Writer’s Guide

[Last updated 29 Sept 2019 22:43, re: featured images in current theme.]

Welcome Crasstalk Writers and thank you for participating in our little corner of Internet chaos. This page is to help you navigate WordPress and to make your posts the best they can be. This will give you a basic run through of what you need to do to post and give you some tips on making your posts look better.

Before You Post
Once you have an author’s account and have logged in you need to complete your profile. First, go to your WordPress profile page (click on you user name in the top right corner) and fill out the about me section.

Once you have done that go to Gravatar.com and upload a profile picture. You must use the email that you use for your Word Press account for the picture to be shared. Note: This is not the same as your Intense Debate avatar, you must upload a separate pic for your WordPress account. All authors must do this before publishing an article.

Now you are ready to write a post.
Go back to the dashboard and look for the the Posts menu in the left column. Click on Add New and you will open a page to create your posts. Taa-Daa! You are ready to go. Put in a descriptive headline and get to it. Here is an overview of posting to help you out. This is a video that will walk you through the process. Please, please, please watch this before you post or even if you have already done a few. It will really help.

Remember to hit Save Draft on occasion. There is an auto-save function but you can never be too careful. Now it’s time to preview your post. Hit the Preview button and have a look see. Look at the content and the formatting. Go back and make changes and hit Save Draft. Preview again. Repeat until it is beautiful. There is a spell check function at the top of the text box. Use it, please.

You will need to add a more tag to your post after about the first paragraph.  This is where the post will break on the main page and direct readers to continue the article by clicking more.  The tag is as easy as clicking the more button (next to the ABC spell check button).

more_tagNext you want to add some tags to your post. Tags relate your post to other things that have published on the site and they are used to fill in the Related Posts box when your article publishes. You can type in your own tags (i.e. music, movies, etc) or you can choose from the most common tags. Don’t add Categories, the editors will do that.

Once you are satisfied, you can move the post to the Pending Queue so that the editors can look it over and put it on the schedule. To get it in to the queue you simply change the Status to Pending and hit the save button. Once an editor has reviewed it, your post will be moved into the scheduled queue. Please do not edit or change your post after it has been put into the Pending queue. If there is a problem with your article please email me or one of the editors and we will take care of it. This applies to everyone.

And there you go. You have completed your first post.
Here are a couple of tutorials to help you with other things that will make your post look good.

Adding Images to Your Post
First, here is a guide to inserting images. Look for this little icon for inserting images into the body of a post.


Click here and a box will open that lets you add images into the body of the post. The image will be inserted wherever your cursor was placed when you clicked the Add Media button. You can use your mouse to drag the image to a new location if needed.

If you want to use a featured image, i.e. a larger, wide image (as is typically seen at the top of current OTs) that appears above the headline, you need to use the Featured Image link (box in the lower part of the right hand column, beneath the Tags) rather than the Add Media button. To do so, click the “Set featured image” link. This will bring up a dialog that will let you select an image that has already been uploaded, or to upload a new one. Preview with your browser as big as your screen will allow. Before you do, however, please be sure your image meets the guidelines (below) for featured images.


Adding a link to another webpage. Highlight the text where you want the link to appear. Click on the link icon at the top of the text box. A box will open where you can paste the URL you want the text to connect to.  Click save and you are done.

To add a video to a post. Please watch the tutorial, but essentially go to the page that has the video you want. Click on the button that says EMBED (not the url of the webpage). Copy that code. Go back to your post and switch to the HTML mode (it is the tab at the top right of the text box). Paste the Embed code where you would like the video to appear. Hit Save Draft. Preview it to make sure it looks right. Important Note: You must save in the HTML mode for the video to appear in the post. Further editing in the visual mode might destroy the videos. For YouTube videos make sure the embedding rights are not disabled. This can be checked by previewing your post.

WordPress can also automate the YouTube embed process if you just put the link to the video in the post. On preview the post will show the video not the link.

Crasstalk anniversaries are known by the portmanteau “Crassiversary.”

Guidelines for Images
Images are important. A great image can draw readers in but some preparation is important. It is best to scale the image to the desired final dimensions before uploading it to the Crasstalk servers. This saves the server from having to resize it on the fly for every page view. The best image quality will come from JPEG or PNG formats while the GIF format will make an image look grainy and pixelated. Your image should be crisp, cropped appropriately and representative of the post.

For a featured image (the larger images that appear above the headline), the image should ideally be approximately 1050-1150 pixels wide x approximately 550-600px in height (or thereabouts, it must be close to 2:1 width:height ratio) pixels or the theme will truncate your image, as it will if it is not greater than 1000px in width. When in doubt preview the post and see how it looks. You can resize images in Photoshop, Picasa, Pixlr, or Lunapic. Please help us by doing this but be sure to keep the proportions of the original photo when resizing and don’t be afraid to crop. Resizing photos can be really time consuming for the editors. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need help figuring it out. If your image isn’t suitable for cropping wide, then crop it tall and place it on the left and have the text wrap around it. For photos on the left the width should be around 300 pixels wide.

It is also required that Crasstalk have implicit or explicit permission to publish the photo.  Writers can use the Creative Commons photo search tool to find images that are licensed for redistribution. When using a photo it is required to give the original source credit by linking to to the source. This can be done at the bottom of the post. Captions do not allow hyperlinks so they are not useful for photo attribution. US copyright law states that all photos are copyright protected the moment the photo is taken.

There are many other sources of images besides the Creative Commons search engine, some examples are that authors have found are:

This post has a more detailed explanation.

There you go. You now know all of the mechanics of posting, so now here are a few tips on creating a quality post.

  • Write a descriptive headline that says what your post is about. This will help attract readers and will make it easier for search engines to find you. Please don’t call your post an edition if it is not part of a recurring series. Avoid using colons in your headlines. Remember this is a headline, not a book title.
  • Don’t cut and paste from Microsoft Word or other word processing software. Word adds its own formatting that can make editing a nightmare. Instead use a plain text editor (Notepad on a PC, Text Edit on a Mac, gedit on Linux). Type up your article in the text editor and the paste it into WordPress.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Please check over your posts for grammar, spelling, and formatting before you put it in the pending queue. This will really help us out a lot and it will make me think you are a wonderful human being if you do it.
  • Please use one space between sentences.
  • Please don’t argue with the editors. Their word is final and they are committed to making your article as good as it can possibly be. Trust them.
  • If your post is time-sensitive please email me and let us know so we can make sure it runs at the correct time.
  • Make sure that you spread the word about your posts. Put them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon, Reddit and other sites.

When you’re all done and you have your post in pending then navigate away or close the windows containing the post editor. This will prevent you and an editor form working on your post simultaneously.

Once your post is in pending or is published do not edit it. Ask one of the editors to make a change if it is needed.

That’s pretty much everything you need to know to be a successful Crasstalk author. Please let the editorial team know if you have questions or need help. Thank you for contributing to Crasstalk.

Need story ideas? Try the Crasstalk Story Board.