A handy guide for your content style and structure. Stick with it to shape your prose into a Louder Than Ten styled work of art: let’s create sharp content that will make our audience think, laugh, deconstruct, share, and read it over again.
Here’s a summary of how we guide our content both online and offline. A handy note: when in doubt, stick to the Chicago Manual of Style and memorize George Orwell’s simple guide to writing like it was your grandmother’s birthday. Combined, these make up our bible for Louder Than Ten content creation.
Our voice includes all of the ways we speak or interact with our audience in the digital and offline environment. It governs what we say like our word choice, our punctuation, and our paragraph structure. We’re a mouthful. At the same time, our content is direct, simple, and to the point. We stick to the grit and we mean it.
Get rid of all that jargon, trendy sayings like “tl;dr,” buzzwords, and pop culture references. Readers shouldn’t have to watch a cult classic, read an arcane text or celebrity gossip magazine, nor know the latest meme to understand the gist of your article. Psst: Make sure your pronouns and referents match, too, partner.
We don’t want to hear about ’that time you did that thing.’ We want to hear about the way you tore your blue shirt sleeve on the car door en route to your first design presentation and how your boss, Steve, let you borrow his—three minutes before you strode in the meeting with two buttons undone. Specificity lets us relive those moments with you. It’s a powerful sandwich.
Get to the point
You’re here to rip eyelids open—to say something original. To do that, you have to dive right in. Don’t waste time milling around your topic with long intros or slow anecdotes. Strike swift and to the heart. Write like you could die of tuberculosis tomorrow.
Write for your readers
Our audience hangs out in several different pools: the freelancer, digital PM, and agency pools, for example. Honour them by giving pertinent background information and relevant context. Like a friendly handshake; they’ll trust you and read on.
Use clear headlines
Flowers are cool, but flowery headlines are useless. Not only do they cloud the meaning of the content they’re meant to describe, but they’re lost in search engines and inaccessible at a glance. How can you say something punchy, but give it some teeth? Choose to write clear headlines over fancy ones.
Approved and unapproved content
- Fact check.
- Treat others with respect.
- Credit other people’s ideas.
- Check your sources. And vary them.
- Say something controversial or opinionated.
- Look for a new angle on an old topic.
- Don’t assume that because it’s on the internet, it’s the truth.
- Don’t link to click bait or reprints; find the original.
- Don’t write to enflame or defame.
- Don’t be wishy washy; say something!
- Don’t be boring or tame.
Here is a breakdown of how to approach the formatting of everything from abbreviations to zebras.
|AKA||aka or a.k.a|
|i.e.,||ie or i.e.|
|GIF (And it’s pronounced with a hard G, dammit)||gif|
Accessible content works for everyone. You have a responsibility to understand how to write it. For more on accessibility guidelines, get yourself familiar with WCAG.
Review image and alt tagging, headlines, and hidden text. These should be clear, relevant, and meaningful to all users. Alt-attribute text uses sentence-casing.
It’s not “our project was given the old one-two-kicked with a shoe.” Our subject comes first: “The gnarly haired CEO gave our project the old one-two-kick with a shoe.”; Only scaredy cats who are afraid to rumple feathers use passive voice. You’re brave. Say it directly.
Article titles, headlines, and subheads
For title, headlines, and subheads, stick to sentence case.
- Capitalize the first letter of first word and proper nouns
- No terminal punctuation unless it’s a question mark
- No serial commas for article titles; use ampersands (&)
- Serial commas for article headings; no ampersands
- If no serial comma, use ampersand in article headlines
|H1||Article titles (use ‘&’)|
|H2||Subheads and secondary headlines (use ‘and’)|
|H3 – H6||Break your content into smaller, more readable chunks (use ‘and’)|
Wherever possible, we stick with informal contractions:
|tis, ‘tis, or ‘tis|
the 80s, the ‘80s, or the 80’s
|Divide||3 ÷ 5||3 / 5|
|Ellipses||…||… (three periods)|
|Em-dashes||Beans — and I don’t mean green ones.||Beans — and I don’t mean green ones.|
|En-dashes||Dec 1st – 5th||Dec 1st – 5th|
|Minus||3 − 5||3 - 5 (dash), 3 – 5 (en dash), or 3 — 5 (em dash)|
|Multiply||3 × 5||3 x 5, 3 X 5, or 3 * 5|
|Numbered lists||1.||1 or 1.) or A.|
|Ordinals||1st, 2nd, 3rd||1st, 2nd, 3rd|
|Parenthesis||Whenever possible, put them inside a sentence (like a champ).||Don’t separate them. (Like this)|
Beneses (add ‘es’ when ending with s, x, z, ch, or sh)
|Serial commas (AKA the Oxford comma)||George, Elaine, and I||George, Elaine and I|
Ordered or unordered.
- Complete sentence? Apply sentence case.
- Full sentences begin with a capital and end with terminal punctuation.
- Incomplete sentences don’t have capitalization or terminal punctuation.
- For a sentence featuring two or more list items, end each (except the last) with a semicolon (;), add an “and” to the final item. Finish off with terminal punctuation.
A link should contain a complete contextual clue for what it is referencing.
Although it’s a good idea to be familiar with how metadata works, let us know and we’ll help you fill in things like your meta tags for your article.
Keep your sentence length as unique as your freckles. Mix it up. Avoid run-ons and take a good long breath between sentences. Use colons and semicolons sparingly; they’re jewels.
- Books, major works, magazines, and newspapers are italicized when not linked.
- Articles and short works are enclosed in quotation marks when not linked.
Stick with serial commas (they come before the “and” in the last list element) except in article titles. Article titles will take the ampersand and drop the serial comma.
Company & publication names
A name is your dignity. Pay attention, friend.
- Note how companies capitalize and refer to their own names in digital examples (watch for compound words and unique capitalizations).
- Don’t emphasize definite articles. E.g. It’s the Huffington Post, not The Huffington Post.
Use Chicago style to determine quotation rules.
- Periods go before quotations.
- Block quotes are for long passages.
- Double quotations are like air quotes: you don’t really “buy them” or they’re “special.”
- Single quotations are used for quoting quotations.
For headlines, we stick to sentence case. Capitalize the first letter of the first word, any proper nouns. That’s it.
Canadian spelling please.
Not everyone is familiar with the latest and greatest project management terminology. Be a charmer and link to something that gives people some background info.
We use Markdown as our markup language.
|e-mail or electronic mail|
How we say what we say. Our tone is our branding, our style, our sense of humour. It tells us when to joke and when to get serious. Wrap this approach around your writing and grow words with mighty wings.
Our Louder Than Ten tone is playful, punchy, and direct. We whip crunchy words into tart sentences like a classic rhubarb crisp. Unusual metaphors win—we’ll topple traditional cliches for creative word choices that make our lines come to life. Descriptive headlines announce a new thought or direction.
Voice and tone guide
|Type||More like||Less like||Notes|
Are you lost? This page is. We all get lost sometimes. But then we find our life preserver and a bottle of gin and things tend to get better.
Dead end. You’ve hit a 404 error.
Leave the technical jargon and talk like a human. Appeal to the softer side. Be honest.
Hey, it’s really great you reached out. Let’s chat and see if we can help you out. Which time works best?
Thank you for contacting us. Can we set up a meeting to talk about your goals and what you’re looking for? We'd really like to work together.
We're friendly and detached. We can't help everyone, but we're committed to help the people who are ready for change.
Why do you think project managers have such an important job to do?
Here’s a list of reasons project managers have such an important job…
We don't just wag our fingers like a dictator and tell the story. We unfold it by asking students deep synthesis driven questions so they can own the experience.
Projects fail. Hard. Wanna know why? Here’s a short lick of the project world underbelly. Surprise: we set ourselves up to fail.
Want to learn the secrets of project management? You won’t believe tales of how hard these projects failed.
We're not writing for PMI readers and we're not douche bags writing click bait. Our writers shout out feelings using their hearts and brains as megaphones.
Here’s a project plan template that’ll impress your mom.
Here’s a project plan template that will impress the boss.
Who cares what people think? Love your mothers and speak your minds. The future of work won't leave room to impress our bosses.
We’re not afraid to make strong statements. We don’t shy away from the tough conversations, the controversy, or calling out stinky piles of bullshit. We hold people and their assumptions under the light and we ask questions.
We’re marching against the herd. When others say that ‘seven things’ article headlines are the best way to get our content noticed, we say: ‘Forget click bait. We’ll write better, thank you very much.’ We’re digging up the earth and churning it through our fingers. We’re challenging stuffy rhetoric and demanding better answers.
Why. We always ask it. And then we ask again. We ask so many questions and explore every fold that nothing ends up the way it started. It’s an analysis of human nature and we never shy away from reaching deeper to pull meaning out of our social situations.
We care, dammit. We want to know about you and what matters to you. We’re laid back and put you at ease with a sense of compassion and a nose for humour that changes from dry to wet faster than you can put on your galoshes. You hardly know what to expect, but you adore every minute of it.
Emotional intelligence is our calling card. We don’t leave home without clearing our schedules and our ears. We are all yours, and mutually our hearts sit in the same place (left side, kind of above the liver).
We like to sift stories out of the dirt. How are firefighters like project managers? What can we learn from organized drug cartels regarding their organizational structure? Why is our industry ruled by fear and how we do become better together? We’re pointing at things cloaked in the dark, and we’re playing a new side of this story.
We’ll tug your ear or your leg and give you a light hearted chuckle. We poke fun at ourselves and everyone else, and we do it to show the absurdity of who we let ourselves become if we don’t. We tell jokes when it’s warranted and play with words like they are laser pointers.
Laser beams straight to the eye. We’re focused and present our points clearly. The only garnish is the fun and it accents our points to make them more salient.
You should feel the way we talk. It should cut through the air like a hot knife through jello. We want to etch an image to the base of your skull right where your optic nerves zap your occipital lobe.
Our bellies are exposed. We have nothing to hide. We write from the heart and we tell the truth. We trust you; we know you are flesh and blood human and have made mistakes like we do. We want to talk about all the things we are, or wish we were, and find out how to make a community out of the goodness that we bring to our tables. We need your help.
Digital PMs are the glue in our creative studios. They keep the clients happy, the team together, the bills paid, and the weekends clear. These are the unsung heroes that support our organizations, ask for no credit, and rarely get recognition. We love our DPMs and want to give them the voice, the support, and the shared experiences they’ve long deserved but didn’t know where to find.
If you run solo, you are your own project manager. Freelancers know more than anyone that creative work doesn’t pay the bills on its own. They know their craft too, but when it comes to the hard parts—running a successful and profitable practice—it’s difficult to find the right resources. We want to hear from real people struggling and succeeding in human ways that don’t claim to know all the answers. Wearing so many hats is tricky, but our job is to create a community of support to help each other.
Good business owners are sick of cheesy business books written by self-appointed, self-promotional marketing gurus telling them to ‘Crush it’ or ‘Level up’ or ‘Dominate’ their golden circles. They support solid, sustainable work done well and with integrity. A studio should be a creative place that takes care of its employees, cares about its clients, and produces great work. Our business owners are the key to helping our industry get better by running respectful businesses on their own terms, not to win awards they had to pay for.
- Minimum width: 2000px wide
- Minimal photo treatments (AKA no preset filters)
- Illustrations should be vector format, if not: 2500px wide
- Final screenshots: must be on a Mac Retina screen. Don’t have one? Send us the source files and we’ll look after it.
- PNG, GIF, SVG, and JPEG are all acceptable submission formats.
- We’ll look after optimizing your images.
- If you’re a designer, composite images are great. But we’ll be the quality judge.
- Don’t add any watermarks, trademarks, or logo marks on your images. We’ll reject them.
- Please make sure you’ve got the right copyright licence for images and photos that you’re licensing. If there’s an image you’d like us to use, send us the URL and we’ll look into it.
- Please send us the attributes links and author references from Flickr or other photo commons.
What format should I use?
|Best for||Gradients & simple geometric shapes||Vector-based illustrations, lettering, outlined type||Simple bitmap images with few/solid colours or transparency, complex vector-based images, screenshots (with no photos)||Photographs, colourful bitmaps, rich illustrations|
|Benefits||Smallest file size, no downloads, infinitely scalable||Tiny file size, infinitely scalable||Transparency, potentially small file size if optimized||Best file size and quality for photos and colourful bitmap images|
|Drawbacks||Can be difficult to generate and use, limited application||Only good for flat coloured-illustrations, files with several bezier points can balloon in file size||File size can get huge if contains several colours or gradients, requires third-party optimization to get best file sizes, has to be saved double size for retina screens||Large file sizes, has to be saved double size for retina screens|
|Processing tips & tools||Gradient generator, CSS shape generator||Keep the bezier points to a minimum, size the artboard to the edges of the artwork, SVG export settings for Illustrator||Save out at double the size it will be displayed, always optimize with ImageAlpha then ImageOptim||Save out at double the size it will be displayed (2500px wide for full-width) at about 30% quality, always optimize with ImageOptim|
Author bios & photos
Don’t forget to include your author bio and photo with your final draft. Keep your bios short and punchy, between 50–60 words max. We’ll need your Twitter handle, personal site, and any other relevant links you want us to include.
Your author photos should look polished—your personal style is up to you. We’ll edit them into black and white images, so please send them as untouched files with a minimum size of 1000px × 1000px.