Skip to main content

News site guidelines: Correspondents instructions


This guide is a work in progress! Please contact us if you have any questions, suggestions or errors to report. As we get the new program rolling there will undoubtedly be changes to workflows and procedures. We'll communicate those out to the group and update the information below.


Who can post news?

  • Most departments have one or more news correspondents who are tasked with gathering, writing, and posting their department's news and events.To find your department's correspondent, see the Marketing Team wiki.
  • If a unit doesn't have a designated correspondent or needs back-up support - contact the Editorial Team.
  • Any news related questions (technical, training, photos, editorial, etc.) - contact the Editorial Team.
  • Marketing questions ("How do I promote this in other places beyond the news site?") - complete the Marketing Request Form.

News writing guidelines

What makes a good news story?

Newsworthy stories have one or more of these elements:

  • Timeliness—the story introduces something new, or is related to a current event or topic
  • Proximity—the story is close to home, related to MIT, affects the MIT community
  • Originality—something one-of-a-kind, unique to libraries or MIT
  • Impact—does it matter to people? does it serve a purpose? educate, inform
  • Human Interest—people are interested in other people (profiles, interviews, Q&As)

Constructing your news story


  • Short & catchy
  • Grab the reader’s attention
  • Sum up the story in few words
    Ex. “Bracing for Snowmageddon”


  • Short sentence, building on the headline
  • Provides more details to draw the reader into the story
    Ex. “The Libraries have what you need to weather the storm”

Answer the 4 W’s & H (Who, What, When, Where & How?)

  • The first paragraph of your news story is called the “lede” or “lead” paragraph. It should succinctly answer “who, what, when, where, and how.” See 5 tips for writing good ledes
    Ex. “Forecasters expect another two feet of snow will blanket the MIT campus Monday night. Grab your slippers and hot chocolate, and settle in with a good book or movie from the Libraries. Here are a few of our snow day favorites…”

Follow an inverted pyramid principle

  • Readers will scan your news story, don’t expect them to read the entire thing
  • The most important information should go at the top of the story, with the less important details at the bottom
  • Editors cut from the bottom up


Writing style guidelines

  • Tone: Professional, friendly, helpful, not too formal or academic. Avoid using library jargon.
  • Audience: Some stories might have a specific audience, like MIT students. If your article is tailored to students, make that clear in your headline or copy. Otherwise, write with a broad audience in mind. Your news story may reach well beyond MIT.
  • Format: Keep article length short (under 300 words) and web-friendly (see Writing for the Web). If you have more to say, consider a series of stories. Try presenting the information in different ways...lists, Q&As, etc.
  • Links:
    • Make links descriptive, make email addresses and URLs clickable.
    • Don't paste links into the text of post or say "click here"; instead, give the link a title. Don't say "visit"; say "visit the MIT Libraries".
    • Create links to any libraries mentioned (only need to do this once per post).
  • Titles: Use sentence case for all headlines and subheads
  • Refer to: MIT Libraries’ house style, MIT editorial guide, and AP style.
  • Use Oxford commas (the comma that comes after the last thing in a list of 3 or more items). Ex. apples, bananas, and grapes.
  • Provide a contact for more information, if appropriate.

News & events: how to post

  1. Log into the news blog: (if you're off-campus, you'll need to download & connect through VPN first)
  2. For news/events - click on "Posts", then "Add New."
  3. Enter the title and subtitle (see headline and sub-head guidelines above).
  4. If an event - check the box and put in the date and time information. Be sure to specify am or pm (lowercase). For greater reach/publicity we strongly encourage you also add it to the MIT events calendar
  5. Enter the text of the post.
  6. Insert images via the "Add Media" button. (see Image section below for complete details). 
  7. Format appropriately. Remember formatting standards and "Writing for the Web" guidelines. 
  8. Select categories. "All news" should always remain checked. Try to limit your selection to one or two categories.
  9. Do not use the "tag" field unless instructed by editorial team.
  10. Mark if urgent (use for time sensitive posts).
  11. Notes for the editorial team -- anything you need to tell us.
  12. Save the post as a draft, make updates, then send for review.
    - Save as Draft - come back to it later
    - Preview - opens a new tab with a preview of how it will look
    - Submit for review - will send your post to the editorial team.

Spotlights: what are they and how to post

What is a spotlight?
A spotlight can and should be used when you either don't have time or enough content to warrant a larger story. Spotlights are great ways to promote collections, services, interesting tips and facts, etc. in just one line. That line links out to more information. And no need to worry about an image! 

The different types of spotlights are:

  • Featured service -- just about everything we do is a service, so this can cover a lot.
  • Featured collection -- if it isn't a service, it is likely a collection! 
  • Featured location -- different ways to promote our different libraries.
  • Featured exhibit -- pretty self-explanatory - will mainly be used for the Maihaugen and Rotch.
  • Fact - share an interesting fact that then points to related information.
  • Tip - share quick bits of information.
  • Update - for updates on hours, closures, construction stuff. ID&LA will likely be the biggest user of this one. 

How to post a spotlight:

  1. Go to dashboard
  2. Select "Spotlight" - add new
  3. This is the tricky part - say everything you need to say in one line, and say it well. Spotlights should be around 60 characters. Use a character counting tool like LetterCount to make your life easier.
  4. Select the spotlight "type". 
  5. Add the link that this spotlight will link out to - this is required. 
  6. If urgent (maybe in the case of hours or a closure) check the box.
  7. Add any notes for the editors. 
  8. Submit for review

Due to space and wrapping reasons we may need to edit your line of text a bit. As we go along we'll be able to get a better sense of character and word limits. 

Image instructions

Our news site is image intensive. It is important to have a quality image for every post.

Where to find images:

  1. See the Marketing Team's Image Resource List.
  2. Make sure you have permission to use an image, or that it's in the public domain. If you need to add a photo credit, use the image caption field.
  3. If you want/need to use a logo in your post - look for a high quality copy. You don't need to follow the dimension criteria below as we likely won't be able to use it on the "grid" view page. 
  4. If you have trouble finding an image, describe what you are looking for in "notes to editorial team" and we'll try to help!

Before you upload your image(s):

Huge images aren't good for the site. Use a basic image editing program ("Paint" on PCs, "Preview" on Macs) to resize (and rename) your image if it is large. 

  1. For the various uses on the main news page we (the editorial team) need an image at least 700 x 300. These dimensions will obviously vary depending on whether your image has a horizontal or vertical orientation. 
  2. Save your image with a meaningful file name. Make it concise, use all lowercase & dashes, no spaces or underscores. 
  3. Save your image as a JPGs (photos) or PNGs (line drawings, logos).
  4. Once resized your file size should be under 500 kBs. 

Uploading images: 

Click the button for "Add Media" & upload a new image, or select an existing image from the Media Library. Your image should already have a meaningful filename & and be a good file size - if not, stop, see above and start again.

See below for the eleven easy steps for a quality upload!

If you have more than one image to add, do this for each image. Once images are in place you can make sure they are aligning properly and text is wrapping/flowing ok.

Any problems or questions - let us know!