USC News content guidelines

Here you’ll find:

  • guidance for writers/editors from schools and centers who submit material to USC News, followed by
  • guidance for editorial staff who upload stories directly into the USC News system

1. USC News content guidance for all writers/editors/web specialists

Headlines

Go to our headlines page for tips on writing effective headlines.

Subtitle (called a dek in the news business)

This is a phrase that elaborates on your headline to pull someone into the story. It appears directly underneath the headline on your article page and acts as a second headline.

Example: Shows include a tribute to Trojan legend and Olympian Louis Zamperini

Excerpt

This is a phrase or set of phrases/sentences that appear on the USC News homepage (news.usc.edu). They may provide more elaboration than the subtitle does. Or they could be the same as the subtitle.

Example:  This year’s slate of halftime shows includes a tribute to Trojan legend and Olympian Louis Zamperini. It all kicks off Sept. 6.

Body copy

Subheads

Break up your copy into chunks of 3-5 paragraphs by using subheads. These help keep the reader engaged and provide visual variety.

Here it an example: Subhead example

Hyperlinks

Be sure to include a variety of links to other pages in the story. These could be bios of the researchers involved, websites of granting agencies, external news stories or any other rich links that could provide detail for our reader.

Images

Go to our Images page.

2. USC News guidance only for editorial staff who upload stories to USC News

Signing in

Go to our USC News WordPress site here and sign in using your USC username. If your email is smith@usc.edu, your username is smith.

To add a new story, either

  • select Posts from the lefthand menu and then select Add New, or
  • select + New and then select Post from the options at the very top of your screen

Headlines

Go to our headlines page for tips on writing effective headlines.

Subtitle (called a dek in the news business)

This is a phrase that elaborates on your headline to pull someone into the story. It appears directly underneath the headline on your article page and acts as a second headline.

Example: Shows include a tribute to Trojan legend and Olympian Louis Zamperini

Excerpt

This is a phrase or set of phrases/sentences that appear on the USC News homepage (news.usc.edu). They may provide more elaboration than the subtitle does. Or they could be the same as the subtitle.

Example:  This year’s slate of halftime shows includes a tribute to Trojan legend and Olympian Louis Zamperini. It all kicks off Sept. 6.

Body copy

Notice that the large space in the middle of the page has two tabs on the right upper corner: Visual and Text. Select Visual and paste your body copy directly into the large space in the middle of the page. Click on the Text tab and look at the text to make sure you haven’t copied any formatting (HTML code) from  your original file.

Subheads

Break up your copy into chunks of 3-5 paragraphs by using subheads. These help keep the reader engaged and provide visual variety. Format the subhead by using Heading 3 in the formatting menu, just above where you’re typing.

Hyperlinks

Be sure to include a variety of links to other pages in the story. These could be bios of the researchers involved, websites of granting agencies, external news stories or any other rich links that could provide detail for our reader.

Pull quotes

Sprinkle in pull quotes to provide visual variety. Here’s how you do it. For a pull quote that sits on the righthand side of the page, as shown, follow these steps:Pull quote

  1. Copy the quote that you want to highlight in a pull quote. Also include the name of the person who said the quote. For example, “She was the greatest Trojan ever.”  Sally Jane
  2. Paste the quote wherever you’d like it to appear in the story. Erase the quotation marks.
  3. Highlight the quote and name with your cursor, then click the big quotation marks in the formatting menu above.
  4. Click the text tab on the upper right side of your screen and find the pull quote in the copy. You will see this coding around it: <blockquote>She was the greatest Trojan ever. Sally Jane</blockquote>
  5. Add the following coding: <blockquote class=”offset”>She was the greatest Trojan ever. <p class=”attribution”>Sally Jane</p></blockquote>
  6. Go back to the Visual tab.

If you want your pull quote to span the whole central column, omit class=”offset” from your coding.

Highlight boxes

If you want to highlight a statistic, you can do it the same way you do a pull quote. Follow these instructions:

  1. Write or copy what you want to highlight in your box. For example, Nearly 80 percent of freshmen were from California.
  2. Paste this wherever you’d like it to appear in the story.
  3. Highlight the sentence with your cursor and click the big quotation marks in the formatting menu.
  4. Click the text tab on the upper right side of your screen and find the statistic in the story. You will see this coding around it: <blockquote>Nearly 80 percent of freshmen were from California</blockquote>
  5. Add the following coding: <blockquote class=”unquote offset”>Nearly 80 percent of freshmen were from California. </blockquote>
  6. Go back to the Visual tab.

Drop caps

For longer, more “thoughtful” pieces (what you might call a long read) you can use a drop cap to start a section.

Do do that, go to the Text tab. Use the following HTML code to set off the paragraph you want to begin with a drop cap.

<p class=”dropcap”>This is the example paragraph I would like to start with a large initial “T” in the word “This.”</p>

Images

Go to our Images page.

 Story Groups (packages)

Creating a group

Select Story Groups in the lefthand menu, then click “Add new.”

Turning the story group off

Go to Appearance in the lefthand menu

Select Customize

Select Homepage story group

From the drop-down menu, select “Select a collection.”