Powerbase:How to Structure an Article
Articles should give enough information on a person or group so that a person who knows nothing about them can come away informed. Try to write a profile clearly and logically, including background information, funding, current activities and information on key personnel, if it is an organization. Break the article down into sub-headings that are not sensationalist but that summarise some of the issues in that section.
Please avoid over-long sentences and huge swathes of unbroken text. Include plenty of paragraph breaks. Don’t forget to reference (See A Guide to Referencing).
What to include in your article
If you submit a new article through the "Article Submission" system, you will automatically be provided with a list of subheads that suggest areas you can include in your article. You don't have to stick to the given subheads - you can substitute your own as needed for the article you want to write.
Equally, you don't have to write about every area suggested by the subheads. In other words, don't avoid writing an article just because you don't have information on all the areas. In such a case, you can leave 'empty' subheads in place for other writers to address.
Articles about organizations
Suggestions for what to include in articles about organizations are:
- Basic description: a brief summary of the organization's mission, history and activities.
- History: a chronological listing, including the date the organization was founded (and disbanded), along with highlights of activities in which the organization has participated. If an activity warrants more description than you can summarize in a few sentences, create a separate article about the activity using the guidelines below.
- Personnel: a list of individuals, past and present, who are either paid employees of the organization or who have collaborated with it on an ongoing basis.
- Funding: a list of foundations and other institutional funders that finance the organization's activities.
- Case studies: a list of examples of instances in which the organization has engaged in misleading research or other manipulations of information.
- Contact information: Address, telephone, email, URLs and any other information that can be used to contact the organization itself.
Articles about people
Each article about a person should use his or her full name as the page title. Do not use honorary titles or nicknames as page titles. In other words, the page should be titled "Jane Smith", not "Baroness Smith of Brent Cross" or "Jane 'Scally' Smith". The place to include honorary titles and nicknames is in the introductory paragraph, e.g.
- Jane Smith, known as Jane 'Scally' Smith, is a Labour Member of Parliament who was created Baroness Smith of Brent Cross in 2004.
Suggestions for what to include in articles about people are:
- Date of birth and date of death (if applicable).
- Relationship to organisations: a list of organisations for which the person has worked or with which he or she has been affiliated. If possible, include dates of employment, salary information, and job titles.
- Relationship to funders: a list of foundations and other institutional funders that finance the individual's activities.
- Case studies: examples of instances in which the individual has engaged in misleading research or other manipulations of information. Ideally, each case study should consist of a brief description with a wiki link to a separate article providing further details.
- Contact information: address, telephone, email, URLs and any other information that can be used to contact the individual.
Introduce your subject
When starting a new article, establish context at the start of the page. Each article should begin with a brief (one- or two-sentence) general description of the individual, organization or topic. If possible, tell the reader why this person or group is in Powerbase. The reader should be able to tell from your introduction whether this article is relevant to their interests and whether they want to read on.
- The Joe Bloggs Institute is a London-based think tank that has come under criticism for its lobbying activities on behalf of polluting industries.
- Jane Smith is a British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who was at the centre of an expenses scandal in 2002.
The first mention of the person, organization or topic (which should match the article title) should be enclosed in a pair of square brackets: [[Jane Smith]]. This will automatically embolden the text. For subsequent mentions, do not use square brackets.
Put quotes in context
Avoid beginning an article or section by going straight into a quote. Lead in to your quote and put it in context, telling readers who is speaking/writing, who this person is, what they are talking about, and how it relates to your article. All this gives readers a clue as to what they are expected to draw from the quote. At the end of the quote, sum up what they should have learned, give a point of analysis, and/or lead in to the next piece of information. This is called "foregrounding" and "concluding" the quote.
Here's an example of a quote that has been put into context.
- Joe Smith of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex provides a striking example of the unscientific nature of some of biotechnology advocate Jim Bloggs's claims. In his report "GM Crops and Poverty Alleviation in Africa", Smith notes:
- Another surprising example of advocacy trumping facts is Jim Bloggs, the influential biotechnology advocate who has advised the US Trade Representative. Bloggs has repeatedly cited GM sweet potatoes in Kenya as a positive example of the benefits of GM for African countries, but has confessed to having no knowledge of the results of scientific trials in Kenya.
- Other aspects of Bloggs's campaigning raise serious questions over the accuracy of the information on GM that he puts out to the public ...
The lead-in to the quote tells the reader what to look for, while the conclusion to the quote confirms what the reader has learned and links to the next piece of information.
Avoid over-long quotes
It's best to avoid very long quotes. Readers lose their way and don't know what they are supposed to draw from them. You can, however, split up a longer quote into sections of meaning, guiding readers through each section and making clear what they are supposed to draw from it.
Never make an entire article or section consist of a quote. It leads to confusion about who is speaking (the author of the Powerbase article or the person quoted) and readers will get lost.
Often, sections of your article such as "People", "Funding", "Clients", and "Publications" will consist of lists of people or organizations. Please follow Powerbase formatting conventions for lists in order to keep them tidy and readable.
Give the new page a category
Before you save your new page, remember that all new pages/articles on Powerbase should be included in a category. This makes using Powerbase easier, makes it possible to find all pages on a topic in one place, and helps to avoid problems with duplicate pages being created.
To put your page into a category, add the coding [[Category:name of relevant category]] at the bottom of the page you are creating. For example, [[Category:PR Industry]]. When saved, this will appear as a link at the bottom of the page. Choose from the Powerbase list of categories.
Stub pages are articles that currently have little content, but that through the ongoing work of their creator and the collaboration process grow over time into longer articles. Stub pages are noticed and picked up by search engines, and thus attract new readers and new contributors. Please show tolerance for stub page creation and feel free to add to, edit and generally enrich the stub page. Today's stub page acorn is tomorrow's big oak.