General Guidelines

This is general information that applies to all assignments.

Please all see the Livability Assignments or Economic Development Assignments pages for segment-specific audience, content and assignment information.

Inform, educate and entertain readers with content that is compelling and relevant to our segments' target audiences. Learn more about our segments at

Conversational, active, lively; authoritative but never dry


  • For both types of projects, avoid writing in the passive voice whenever possible.
  • Follow all rules established by Associate Press Style (AP Style). Check the JCI Style Guide for nuances.
  • Write in the third-person, present tense (i.e. end quotes with "he says," not "he said.")
  • Structure feature articles as a story with a clear beginning, middle and end.


Pay attention to web content dates. Gather source contact information and verify with them any information you plan to use. Do not lift copy verbatim from websites.


  • Writers represent JCI when making calls and conducting interviews. Please communicate with clients and sources professionally.
  • If you find a good source of photography on the topic – online or by speaking with someone – be sure to note that information in the "Creator's Notes" field of the CCS article submission form. If someone wants to submit a photo, please email the person who sent you the assignment (Assignment Editor). They will forward it to the correct person.
  • Quotes should always be additive, meaning they should share an insight or opinion


    1. Vague quotes
    Example: "This is a great town," says Mayor John Doe.2. Quotes that merely restate something presented in the story
    Active types are always on the go in Mytown, Tenn., which has a host of recreation venues ranging from skate parks and swimming holes to soccer complexes and walking trails.

    "We really have a lot of different options for physical activity," says Parks and Recreation Director Jane Doe.

    3. Quotes that only state a fact or set of facts
    "We've just added a cardiac care wing and new non-invasive screening technology," says Anytown Memorial Hospital CEO Jim Smith.


We are now publishing content online before print, so the following items are important:

  • Write for SEO. You must have at least a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices and use them in writing subheads, web headlines and copy. See the RESOURCE LINKS section (upper right of this page) for links to tips on writing for SEO.
  • Organize the story with subheads. See the JCI Style Guide for more information, if needed.
  • Embed relevant links into your copy. See the JCI Style Guide for more information, if needed.
  • Whenever possible, keep the information in each article timeless, avoiding phrases such as "last summer," "next year," etc. and instead using specific dates, such as "spring 2007." Before writing dated information into a story, consider other ways you could serve the reader with this type of information.
    Example: In a story about a major museum, instead of including a paragraph in the copy listing exhibit titles and dates (that will quickly become outdated), it would be better to give a synopsis of the types of exhibits typically presented there, then follow that description with a link to a full schedule on the institution's Web site. It keeps our content relevant to the reader, and having the link there provides them a direct route to the most up-to-date information directly from the museum.


  • When you review your work before submitting, double-check the content against the questions outlined in "CONTENT OBJECTIVES" for Livability or Economic Development. Does your copy answer these questions?
  • Fact-check your work before submitting. Writers are expected to verify all information presented in articles and provide the sources of that verification to Journal editors. Articles will not be further fact-checked by JCI editors.
  • Do not include CQs in your copy. Proofreaders will review the copy for spelling and grammar, but will assume you've checked all facts (names, numbers, addresses, etc.)
  • Double check subheads for search engine optimization and bold type.
  • Double check hyperlinks to ensure they are accurate and open a new window.

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