Authors interested in contributing a post to the Houghton Library Blog should refer to the guidelines below. If you have any questions, please email the blog editor.
Proposing a Blog Post
Step 1: Fill out the Blog Post Proposal Form
The form asks for information such as what collection you wish to write about, the type of post you want to write, and general ideas for the topic you want to address. Filling out the form will help you clarify what you want to say and should give you ideas about what images you would like to use.
Once you submit the form, a Houghton Library Blog staff member will respond to you shortly. They may ask for clarification or offer suggestions for tweaking the topic slightly; at this time, you’ll also receive instructions and a proposed deadline for submitting the post.
Step 2: Writing Your Blog Post
- Posts are typically between 500–1,000 words, but your subject matter and approach should dictate the length.
- Establish your point quickly:
- Your title should capture interest and provide descriptive details (for example, “‘When the bird and the book disagree, believe the bird’: Variations of the Raven in Three Editions of Audubon’s Birds of America” has a catchy quote and gives some indication of what the post will explore).
- The introductory paragraph should lay out the stakes of the post, providing not just what you are writing about but why it is important.
- Write your post for an intellectually curious but wide-ranging audience:
- Introduce and explain your subject—it’s best not to assume reader familiarity.
- Avoid abbreviations and jargon whenever possible; if you want to use an abbreviation, write the name out in full and then put the abbreviation in parentheses: “According to the Society of American Archivists (SAA)”.
- Explain technical or discipline-specific terminology (for example: “These works aided young readers with scansion, the act of determining the meter in a line of verse”).
- Make sure you have obtained copyright permissions for images when required.
- Don’t embed images directly into your draft; rather, indicate where in the text they should go (i.e., Insert picture1.jpg here)
- Write a caption for each image, including the call number and the Hollis record permalink.
Step 3: Submitting Your Post
Once you are satisfied with your draft, send an email to your editor with the following attachments:
- The text of your post in a .docx file;
- Your images, ideally in .tiff, .jpg, or .jpeg format. Be sure that the resolution of your images is 72 pixels/inch.
Your editor will be in touch should any questions arise, or to request additional editing.
Style and Formatting
The Houghton Library Blog uses the style and formatting conventions specified by Harvard Library Communications.
Harvard staff and students may also wish to consult the Harvard University Style Guidelines (requires login with HarvardKey).
Please pay particular attention to the following:
- Blog posts require shorter sentences and paragraphs than standard academic writing; try to keep paragraphs between 3-6 sentences.
- Use direct, active phrasing and avoid passive voice (i.e., “I examined four statues” instead of “four statues were examined by me”).
- Use first person (“I”, not “the author of this post”).
- If you need to cite something, cite parenthetically (no footnotes or endnotes, please).