Using some simple formatting rules and the free web tool StackEdit, you can create beautifully crafted Steemit Articles. This article is aimed at those who are new to Steemit and who have had little or no experience of coding or using a content management system
This article is aimed at those who are new to Steemit and who have had little or no experience of coding or using a content management system (CMS), or blogging in general. After reading this you will be able to add code manually or automatically and understand the importance of good formatting.
What you will learn:
- Formatting and why it's important
- How to format a Steemit article
- Using Markdown To Format Steemit Articles
- How To Use StackEdit To Implement Markdown
Formatting and Why It Is Important
When we talk about format in relation to computer documents, we usually mean one of two things. If asked what format a particular document is in; the answer will depend on the program it has been made in, so Word, Note, Adobe .pdf and so on.
When we talk about the formatting of a document, we are referring to the page arrangement of the various elements within the document.
If you want to become a successful writer on Steemit, then you are going to need a good writing style and to be reporting on a topic or topics of widely held interest. However if your wonderful 1500 word article on the merits of base jumping and parkour is badly formatted, then no one will read it, not even your friends.
Here's what I do if one of my friends sends me a link to a badly formatted article that they may or may not have written. I will skim the first 5 lines and then skim the article for a point of interest, read that line or lines and then reply to my friend quoting the point of interest, making it seem as if I had read it.
Here is what I do if one of my friends sends me a well formatted article; I read it.
As much as I'd love to think of myself as being unique and special, I'm not and I won't be the only person to have this kind of policy with badly formatted articles.
If you have joined Steem to become a contributor and you want to earn money as you write, you need as many upvotes per article as possible. The problem is, you are not going to get many votes, if nobody reads to the end of your articles.
You could end up bashing away for months, wondering why your articles aren't doing very well, when other people writing about the same subjects as you, seem to be making hundreds or even thousands of dollars per article.
How To Format A Steemit Article
Whether you're writing an article on Steemit or an email to your friend, you should always use proper formatting.
Always add a summary to your article: When you hit the submit a story button, you will see a space to add a summary, use it. Your summary will automatically be added to the very top of your post and will be visible to users when browsing.
You can still add a summary of the article in the actual posting, but make sure that it goes with what you have said in the original summary and put the new one in italics.
Use subheadings: It is important to use subheadings as they make it easier for your reader to browse your article. A reader might find your article via Google and only be interested in a particular paragraph or sentence you've written. Subheadings will help them find what they're looking for quickly and may tempt them to read the whole article, whereas not being able to find what they want will simply cause them to go elsewhere.
You can use them like I have here, bold text, followed by a colon and then the paragraph, or you can return the paragraph under the heading, both ways work.
Use Headers: Not to be confused with subheadings; headers are larger in text than normal, but smaller than the main title header.
Headers are a nice way of breaking up long articles into sections. Even if you didn't think of header names as you were writing the article, look back through it and see if you can break it up using a header or two.
Click the following link for an example of how to use headers
Use Semi Colons: Semi colons not only break up the flow of text, but help to temporarily jump to a point whilst staying within your original subject.
"The recent advances in Silicon Valley have created a lot of wealthy individuals; unlike the dotcom bubble in the 2000s which saw fortunes fall as quickly as they rose, these current advances are promising a whole lot more."
Also use semicolons if you are quoting someone in the middle of a sentence.
When Steve Jobs first met Bill Gates, he looked at his attire and asked him;
"Hey buddy, do you need a buck for a coffee?"
Always Put Speech Quotes On Separate lines In Italics: Putting one quick quote on the same line in a sentence is forgivable. However putting quotes from more than one person, or quoting a conversation without separating the lines of speech is not. You don't want your readers to start losing track of where they are, or having to read sentences 2 or 3 times before getting the meaning.
Don't Use The Same Phrases Or Words In Corresponding Paragraphs: Again this is about not fatiguing your reader, if you use the same term too many times, it can cause the reader to lose their place and/or get mini déjà vu.
Pay Attention To Word Placement: Similar to the point above but not quite, this is also about not repeating too often, as well as, not using the same word too near a point where you've used it before. In this case you can use a word only twice, but it seems a lot more because of your placement.
When writing a sentence and I don't want to fatigue the reader, the last thing I want to do is to use sentence, in almost the same place I used it above.*
You can get round this by adding or subtracting words so that the words don't appear in the same place.
If i'm writing a sentence about formatting and I don't want to fatigue my readers, the last thing I want to do is to shoot myself in the foot by using the word sentence in almost the same place as above.
Or if that isn't suitable, use a different word.
If I am writing a sentence and I don't want to fatigue the reader, the last thing I want to do is to use the same phrase as before.
So as you can see from the first example, by using the word sentence almost directly below it doesn't look right and in a larger paragraph, can cause the user's eye to drift and reread a sentence. Remember, you can cause the same effect by starting two consecutive paragraphs with the same word or phrase, so watch out for that as well.
Make Your Paragraphs Different By Varying Line Numbers: It is easy; especially when starting out writing, to use the same amount of lines in each paragraph. This happens subconsciously, which is why it is important to read over what you have written a few times before publishing. If you notice you have used the same amount of lines in most or all of your paragraphs, go back and fix it.
Texts with a recurring amount of same-sized paragraphs, tend to be contracts or other legal documents and unless you are a paralegal, this style will send you to sleep, so avoid it like the plague.
Use Images: You should use images where you can, use them in two ways, as a header image or as a breaker image.
As you will see when using Markdown, you add images into Steemit posts by directly calling the image url (web address), meaning that you are restricted by whatever size the image happens to be.
So when you're choosing a header image (the image readers will see when browsing posts), you can use large images, as only your summary will be above the image. However for breaker images, having too large a picture isn't good, as it looks untidy and can jar with the reader.
So when searching for breaker images, use the term thumbnail after you type what picture you're looking for. I haven't used images for this article, because this kind of information article can stand up without them. However if you look at my opinion piece article here, you will see I have used breaker images all the way down.
As much as I love my ego being stroked, I realise it's a lot harder to read 2,500 words of my opinion, than it is to read the same amount of words, giving defined advice, laid out in sections.
Using Markdown To Format Steemit Articles
Anytime you want to submit a post, or reply to a comment or post, you will see the words;
"Styling with Markdown is supported"
If you click the link you will be taken to this page there you will be shown the various codes to style your article. Anything from making your text bold, to adding an image into the post.
There are other resources out there if you really want, however you will have enough to get on with using the link above. If you are into the idea of coding then you can find a more advanced guide here.
If you are going to enter Markdown code into your article manually, then the best thing to do - if you're not doing it already - is to write your article in a separate word document, or whatever word processing software you use. Once you've finished adding your code, just copy and paste as plain text into the Steemit post box.
Remember when you're posting, if you scroll down and look below the post box, you will see a preview of what your article will look like before you submit it. This is obviously handy as you'll be able to see if you've made any mistakes in the code, if you have, make sure to correct the mistake on the word document and then copy and paste again. Doing it this way is a lot easier than trying to correct your mistake in the Steemit post box, as it is quite small and fiddly.
How To Use StackEdit To Implement Markdown
The StackEdit editor is a wonderful and free online tool, which can easily implement Markdown code for you. Even though it doesn't cost to use, I would advise starting an account for the princely sum of $5 per year. By doing this you are supporting a great service and of course you can save your work, if you only use it once, its still worth it.
You can use this link to navigate to StackEdit, once you're there, you will see a simple 2 column layout, with the article editor on the left and the preview on the right. What's great about StackEdit is that it is real time and so as you add images and change text, you can check out your changes without having to wait for any rendering or loading times.
The first page you will see is a dummy article that gives you a basic tutorial, you can read that or you can delete it and start your own article. Better yet, you can go to the top right of the screen and click on the folder, that will give you the option to start a new article, that way you can keep the dummy, tutorial article should you need it..
On the left hand side, you will see a toolbar full of symbols, on top of the editor. These symbols will give you the effect you want, without having to add the code manually. If you don't know what a symbol means, then simply hover your mouse over it.
Once you're done you can save your work if you wish, and then simply copy your text from the StackEdit editor and paste into your Steemit post box. As before you will see a preview, situated below the box, so that you can make sure all the code has been called.
If there are mistakes in the code, mark where they are, go back to the editor, find the error and fix it there. Then copy and paste again. Unless the error is a simple one to fix and it is right at the top of your post, then do not use the Steemit post box to edit, life's too short.
Once you're done, submit your post to Steemit; the main thing to remember with StackEdit, is that it doesn't seem to work too well, when you mix manually added and automatic code together.
For example I wrote an article and instead of using the StackEdit toolbar to add a heading; like I had with other elements, I manually inserted the code, which was ####. However after copying and pasting into Steemit, the # symbol was still visible, which of course it shouldn't have been.
It may have been because StackEdit uses a different way to build its headers, or it could just be because it doesn't like processing manual and automatic code at the same time. If necessary experiment with it, by adding your own bits of code and then pasting it into the Steemit post box and previewing it before you submit.
So before posting, you don't have to remember every little point made, or reference this article every time you want to submit a post to Steemit. Just remember it's about using a good word flow and trying to keep the readers interest by breaking up patterns and not repeating phrases or words too often.
The more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I should have probably put something in there about using too long sentences, but I guess that would make me a hypocrite!
Make sure you check out StackEdit as it will make your life a hell of a lot easier; now go and write, wow your audience and power up your Steem!
Written with StackEdit.