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


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.

Gen­er­al points

Be clear

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: We use inclu­sive non-gen­dered lan­guage when­ev­er pos­si­ble, so make sure your pro­nouns and ref­er­ents match, except when you’re talk­ing about a sin­gu­lar per­son. Then use they,’ partner.

Be spe­cif­ic

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


Dos

  • 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’ts

  • 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.

For­mat­ting


Here is a break­down of how to approach the for­mat­ting of every­thing from abbre­vi­a­tions to zebras.

Abbre­vi­a­tions

YesNo
AKAaka or a.k.a
i.e.,ie or i.e.
PMPP.M.P.
GIF (And it’s pro­nounced with a hard G, dammit)gif

Acces­si­bil­i­ty

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.

Impor­tant

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.

Exam­ples

Active voice

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
Head­ing levelUsage
H1Arti­cle titles (use &’)
H2Sub­heads and sec­ondary head­lines (use and’)
H3 – H6Break your con­tent into small­er, more read­able chunks (use and’)

Con­trac­tions

Wher­ev­er pos­si­ble, we stick with infor­mal contractions:

Pre­ferredLess pre­ferred
don’tdo not
won’twill not

Gram­mar

YesNo
Apos­tro­phestis
the 80s
George’s sum­mer
Sev­er­al Georges
Delores’ purse
tis, tis, or tis
the 80s, the 80s, or the 80’s
Georges sum­mer
Sev­er­al George’s
Delores’s purse
Divide3 ÷ 535
Ellipses(three peri­ods)
Em-dash­esBeans — and I don’t mean green ones.Beans – and I don’t mean green ones.
En-dash­esDec 1st5thDec 1st — 5th
Minus3 − 53 — 5 (dash), 3 – 5 (en dash), or 3 — 5 (em dash)
Mul­ti­ply3 × 535, 3 X 5, or 35
Num­bered lists1.1 or 1.) or A.
Ordi­nals1st, 2nd, 3rd1st, 2nd3rd
Paren­the­sisWhen­ev­er pos­si­ble, put them inside a sen­tence (like a champ).Don’t sep­a­rate them. (Like this)
Plu­ral­iz­ing namesSein­felds
Bene­ses (add es’ when end­ing with s, x, z, ch, or sh)
Seinfield’s
Benes’
Ser­i­al com­mas (AKA the Oxford comma)George, Elaine, and IGeorge, Elaine and I

Lists

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.

Link­ing

A link should con­tain a com­plete con­tex­tu­al clue for what it is referencing.

Meta­da­ta

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.

Our house style

We’re stick­ing to our Cana­di­an roots, here, so jump in the canoe. We use Cana­di­an Eng­lish wher­ev­er pos­si­ble and ref­er­ence the Chica­go Man­u­al of Style. We use Urban Dic­tio­nary when­ev­er pos­si­ble. Just kid­ding. We use the Oxford Dic­tio­nary.

Punc­tu­a­tion

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.

Cita­tions

  • Books, major works, mag­a­zines, and news­pa­pers are ital­i­cized when not linked.
  • Arti­cles and short works are enclosed in quo­ta­tion marks when not linked.

Com­mas

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.

Quo­ta­tions

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.

Sen­tence case

For head­lines, we stick to sen­tence case. Cap­i­tal­ize the first let­ter of the first word, any prop­er nouns. That’s it.

Spelling

Cana­di­an spelling please.

Ter­mi­nol­o­gy

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.

Tech­ni­cal specifications

We use Mark­down as our markup language.

Word cap­i­tal­iza­tion

YesNo
inter­netInter­net
ecom­merceEcom­merce

Word choice

YesNo
emaile‑mail or elec­tron­ic mail
colourcol­or
sitemapsite map
web­siteweb site
wire­frameswire frames

Our tone


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.

More or less…

Read through our iden­ti­ty attrib­ut­es to get a bet­ter feel for how we show our­selves to the world.

Voice and tone guide

TypeMore likeLess likeNotes

Web content

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.

Email

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.

Course material

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.

Coax article

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.

Social media

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.

Tone attrib­ut­es

Bold

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.

Con­trar­i­an

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.

Curi­ous

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.

Dis­arm­ing

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.

Empa­thet­ic

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).

Grit­ty

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.

Play­ful

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.

Sharp

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.

Vis­cer­al

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.

Vul­ner­a­ble

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.

Our audi­ence


Project man­agers

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.

Free­lancers

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.

Stu­dio owners

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.

Images


  • 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?

CSSSVGPNGJPG
Best forGra­di­ents & sim­ple geo­met­ric shapesVec­tor-based illus­tra­tions, let­ter­ing, out­lined typeSim­ple bitmap images with few/​solid colours or trans­paren­cy, com­plex vec­tor-based images, screen­shots (with no photos)Pho­tographs, colour­ful bitmaps, rich illustrations
Ben­e­fitsSmall­est file size, no down­loads, infi­nite­ly scalableTiny file size, infi­nite­ly scalableTrans­paren­cy, poten­tial­ly small file size if optimizedBest file size and qual­i­ty for pho­tos and colour­ful bitmap images
Draw­backsCan be dif­fi­cult to gen­er­ate and use, lim­it­ed applicationOnly good for flat coloured-illus­tra­tions, files with sev­er­al bezi­er points can bal­loon in file sizeFile 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 screensLarge file sizes, has to be saved dou­ble size for reti­na screens
Pro­cess­ing tips & tools Gra­di­ent gen­er­a­tor, CSS shape generatorKeep the bezi­er points to a min­i­mum, size the art­board to the edges of the art­work, SVG export set­tings for IllustratorSave out at dou­ble the size it will be dis­played, always opti­mize with ImageAl­pha then Ima­geOp­timSave out at dou­ble the size it will be dis­played (2500px wide for full-width) at about 30% qual­i­ty, always opti­mize with Ima­geOp­tim

Author info


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.

Author pho­tos

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.