Monday, May 23, 2005

Style and Substance: Using HTML Codes in Your Posts

HTML code lets us "dress up" our posts to make them easily understood, easily read, and to help the important elements stand out. The style you add to your text is only part of what you contribute when you post here, of course. The substance of your opinions, news, or review is the part that you form.

But using common style elements helps you fit your writing into the community here.

No Explicit URLs     800-character-long URLs are very annoying in a live-display environment, but even a relatively-short URL is less useful than a link. The link allows the reader to click (or not click) to open the cited location. And it's simple to do; just copy and paste this code, substitute "[URL]" with your URL, and change "[link words]" to what you want the link to say.
<a href="[URL]" target="new"/>[link words]</a>

Book Titles in Italics     Also, DVD titles, TV-show titles, etc. Italic (actually, emphasis) text helps the title of what you're reviewing or commenting on stand out from the body of your text. It's also a good idea to name the book and give the author's name somewhere in the first few paragraphs (although that is not a set style-rule). To italicize text, use this code, but change "[title]" to the title of the item you're writing about. Note: Book titles and author's names should be correctly capitalized. When in doubt, use the capitalization you see on the cover of the book.

Mark Short Quotes Properly     When you include a short quote from what you're reviewing, enclose it in double quotes. (The simple character from your keyboard (") is preferred to the fancy open- and close-quote marks supplied by some word processors.) Use the ellipsis (...) to mark where you have removed words or jumped over text.
Example: "The simple character... (") is preferred to... marks supplied by some word processors."

Set Off Longer Quotes     The threshold for a "longer" quote is subjective, but somewhere around three complete sentences, multiple paragraphs, or other substantial citations, you need to visually separate the quote from the text you have written. This is done with the citation, an indented section of text. To set off a quote in this way, use this code, with your quoted text in place of "[citation/quote]":


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