*the overall score is not an average of the five sections, but a reflection of the article as a whole. A low score in any one section can merit a revision request, despite higher scores in other sections.
**Standard Articles will not be accepted below 3 stars. Premium articles will not be accepted below 4 stars.
Authority: Research the industry. With so much information on the internet, people won’t spend time on anything that doesn’t sound and feel authoritative. While these articles are not meant to be academic papers, they still need to contain substantial information and clear logic. Although not specifically stated in the rubric, appropriate use of citations enhances authority, and positively impacts an article’s rating.
Understanding the client’s customers will help you write with a professional tone, appropriate for that specific audience. Be direct and use an active voice. Use examples rather than vague statements. For example, if you tell readers how to improve their office efficiency, you could go beyond just saying they need faster computers. You could talk about how RAM, processors, and video cards all affect computer speed, and then give recommendations for the minimum specs they should look for in a new computer. These specific examples make writing more intriguing and fun to read.
Readability: Articles with great structure will be more readable on the web. The proper use of headings, subheadings, bullet points, lists, and paragraph breaks makes online content more scannable. In addition, attention to sentence structure and the relationships between sentences will also enhance the reader’s experience. Examples include the proper use of:
Organization: Organization goes hand in hand with readability, but represents the substance of thought behind the piece. A well-organized article that has a clear focus and follows a distinct thought or string of thoughts from start to finish will help the reader better digest the information presented. Create an outline of your article, have a clear idea of your focus and the information you wish to present, and only include information that directly contributes to your main idea.
Grammar: Grammar needs to be perfect at this level of writing, but good grammar does not necessarily equate to good writing. Grammar factors in to the overall rating of an article and influences other categories on the rubric, but a great grammar score does not make up for a lower score in another area. Bad grammar can drag your overall score down, and perfect grammar is a prerequisite to 4- and 5-star writing.
Use value: Always ask yourself, “What is the value of this article?” Since readers can find good information in numerous places, ask yourself why a reader would choose your article over another. The particular “spin” you put on an article, or the angle from which you choose to write, will largely affect the reader’s interest and therefore impact your article’s value.
We cannot tell you how to achieve an audible “wow” on every article. That’s the tricky thing about writing—there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all formula to brilliant writing. Writing guidelines and rubrics are necessary starting points in order to outline product needs and expectations. A rubric also creates a standard to keep multiple editors on the same page. However, too much focus on a rubric can stifle creativity and encourage you to focus on the wrong aspects of writing.
Quality writing is much more than simply satisfying a rubric. A rubric is a rigid box for a very nebulous and fluid process. You will be much more successful if you take the time to understand the principles outlined in the writing guidelines and on the rubric, and then file away those principles and write what you feel.