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Instructions for Guest Bloggers

Thank you for providing your expertise to the thousands of readers of The Planetary Society blogs! Please submit your blog entry by email to your contact person at the Society. Your submission should consist of:

  • The text, as a file (Word doc, plain text, RTF, link to shared Google doc, etc.)
  • Any necessary images, either attached to the email or as URLs where the images can be downloaded
    • Please provide a title for images. Captions are nice but optional if the images are explained well in the text.
    • If an image is not from a NASA source, please give a credit line for the image.
  • A brief (2-3 sentence) bio. You may link to other personal or professional web pages in your bio if you wish.
  • A profile photo of at least 233 pixels square.

Answers to some frequently asked questions about guest blogging

How long should the article be?
Blog entries can be of any length; write the entry to the length it seems to want to be. A good target is 500 to 1500 words, but we often post entries that are much longer.

Do I need to include images?
Articles need to have at least one image, because including images makes articles more popular on social sharing websites. Feel free to suggest one that's already in our image library.

Will you edit the article?
Yes, we proofread articles before posting. Some get more heavily edited than others. If a post has been edited only lightly (fixing typos, spelling out acronyms, minor grammatical changes), we may post it without asking for your review. If your post is more heavily edited, we will provide you with the opportunity to review the post before we make it live.

Some guidelines for writing for the public

Our audience loves detail and the sense that they are getting more depth than is available on mainstream news sites. Don't fear to share technical detail. Here are some tips on how to make technical information easier to understand.

  • You're telling a story, not writing a journal article. Before you begin writing, relax and imagine how you would relate your story to a group of friends over coffee. Do you love what you do? Show it. Readers love that.
  • Don't "bury the lede." Tell the reader in the first paragraph what the article is about, or they might lose interest and click away before you've gotten to the exciting part.
  • Avoid acronyms whenever possible.
  • Use jargon sparingly, and take care to define terms that may be unfamiliar when you first use them. You don't need to avoid jargon completely; just be selective. One function of our site is to educate readers by defining and using important words with which they may not have been familiar. However, too many unfamiliar words will obfuscate rather than clarify.
  • Be aware of words that don't sound like jargon, but which might mean something different to you than it does to a member of the public. For example: "sand" means something different to geologists than it does to non-geologists. Other words that are not as simple as they seem: limb; terminator; rock; true color; theory. Don't be afraid to use such words, but make sure your meaning is clear.
  • Passive voice is deadly dull. Avoid it. Reorder your sentences to have subjects, active verbs, and objects.
  • Scientists like to modify sentences with one dependent clause after another. When sentences get too complicated, readers can lose track of the sentence's subject. Chop long sentences into several shorter sentences in subject, verb, object order.
  • Be careful of the word "it". It can be confusing what noun "it" is meant to take the place of. There is no harm in repeating a word in order to make the subject of a sentence more clear.

Some special notes about blogging conferences

  • It's generally not okay to take photos of slides at conferences. Contact the speaker and ask if they would share the slide you're interested in. It will be better-looking anyway.
  • Because of their ephemeral nature, conference blogs need to be submitted within a week after the end of the conference. It's better to be quick and less polished than slow and more polished.
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