Writing Guidelines: How to Write Better

The tone of Petful is informative but casual. Our writing is often personal (first-person, drawing on stories from our own lives) and always straightforward and easy to understand.

It’s not overly wordy or academic. It never sounds like an encyclopedia entry. We get to the point quickly, and we don’t keep the reader guessing. Our best writers ALWAYS do these things:

  • Use the first-person. Address your audience. Why? Because people respond to people. We are more than a website. We are a group of individuals working together to provide the tools people need to give their pets happier, healthier lives.
  • Speak directly to your reader, person to person. Use active verbs to encourage connections and understanding. Don’t bore your reader with passive language.
  • Don’t just reword what other websites have already said. Add your own unique spin. Your article must offer something different from all the other stuff that’s online.

Name Your Sources

Include at least 2 or 3 links to a reputable source. Insert links to your sources in the body of your article, like this: According to an article by the Humane Society of the United States, 5 pet store chains have vowed to ban puppy sales.

Get to the Point

Avoid writing long blocks of text:

  • Break up the text into sections and use subheadings (H3), bulletpoints and checklists to add more visual interest.
  • Aim for no more than 3 sentences per paragraph.
  • Some paragraphs can be just 1 sentence — this creates a nice effect.

Avoid Big Words

Don’t use a long word where a short one will do.

Instead of this …… Use this
assistancehelp
numerousmany
attempttry
implementdo
utilizeuse

Fluff

Fluff must die. By “fluff,” we mean wordy expressions and filler words. We are writing for busy people searching for answers, so get to the point using direct, clear language. Here are a few examples:

Instead of this …… Use this
Make sure that you checkCheck
In spite of the fact thatAlthough
Use it for purposes ofUse it for
It should be pointed out that(just delete it)
very(almost always unnecessary)
There are some breeds that do so-and-soSome breeds do so-and-so
She was suffering from cancerShe had cancer

Passive Voice

Writers who use the passive voice excessively will bore their readers to tears. Imagine Tony Bennett selling 1 million records with a song that goes like this:

“My heart was left in San Francisco by me.”

“I left my heart in San Francisco” says the same thing but in active voice. It’s crisp. You have a subject (“I”) who did something (“left”) to something (“my heart”).

Pro tip: Avoid starting sentences with “There is” or “There are” and “It is” or “It was.” These indicate that you are writing in the passive voice.