PPcorn Article Requirements

Hi, and welcome to PPcorn! If you’re reading this, it means you’re interested in contributing to our website. Before you can do that, you must familiarize yourself with our expectations. Please read this document, along with our Upload Manual (how to operate on our platform) and Image Requirements (what we expect from the photos you choose to go with your articles), in their entireties. If you have questions about anything you read, please email an editor at [email protected].

1. Content/Topics

1.1 All content must be 100% original and not published elsewhere. This includes school assignments and personal blog entries. Before you submit, run your article through this plagiarism checker and ensure it is at least 80% original content.

1.2 After we publish your article, you may not reproduce it in part or in full on any other platform, as it will damage our SEO. You may, however, share your article by providing a link to it.

1.3 All articles should roughly follow the inverted pyramid format of journalism. Main details like who, what, when, and where belong in the first paragraph. Please state the focus keyword within the first 150 characters. Try to use popular keywords in your articles on topics that are currently trending.

1.4 Always be thinking about the theme of your post. Ask yourself who your target audience is. Typically, your post should be targeting one of three groups: all people, women or men.

1.5 Avoid including outside publication names unless it is a very specific situation – like someone had an outburst on 60 Minutes and it’s a famous incident now. We want to avoid instances where people will click away. Rather than “He/She said in an interview with Rolling Stone,” simply state the quote as “He/She said.”

1.6 Avoid politics, religion, excessive sexuality, drugs and violence.

1.7 If you are writing a review or interview, your subject must have at least 10,000 likes on Facebook or, if they do not have Facebook, other social media outlets.

1.8 There are six different topics under which every post will fall: News, Life, Fun, Review, Interview or Quiz. A later section will show you how to delineate each topic.

1.9 Add links to related PPcorn articles when applicable, either directly on the related words or in parentheses behind them. All other links should be used sparingly. Unless they point to PPcorn content, tour dates/preorder information, or a very specific song/video/interview that needs to be heard to understand your article, then they should probably not be included.

2. Writing/Style

2.1 Never indent your paragraphs.

2.2 As a general rule, titles should be between 40-48 characters long (except for reviews and interviews; see topic descriptions below).

2.3 In your titles, do not italicize or include symbols other than / – , : ‘ (no double quotation marks, no periods).

2.5 If you have questions about title capitalization, visit this website.

2.6 Place all punctuation inside quotation marks.

2.7 One sentence does not make a paragraph. Do not have standalone sentences as paragraphs in your articles.

2.8 If you mention a monetary amount in anything other than USD, put the USD amount in parentheses.

2.9 In terms of censorship, we accept most language, but please use expletives only when absolutely necessary (song/album titles, quotes). When the F-word is necessary, please censor it like this: F***. When the N-word is necessary, please censor it like this: N***a or N****r. If you are not sure about other words, we follow the same rules at the New York Times. If you can find an article of theirs with the word in it, we will most likely print it as well.

2.10 Decades and years should be written as follows: 1980s, 80s, 1990s, etc.

2.11 You ABSOLUTELY MUST have access to Photoshop or a free alternative if you want to write for us.

3. Formatting Your Images on Photoshop

3.1 This is one of the most important steps in submitting articles for review. You must follow EVERY instruction perfectly if you want your article to be published. If you cannot format any photos to fit the topic your article, do not write the article. If you cannot find any photos for a list item, do not include that item on your list.

3.2 In Photoshop, there are three templates onto which you can layer your selected image(s). For News, Life, and Review articles, use Template 1. Also use Template 1 for Featured Images. For FUN articles, you can use Template 1; you can also use Template 2. If you choose Template 2, all photos in your list must fit to that template (except the featured image). That is, you cannot use Template 2 for one item on your list and Template 1 for another.

3.3 Before you find a photo, you must familiarize yourself with PPcorn’s Image Requirements. Once you understand what kind of pictures we accept, go to Google Images.

3.4 In Google Images, search for the topic your article is about. Filter the large images by selecting “Search Tools,” then select “Size–>Large.”  Some pictures will be of higher quality than others. Try and find a picture that, when you fit it to your template, does not look grainy or pixelated. This is very important.

3.5 Do not select photos that have gray and white squares as the background, even if you are able to properly format it in Photoshop (see example below). These photos are primarily used for promotions and are not professional photos. Also try and avoid photos with a purely white background, as these can be boring. Before you select a featured image, ask yourself: “Would I click on this?” The featured image is almost always more important than the text in your post.

Bad:

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 11.27.24 AM

The gray and white squares mean this pictures lacks a real background. Do not, under any circumstances, use photos like these.

Bad:

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 11.33.22 AM

Even though the above image is bright and clear, it is missing a background and, thus, an opportunity to be more interesting. Avoid this.

Good:

deviantart.com
deviantart.com

See all the color and the artistic presentation? This is professional without being boring. It visually draws readers in. Try and use pictures like this.

3.6 To fit your image to the template, save your picture from Google as a .jpg file. Drag it on top of the template. To size your photo without compromising its original proportions, hold down the “Shift” key and drag your photo from one of its four corners until it fills the template completely. You may have to cut off some of the original photo.

3.7 When it is properly sized onto the template (e.g. fills up entire template and looks great), click “Enter,” then click “Shift + Command + E.” This will layer it onto the template.

3.8 To save your photo, click “Command + Shift + S.” Save your photo with a title similar to your article or of what is in the photo. For example: “Madonna-tops-charts-ppcorn.jpg.” You must add “-ppcorn” at the end of every photo you save. Add dashes between every word, but no other kind of punctuation.

3.9 Select “JPEG” as the type of file you would like to save your photo as. Click “Save.” A window will then pop up. You must make your photo less than 300kb, but as close to 300kb as possible. Use the slider to adjust this.

3.10 Your photo is now ready to be uploaded to our site!

4. Topic Descriptions

4.1 News

Before you do anything else, search PPcorn for the topic you want to write about to ensure it has not yet been covered on the site. If a similar article has already been published, but you still want to write about it, you may contact us at [email protected] to discuss a new angle.

4.1.1 News topics are relevant and cover events that have occurred within the past 5-12 hours. Do not cover news more than 12 hours old.

4.1.2 News titles must be between 40-48 characters long. Do not copy a title that already exists on the same topic, and refrain from using slang/biased language.

4.1.3 For news about celebrities, you must write both their first and last names in the title.

4.1.4 All News articles must be at least 350 words long; however, it is advisable that you write at least 400 words in case an editor has to cut some things from your article.

4.1.5 There are six sub-topics of News: Film, Music, People, Sports, Technology, and Television. These should all be self-explanatory.

4.2 Life

Before you do anything else, search PPcorn for the topic you want to write about to ensure it has not yet been covered on the site. If a similar article has already been published, but you still want to write about it, you may contact us at [email protected] to discuss a new angle.

4.2.1 Most articles written for this topic should be in list format. Exceptions include specific Lifehacks (e.g. How to Chill Your Beer in 5 Minutes) and tech reviews. Life lists must be at least five items long and should not exceed 15 items.

4.2.3 Life titles must be between 40-48 characters long. Do not copy a title that already exists, and refrain from using slang/biased language.

4.2.4 All Life articles must be at least 350 words long; however, it is advisable that you write at least 400 words in case an editor has to cut some things from your article.

4.2.5 All Life articles must include pictures for every item on your list, no matter what the topic. The image you choose for the “Number One” item on your list should be your featured image. If you cannot find an image that is acceptable as a featured image, find an image similar to your general topic to use. Do not insert your featured image at the top of your article.

4.2.6 Format your Life article lists as follows:

Introduction

Number Ten: X. Caption/paragraph.

PHOTO

Number Nine: Y. Caption/paragraph.

PHOTO

Etc.

Bold each item’s “title” on the list, and start with the number furthest from one. Then you may proceed in descending order. End each list item “title” with a period.

Click here to see an appropriately-formatted article.

4.2.7 There are 13 sub-topics of Life: Animals, Entertainment, Facts, Food, Health, Lifehacks, Men’s Club, People, Relationships, Style, Sports, Tech, and Travel. These are all self-explanatory, except for Lifehacks, which are articles describing tricks to make life easier, and Men’s Club, which are articles focusing on primarily male topics (whiskey, cars, sports, etc.).

4.3 Fun

Before you do anything else, search PPcorn for the topic you want to write about to ensure it has not yet been covered on the site. If a similar article has already been published, but you still want to write about it, you may contact us at [email protected] to discuss a new angle.

4.3.1 Most articles written for Fun will also be in list format. There are very few exceptions to this. Fun lists must be at least 10 items long and should not exceed 15 items.

4.3.2 Fun titles must be 40-48 characters long and should include one number. Do not begin the title with the number, and always use numerals instead of words (e.g. “5” instead of “five”).

4.3.3 All Fun articles must be at least 150 words long and should include at least 10 pictures. Every item on your FUN lists needs an image. The image you choose for the “Number One” item on your list should be your featured image. If you cannot find an image that is acceptable as a featured image, find an image similar to your general topic to use. Do not insert your featured image at the top of your article.

4.3.4 Format your Fun article lists as follows:

Number Ten: X. Caption/paragraph.

PHOTO

Number Nine: Y. Caption/paragraph.

PHOTO

Etc.

Bold each item’s “title” on the list, and start with the number furthest from one. Then you may proceed in descending order. End each list item “title” with a period.

4.3.5 There are three sub-topics of FUN: Animals, People, and SMS. FUN: Animal articles should be lists of silly/cute/amusing animals. FUN: People articles should be lists of amusing/ridiculous/embarrassing people. Fun: SMS should be lists of entertaining textual exchanges (including uploads of screenshots of the texts). For Fun: SMS, the editors will remove all personal information from the screenshots.

4.4 Reviews

Before you do anything else, search PPcorn for the topic you want to write about to ensure it has not yet been covered on the site. If a similar article has already been published, but you still want to write about it, you may contact us at [email protected] to discuss a new angle.

4.4.1 Reviews follow a very specific structure. You can review one of nine things: a single, an EP, an album (general), an album (track-by-track), a music videoinstrumental music, an event, a film or a TV show. If you want to review something not mentioned here, please email an editor to discuss options.

4.4.2 Reviews should not be affected by monetary compensation, free merchandise, perks, gifts, promotional deals, or bribes of any kind. Reviews should not be affected by a personal relationship with the artist, his/her management, their label, their PR firm, or any related entities.

4.4.3 You will rate your piece of choice based on five criteria on a 1-5 star scale, with 0.5 star increments. For example, you CANNOT rate something 3.7 stars, only 3.5 or 4.

4.4.4 If you choose to review a single, an EP or an album (general or track-by-track), the criteria are as follows: Voice, Lyrics, Music, Originality, and Delivery/Presentation. Title format is as follows: Band Capitalized: ‘Name of Single/Album’ Single/Album Review (e.g. The Beatles: ‘Love Me Do’ Single Review).

4.4.5 If you choose to review a music video, the criteria are as follows: Lyrics, Music, Originality, Video Quality, and Video Editing. Title format is as follows: Band Capitalized: ‘Name of Song’ Music Video Review. (e.g. The Beatles: ‘Hey Bulldog’ Music Video Review). You must embed the music video you are reviewing in your post.

4.4.6 If you choose to review instrumental music, the criteria are as follows: Instrumentation, Production Quality, Music, Originality, and Delivery/Presentation. Title this review the same as you would a single/EP/Album.

4.4.7 If you choose to review an event, the criteria are as follows: General Effect, Creativity, Atmosphere, Venue, and Sound/Lighting. Title format is as follows: Band Capitalized at Venue: Event Review (e.g. The Beatles at Shea Stadium: Event Review). All articles about events must be published within one week of the event, and you must include the set list in your article.

4.4.8 If you choose to review a film, the criteria are as follows: Screenplay/Story, Acting, Directing, Cinematography, and Production. Title format is as follows: ‘Name of film’ Film Review (e.g. ‘Harold and Maude’ Film Review).

4.4.9 If you choose to review a TV show, the criteria are as follows: Story/Plot, Acting, Production, Music, and Addictiveness. Title format is as follows: ‘Name of show’ Series/Premiere/Episode Review (e.g. ‘South Park’ Season 19 Premiere Review).

4.4.10 Please include your star ratings for your respective review at the bottom of your article. Our editors will format it for you.

4.4.11 You should also include a review summary. Your review summary should be a few sentences that summarize what you wrote about the piece you reviewed. If you wrote a conclusion paragraph, you can use this as your review summary.

4.4.12 All Reviews must be at least 350 words long; however, it is advisable that you write at least 400 words in case an editor has to cut some things from your article. Reviews must also include at least one picture.

4.4.13 Please note that your review does not have to be positive, nor should it be scathing. Be honest, own up to your individual opinion, but also consider how the artist would interpret what you say.

4.4.14 Song titles within the body of the article should be placed in double quotations. Song titles should not be italicized.

4.4.15 Lyrics in the body of the article should be placed in double quotations. Stanzas within lyrics should be separated with a space, a rightward slash, and another space, like so: “Take a look at the law man / beating up the wrong guy / oh man / wonder if he’ll ever know / he’s in the bestselling show.” Lyrics should not be italicized.

4.4.16 Album titles, EP titles, movie names, show names, publication names, and tour names should be italicized. These should not be placed in any kind of quotations.

4.4.17 Your featured image for album, film and single reviews should be of the official album cover or official film logo. For these photos only, text is acceptable.

4.5 Interviews

Before you do anything else, search PPcorn for the topic you want to write about to ensure it has not yet been covered on the site. If a similar article has already been published, but you still want to write about it, you may contact us at [email protected] to discuss a new angle.

4.5.1 Interviews all follow the same format. You do not need to select a sub-topic for an interview, because the only interviews that are done are of people. Before your interview, research other interviews the person has done to make sure you don’t ask the same questions. Do not ask offensive questions, and format your interview in paragraphs; these are not Q&A articles.

4.5.2 Interview titles are formatted as follows: Name of person/band, ‘interesting quote from the interview that can also be found in your article’. Do not include punctuation (other than apostrophes and commas) in the quote in your title. Interview titles can be up to 65 characters long. Only capitalize the first word in the quote you use for your title.

4.5.3 All interviews must be at least 350 words long; however, it is advisable that you write at least 400 words in case an editor has to cut some things from your article.

4.5.4 Interview articles should include at least one picture of the person/band you’re interviewing. Unless the band requests you use a specific picture with the article, use the same guidelines as with every other topic when choosing a photo.

4.6 Quizzes

Before you do anything else, search PPcorn for the topic you want to write about to ensure it has not yet been covered on the site. If a similar article has already been published, but you still want to write about it, you may contact us at [email protected] to discuss a new angle.

4.6.1 Reference PPcorn’s Quizmaster Guidelines for information about posting a quiz.

4.7 Videos

4.7.1 Before you do anything else, search PPcorn for the topic you want to write about to ensure it has not yet been covered on the site. If a similar article has already been published, but you still want to write about it, you may contact us at [email protected] to discuss a new angle.

4.7.2 A Video post should be based entirely around describing what happens in the video and encouraging readers to watch the video. Do not upload a movie trailer and discuss news surrounding that movie. Do not link to outside sources related to the video. Upload a unique, trending video and describe it.

4.7.3 Video titles must be between 40-48 characters long. Do not copy a title that already exists, and refrain from using slang/biased language.

4.7.4 All Video articles must be at least 150 words long; however, it is advisable that you write at least 200 words in case an editor has to cut some things from your article.

4.7.5 You must embed the video in the post (to do this, simply paste the URL) at the bottom of the body of the article. Do not use the “Featured Video” module on the right hand side of the page. This will make more sense after you have read through the Upload Manual.

4.7.6 You must upload a featured image, but do not put it at the top of the body of your article. Only upload the featured image in the featured image module at the bottom-right corner of the page. (Again, this will make more sense after reading the Upload Manual). Your featured image does not have to be the thumbnail for your video, and it does not have to be a screenshot. It should be as high quality of an image as it would be for any other article. Refer to PPcorn’s Image Requirements for questions about this.

4.7.7 There are no subcategories for videos. Simply check off the box next to “Video” on the right hand side. Do not check off any more boxes other than “Video.”

Once you feel comfortable with this information, you are ready to write and upload your article. Please move on to the Upload Manual.