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August 8, 2013

Formatting Tips for Contributed Posts

I've mentioned before how hosting authors on your blog is a great way to get fresh content for your blog and help increase your readership. It is also "easy" content. However, that doesn't mean you can be lazy. I have on occasion seen poorly formatted guest posts.

I just cannot bring myself to believe that a blogger just doesn't care what the post looks like. So, I am left with the blogger doesn't know how to clean up a guest post they are sent. I have a few tips for you to use to make sure your guest posts look just as spiffy as the content you write for your blog.

Tip #1 Don't go straight from document to blog

Most authors will send you their article as a Word document. Word adds coding to the text you see. While it is so tempting to just copy and paste that Word document, BEWARE - it will lead to formatting issues. Don't panic, you aren't going to re-type the post word for word. You just need to take an intermediate step. Open up Notepad an past the text there first. This will remove ALL formatting. I do mean all. Any italics, bold, underline, etc. will be stripped.

The biggest problem going from document to blog is line breaks. You will easily see where a line breaks when you paste the text into Notepad. Going to the end of each line and deleting the extra spaces and using a hard return for paragraph breaks will clear up the problem. Once the text is cleaned up, copy and paste to your blog. You will need to look back at the source document to add back in the formatting - italics, bold, underlining. Also any hyperlinking has been wiped out.

PREVIEW your post to make sure all paragraph lines wrap correctly.

Tip #2  Hyperlink text with provide links

Often authors provide links to background information. They will give the full url. However, this can look messy within a post, especially it is a long url. You need to take that url and hyperlink text within th epost with it. For Blogger you will use the "Link" button on the toolbar. Highlight the text you want to hyperlink - usually a word or phrase. Next click on "link" and paste the url in the dialog box that pops up.

Tip #3 Embed the Rafflecopter properly

Embedding a rafflecopter for a giveaway does require a small amount of html understand. Don't freak out. It is really easy, once you know what to do. Most authors will send you a link to where you can get the html code you will need. This is not the link for you to post on your blog. This link will not allow your readers to enter the giveaway. You need to follow the link to the Rafflecopter site and copy the html code on that page. Now come back to your blog and click on the html button on the toolbar (if you are using Blogger), paste the code. You can switch back to Compose. You will only see a link. Click on Preview and you will see the Rafflecopter properly.

If you are using a free blog, the Rafflecopter will remain a link on the published post.

Tip #4 Make sure images fit your post

Post size is not one size fits all. Some layouts have a narrow post area while others a very wide. If you given HTML coding for an image (used often for tours so it links back to something), the image may be too large. Look at the code for WIDTH. If this is in the code then you need to reduce the number. It may take some trial and error if you don't know the width of your post area. Again PREVIEW is your friend. Experiment until the image looks right on the post.

Tip #5 Solving spacing issues

Occasionally a post is all ran together. This happens with lists and bullet points. You may be able to fix it by doing hard returns at the end of lines in Compose/Text. However, sometimes that doesn't work. Also, I have seen extra line spaces be added though it does not to appear to be a space when I'm in the Compose field. If you encounter a spacing problem with your post, click over to the HTML and look at the problem line. You will need this piece of html code <br /> This adds spaces. If you just want the next line then 1 <br /> will give you that. If you are wanting a blank line between text then you will need 2. If you have too much spacing then delete the <br /> until you get the right space. Again PREVIEW will let you know what the final product will look like.


If you haven't picked up on what may be the most important tip when making a guest post look as good as possible, I'll spell it out here - PREVIEW. Before you publish your post to be live on your blog always PREVIEW it. While it is a good idea to preview every post you write, it especially important on guest posts. The way a post is formatted reflects not only on the blog, but the author whose name is attached to it.

A word on pre-formatted HTML posts

Authors sending pre-formatted HTML posts are popular for cover reveals and book blasts. I'm going to leave them to another day. But if you are having problems with it showing up correctly (again PREVIEW is your friend), paste the code in to Notepad and manually strip out the html coding. Be careful not to remove the "img" codes as that is for your images. Blogger and Wordpress read html code slightly differently so that could be the problem, by eliminating the formatting codes you are left with plain text that you can manipulate yourself.

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  1. Love tip #1. How did I not know this? :)

  2. Donna this is a fantastic post :) I'm yet to see a Guest Post really badly formatted, I always create my own guest post from scratch, i only really copy & paste the Author's section eg. the actual guest post or Author Interview. I hope that mine is not considered badly formatted LOL