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May 18 / Joel Cordes

Internship Insider: Article guidelines cheat sheet

As a classroom teacher, I’m a huge proponent of informing my students how they’ll be assessed ahead of time.

Clear expectations (and the processes needed to reach them) mean that, as the bar is raised, a person can feel comfortable knowing how to get there.

As a Bleacher Report writer, your content is not only informally assessed by thousands of readers every day, but also evaluated internally by our editor and writer development staff.

Since you’re working so hard to hone your craft, stand out among your peers and grow your brand, I think it’s extremely valuable that you know what we’re looking for.

“Good” articles hit most or all of these benchmarks, resulting in consistently greater placement, read counts and long-term opportunities for their writers:

- Headlines use appropriate, full keywords for search-engine optimization and are engaging for human readers.

- Leads are compelling, on point and topic specific, use full keywords and are devoid of copy errors.

- Story Structure is weighted to emphasize the main point while avoiding predictability and reiteration. Standard articles should progress. Slideshows should offer some variety from slide to slide. A well-organized story propels the reader through, avoiding wandering thoughts and/or cookie-cutter paragraphs.

- Sentence Structure is active, clear and contains a mix of concise and complex sentences.

- Grammar is correct, not clunky. The writing displays a light touch, efficient pace and super-clean copy. It is highly readable while avoiding run-ons or eye-crossing constructions.

- Spelling and Punctuation are correct, with the article also accurately aligning with B/R keyword and Style Guide requirements. Errors are damaging.

- Word Choice is specific, creative and varied, and uses natural language while avoiding clichés, ham-handed metaphors or lazy vagueness.

- Opinion makes sense and is authoritative, believable, relevant and interesting.

- Supporting Evidence is provided for all arguments, along with source citations and/or hyperlinks. Analysis should be understandable, fact-based, relevant and within proper context.

- Writing Style displays a professional, lively, creative and consistent voice. Wishy-washy, excessive first-person and/or talk-show tones must be avoided.

- The content is Social Media Share-worthy.

- Proper Media usage means each slideshow photo illustrates its slide as specifically as possible. Video is used when called for. A standard article includes enough appropriate, relevant and varied media elements.

Now you know where to go. Getting there is up to you!

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Joel C. Cordes is Bleacher Report’s Sports Writing Internship Program Feedback Editor. Along with fellow editor Greg Pearl, he develops B/R interns by providing feedback and mentoring, the highlights of which are shared with the B/R Blog.