpose (which
is not to say that they communicate the same thing). Therefore compounded
acronyms refer to the same thing twice in one term, which makes little sense,
and encourages misunderstanding. We deal with Free Software, and thus we call it