Formatting Articles for the Web
Nobody likes rules, so I'm calling this posting a
guideline in the hopes of getting some voluntary cooperation. :-)
Do you want a wider readership of your stories? Do you want to
get the recognition you deserve for your hard work of authorship?
If you do, then make it easier for your audience to read your story.
The following are some tips on how to prepare your articles for
publication on usenet.
Use a good title.
With literally hundreds of new postings in a newsgroups
every day, how is a reader going to decide to read your article?
People have a general idea about the topics they are going to read
when they select a newsgroup. However, topics vary widely within
a newsgroup. There are no card catalogues, no Dewey Decimal System,
and no roadmaps.
Use a descriptive title and use keywords in the title
like (f/m, teen, cons, etc.) Keep the title short so it fits in
your audience's news reader.
A title like "Alice" doesn't do much other
than indicate that one of the characters in the story might be named
Alice. Maybe something like "Alice's Domination" or "Alice,
My Dominatrix" might be more eye catching. Add in the "codes"
and it becomes even better. "Alice's Domination (MM/F, spank)"
tells me that Alice gets spanked by two men -- or at least I hope
Some people think that they are doing the net a favor
by reposting stories from collections, but they identify them only
by file name. Could someone tell me what "sumplc.txt"
is about? Please don't do this.
Give a synopsis
Once you got your readers to the point where they
actually opened your story, you still do not have them hooked. Give
a couple of sentences description of what the story is about. This
paragraph is like the text on the dust jacket on a book. It is supposed
to entice the reader to take the book instead of closing it and
putting it back on the shelf.
Some of the material you write is going to offend
somebody. Kinky folks come in all flavors. For example, those that
like spanking may be "squicked" by golden showers. Give
the appropriate warnings.
Write in English, Espanol, Francais or Whatever
Whatever language you use, write in it well. Take time to apply
at least some basic grammar. Try to write in complete sentences
and run the spell checker please.
I know that the Internet is international. I know that there are
many readers out there for whom English is not their first language.
Having said this, English is a very common second language. If you
can write in English, then you have a larger potential audience.
I hear from many corespondents apologizing that English is not their
primary language. They usually are better at writing English than
Write in ASCII
Not everybody has the same word processing program as you. If you
insist on posting in Word 2000, then only people with Word 2000
will be able to read your story. Also, Word 2000 has no idea of
what a news reader's line wrap is supposed to be.
The only common denominator on the internet is ASCII (plain text)
Do not encode your stories. Uuencoding adds about 30% to the size
of the file. More importantly, most people will not take the time
to decode what you've written. If you have to encode it, it isn't
Having said all of this, I realize many people compose their stories
in MS-Word or something similar. The following steps are some ideas
that you can use to make your stories more readable when posted.
- Use a font that will approximate what will appear on the reader's
screen. Proportional fonts (those where an "i" takes
up less space than an "m") look nice on paper, but
when they appear as pure text on a screen, they cause variable
length lines. Use a fixed pitch font such as courier, 11 point.
- Set margins for good line length. Use 1 inch or 1.5 inchmargins.
These settings (in combination with the right font) will produce
line lengths of approximately 72 to 65 characters per line.
- Don't use "fancy features" such as accents, fractions,
superscripts, special characters and other similar features.
These features put control characters into the text which show
up as blocks or lines when a news reader or browser tries to
read them as plain text. You might even consider turning off
the "smart quotes" feature (which curves the lower
part of the quote towards the text -- in other words there is
a different representation for open and closed quotes).
- Save the text as DOS text with line breaks. Nothing is more
annoying than to open an article that is 12 lines long and realize
that these lines are 1,000 characters long, so the reader has
to right and left scroll to read them. A lot of reader programs
will wrap, but not all do.
Write for the screen
Write for the media in which you publish. On the old days, this
media used to be a 24-line by 80-character screen. Things have not
gotten better. Browser windows, especially those that display the
story in a frame, may even be smaller!
- Use appropriate line lengths (no more than 72 characters long,
65 is even better).
- Break up your paragraphs so that there is at least one break
on each screen. Nothing makes reading harder than wall-to-wall
text. Rule of thumb: if you think that you might need a new
paragraph, you probably do. There is nothing wrong with starting
a new paragraph every time a new character speaks in a diaologue.
This technique may even produce one-word paragraphs! It may
use up more paper when you print it, but doesn't increase file
- Use a blank line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
Indenting is OK for books; it doesn't seem to work as well on
- Limit the size of the file. Some people download very slowly
and are hesitant to open a big file. Also, people tend to read
things in pieces. As a rule of thumb, I try to edit my stories
into chunks of 200 - 300 lines.
Rember the readers are your customers. The easier you make it for
them to read your stories, the more likely it is they will
read your stories.