Contributor Guide

  1. Posts on Longreads.com
  2. Longreads Picks
  3. Weekly Top 5 Email
  4. Image Specifications and Tips

1. Posts on Longreads.com

General Tips

  • Be sure to add a featured image. Refer to the Image Specifications and Tips section below.
  • Enter an excerpt for your post. Excerpts should be under 160 characters long. If you don’t see the excerpt field in WP-Admin, you might need to manually display it via the checkbox in Screen Options at the top of the page.
  • Add a handful of relevant categories, such as “Quotes,” “Essays & Criticism,” and “Nonfiction.”
  • Add tags for additional keywords, plus the author and/or publication names as necessary. Add a maximum of 10-15 tags and categories total to ensure the post appears in the WordPress.com Reader.
  • Add a photo credit to images: In the WordPress media gallery, there is a “Caption” field. Add a photo credit naming the source and linking (using HTML) to the original. Example: Photo via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/skynoir/11224284884">John Smith, Flickr</a>
  • For very short quotes, you can use a larger, bolder font by adding class=”short” to the blockquote. For example: <blockquote class="short">This is the quote</blockquote>

Stories / Exclusives / Excerpts

All of our original stories get the feature article treatment, with large photos and centered headlines/deks. These should all be assigned to the “Story” category. See examples here:

https://longreads.com/category/story/

Dek

The dek is pulled from the “Excerpt” field in WordPress.

Example of a headline and dek on top of a Longreads Exclusive. The dek only appears like this for posts with the “story” or “top 5” categories.

Pullquotes

Add pullquotes to break up the text. They’re formatted like this:

<blockquote class="pullquote center">Here is a sentence copied from the story.</blockquote>

You can also change the alignment for pullquotes (replace the “center” class in the example with “right” or ”left”)

Example of a pullquote on Longreads.com.

Images & Videos

Add images or videos, depending on the story. You can embed most videos on other services (YouTube, Vimeo) by pasting the URL into the WordPress visual editor. To add more images, pick a spot in the story, then click “Add Media.” You can also center the image, or align it left/right.

Header Variations

Our original stories have four options for header treatment:

Here are live examples:

To choose one of these header variations, make a selection from the “Longreads Exclusive Options” panel in the WP Admin interface:

We don’t currently have any strict rules around when each header variation should be used. If you have an especially impactful featured image, give “Image Only” a try. If you have a vertically-oriented image, use “Dual Pane.” Give a couple of the layouts a try, and see which one looks better. Don’t hesitate to ask the group for feedback if you’re not sure.

The “Longreads Exclusive Options” panel also contains an experimental “Move the byline to the top” feature. This checkbox grabs the first paragraph (<p></p>) of the post and moves it up into the header.  It’s a little finicky, so be sure to verify that it worked before you leave it checked.

Here’s an example of a byline that should work, if you’d like to copy and paste it:

<p style="text-align:center;"><em>Author Name</em> | <em><a href="#">Longreads</a></em> | <em>June 2017</em> | <em>22 minutes (1,500 words)</em></p>

If you try the checkbox, but it doesn’t work, give Kjell a ping and he should be able to help. A known issue for the byline feature is that it sometimes will create unfortunate line breaks for longer bylines. We’ll figure that out. 🙂

Quote Posts

A quote post is short and simple, but it’s a great way to distill “what we’re reading,” what we love, and why we love it. A quote post is a short blog post that features a link to a story or book along with a notable excerpt or quote.

Examples: http://blog.longreads.com/category/quotes-2/

It can be helpful to think of a quote and headline or angle that is different from the original story’s headline or angle. Often quote posts work well for surfacing a different story that’s buried deeper inside of a longer piece or inside a book.

Example of a headline rewrite for one of our quote posts.

Quote posts usually begin with a short introduction by you, followed by the quote. You can also do it the other way around: first quote, then context. The latter works best if the quote itself is short. If the excerpt is longer than a couple sentences, then it can be better to start with your own introduction, so people know why they should keep reading.

We usually don’t use more than 3-4 paragraphs to excerpt from the story. Quotes are meant to be quick, notable moments from a story. Exceptions can be made for books, since readers will be taken to a book purchase link rather than the full free story.

For direct quotes in the post, use <blockquote></blockquote> tags.

Every quote post should include a red button to “Read the story” “Read the interview” or (for Amazon links) “Get the book”. This is the code for that button: <a class="button-red">Read the story</a>

 

Interviews

Same as “Story” above but also include “Interviews” category and use bold text for interviewer questions.

Example: https://longreads.com/2017/03/14/ariel-levy-interview/

Reading Lists

A reading list is a list or essay with a collection of links with summaries / excerpts.

See examples here: http://blog.longreads.com/category/reading-list-2/

All list items will be linked and wrapped in <h2></h2> tags. Include the title, and in parentheses, add the author, publication and year if not current.


2. Longreads Picks

Longreads Picks are stories that we recommend. Picks are shown to users in the feed on the right side of the homepage, and on our picks page: https://longreads.com/picks/

In technical terms, Picks are a custom post type (CPT) on Longreads. All that means is that they work a little differently than posts do.

To add a new pick:

  1. visit https://longreads.com/wp-admin/edit.php?post_type=lr_pick and select “New Pick” on the top left.
  2. Enter a title and a short description for your picks. You can see examples here.
  3. Below the main content box, there’s a new box with some additional fields:
  4. Click “Add Author” and start typing the name of the article’s author. This text box will auto-suggest matches from our database. If the author is brand new, you’ll need to visit this page, and add them manually first. Then go back to your pick, refresh the page, and try adding the author again. You can add multiple authors if necessary.
  5. The Publisher box works the same way. If your pick is from a new Publisher, you can add them first from this page.
  6. Enter the URL publsher date, and word count. No need to add tags or a featured image.
  7. Hit publish or schedule the post when you’re ready.

3. Weekly Top 5 Email

The Longreads weekly newsletter goes out every Friday between 3pm-4pm ET. It’s manually built in MailChimp. Here is a brief checklist on preparing each week’s newsletter.

  1. Once you have your Top 5 picks, create a draft blog post, titled “The Top 5 Longreads of the Week.” Use previous versions for formatting code.
  2. In Mailchimp, under “Campaigns” in the top nav, create a new Campaign by going to a previous week’s “Longreads Weekly” campaign, and selecting “Replicate” from the dropdown menu.
  3. Doublecheck that “Recipients” list is “Weekly Longreads Email” (You shouldn’t have to change anything.) Then click “Next”
  4. Under “Setup” leave all settings the same but change the date under “Name your campaign”.
  5. Skip the “Template” section and go straight to “Design” to make the following changes:
    • Click “Edit” on the “Longreads Weekly” section to change the email date and change any intro language or links if necessary. Click “Save and Close” when finished.
    • Click Edit on the Top 5 and story promos section. In this section you will update the Top 5 links and story links, along with their promo images and language.
    • Edit the post grid at the bottom. You can add, hide, or remove rows of stories using the buttons on the top left. Always add stories in groups of two — don’t leave one of the grid cells empty.
    • In the story grid, please make sure to crop the images to 1024px wide by 585px tall. You can do this within Mailchimp by choosing “Edit” when hovering over the image, then selecting “Edit” on the right. There’s a “Crop” tool in the Mailchimp image editor.
  6. In the “Confirm” section, first select “Preview and Test” in the upper right menu and “Enter Preview Mode.” You will see desktop and mobile versions of the emails. This is also a good place to test all of the links. Be sure to check all the links for all the story picks, headlines, images, and “Read Now” buttons.
  7. Close out of the window, and under “Preview and Test,” select “Send a Test Email” and send the email to yourself, Kjell, and at least one other Editor.
  8. Check the email and links.
  9. Before you send the email, be sure to FIRST publish the Top 5 Longreads blog post live, and check that your Top 5 link matches the live Top 5 blog post.
  10. Under Confirm, double check that the email will go to the “Weekly Longreads Email list.”
  11. Hit “Send” in the bottom right corner, and enjoy your weekend!

4. Image Specifications and Tips

Blog Posts and Exclusives

Images for blog posts should be at least 1456px wide. This allows for them to display at full retina resolution on desktop monitors. Landscape images tend to work best, but portrait images can be used from time to time as long as the minimum width is met. Featured images for exclusives are displayed larger than they are for regular blog posts. These images should be 2400px wide by 1400px tall. This is an image ratio of 12:7.

Emails

To keep load times down in emails, images should be no more than 1200px wide. You can resize to this width in Mailchimp. For images in the bottom grid, crop to 1024px wide by 585px tall.

Stock images

We usually use AP Images for our paid stock photos. Ping an automattician to purchase.

The following sources are great for finding Creative Commons photos. Be sure to include credit when necessary.

Other tips:

  • Ping Kjell for help with illustrations for Exclusives.
  • We’re generally welcome to use book and magazine covers when promoting/excerpting stories they include.