Article Best Practices
How to Ensure Your Article Gets Published the First Time Around
The purpose of your article is to tell a good story that will be interesting to your potential visitors. It should not read like an advertisement so be careful not to use “marketing speak” (no brochure copy) and never include prices. Please read through our general requirements, filled with tips to help get your story published.
- Ownership: The article and accompanying images must be content that you either own or have the right to share (either original content you’ve created, content you’ve paid someone to create on your behalf, or content you’ve acquired the rights to republish.)
- Consumer focused: All articles submitted must be of interest to travellers, not the tourism industry or business to business.
- High Standard of Writing: There is an expectation your article will be well written in terms of sentence structure, syntax, grammar and punctuation.
- Fact checking: It is the responsibility of the author (or submitter) to check facts against an authoritative source. Please make sure information in your article is correct and up to date.
- Start with “evergreen” content: An evergreened article is one that never goes out of date. Unless your article is specifically about upcoming festivals or events, please ensure you don’t mention dates and never mention price points. For a longer shelf life (visible to travelalberta.com consumers), if you are writing about annual events, rather than using specific dates, you could just say, “every year in mid-August the <xyz> rodeo…”
- Photography: All articles must be accompanied by at least one photograph that reflects the content of the story (see tips on page 4)
- Translation: Keep in mind articles submitted may be translated for our international audiences. Avoid using expressions/idioms/colloquialisms that may not be understood or won’t translate well.
- Titles: Make the story title as descriptive and concise as possible, no longer than eight words.
- Summaries: Aim for fifteen words or less that sum up what your story is all about. Use the “elevator test.” How would you describe your story in one sentence to someone as you ride up the elevator together?
- Length: Articles should not be longer than 800 words. If you can tell your story in 400 then leave it at 400.
- Subheadings: These help guide your reader through the story, especially as they scan online.
- Not more than 3-4 words
- Reflects the content of the paragraph(s) that follow
- Avoid clever puns – not good for translation
- Rule of thumb is one subhead for every 200-250 words; not for every new paragraph
- Related Links: Do not include URLs that should be part of ATIS listings (businesses or events). If you have resource links that support your story and would be useful to your reader, place them at the end of the article and Travel Alberta will decide if they can be included. For example, if your story is about fishing in northern Alberta, it would be useful to include a link to fishing regulations in the province.
- ATIS author field: Please enter the name of the author who wrote the article and feel free to enter a short author bio (not more than 40 words).
Writing Best Practices
- Establish a sense of place in your first two paragraphs. Readers want to know where an experience takes place, first and foremost. Use words like Canadian Rockies, rather than mountains, which is too generic. Make sure the word, Alberta is up high as well. This is good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Capture all the 5 Ws: Be sure your story answers not just Where, but Who, What, When, and, most importantly, the Why.
- Don’t forget to include the How – This is your call to action.
- Look through the eyes of a traveller who has never been here before. Be mindful not to make assumptions or take things for granted. For example, if you mention a park in your area, don’t assume that the consumer knows why this park is important. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge well-known attractions or events (eg, Calgary Stampede, West Edmonton Mall), if they help set your scene. These can be selected in Step 2 of the ATIS submission form.
- Active voice (the subject performs the action of the verb) rather than passive voice:
- Active – Stately elk inhabit Waterton National Park
- Passive – Waterton National Park is inhabited by stately elk
Keep a positive tone: Take a collaborative rather than competitive approach. If an article in any way disparages other operators, attractions or events, it will not be approved.
Level of Risk: If the activity entails a level of risk and/or experience, be sure to explain. Example: Class Four whitewater rafting – you would include that this is not for beginners, and then emphasize how safety is front and centre (eg, special equipment, professional guide). We must always provide clarity of this nature to address the comfort level of our visitors.
Things to Avoid
- No “marketing speak” – The idea is to write your story from the point of view of the experience, not the product. The article shouldn’t read like an ad. Do not include price points.
- Exclamation points – Avoid overuse – Your words should create the excitement, not your punctuation.
- Comparisons: Don’t compare to other places or experiences – Your reader could end up thinking about the other, rather than the one you want them to focus on.
- Avoid negatives, while maintaining authenticity. Not: “It’s an overcast day with the skies threatening snow.” While accurate, the opening sentence isn’t very appealing and could put off the reader. Rather: “It’s a crisp winter day, with snow in the forecast, and I’m looking forward to spending it with a pack of excited sled dogs who love nothing better than to run – in any kind of weather.”
Voice & Tone
- Use first and second person (I, you, we)
- Personable – traveller to traveller
- Engaged, in the moment
- Write as if you are talking to a friend, excited about the trip you just took
- Convey the emotional impact of the moment
- Use your senses to describe the experience. What do you smell, taste, feel, hear, see?
- Create a travel movie in the mind of the reader
- Readers should see themselves in the action, as part of the conversation
- Evoke a sense of urgency – Why should travellers come now?
Note: Travel Alberta reserves the right to refuse an article if it does not meet these basic criteria and overly strays from guidelines. We are happy to provide feedback in an article is rejected. We reserve the right to publish your article where it best aligns with our audiences.
For more information on article best practices and examples of well-formatted and well-written articles, review the ATIS Article Best Practices resource.