Writing a post

If you have been invited to contribute a post, read through these instructions.

To get to the post editing screen, follow these instructions:

  1. Log in using the username and password you registered previously. (There is a “log in” link in the blog’s footer.)
  2. At the top of the screen there will be a gray admin bar. Mouse over “New” and click “post” (not “page”).

When you are on the post editing screen, you will see many fields. You can ignore most of them, but pay attention to these fields:

  • Title. Give your post a short, descriptive, interesting title.
  • Body. Write your post here. There will be a formatting bar above the post box with tools for boldface, lists, inserting links, and so on. For tips on creating tables, inserting figures, and other advanced formatting, hover your mouse over the “help for contributors” link at the top of this page, then choose “Advanced editing tips.”
  • Categories. Ignore this field.
  • Tags. Use tags (instead of “categories”) to mark keywords. You want to use tags that have been used in the past (if possible); that way, the site can display “related posts” at the end of your post based on shared tags. Scroll down until you see the “suggested tags from…” field, and click “local tags.” Click on any suggested tags that seem relevant. Then, find the “Display click tags” box; click it to see a list of all tags currently in use on the site, and click any that seem relevant to your post.
  • Please ignore all other fields on the editing screen.

To save a draft so you can come back later, look for the “save as draft” button in the upper-right. To find your draft later, log in and come to the admin dashboard. Click on “posts” in the admin menu off to the left, then find your draft in the list of posts.

If you paste from Word, please send me an email asking me to check the underlying HTML before you publish. Word causes subtle but potentially important HTML problems, especially if you use tables or footnotes.

Please preview your post before submitting it. Look for the “preview” button in the upper-right. Clicking it will open a new window, where you can preview your post.

When you have finished writing your post, click on the “Publish” button to make your post live. (This button will say “Submit for review” for new or infrequent contributors; your post will go live after an administrator checks the formatting and such.) But please click on “preview” before submitting your post to ensure that everything looks all right.

If you need to edit your post after it has been published, please think twice. If your post just barely went live, you can safely edit it if you act quickly. If your post has been up long enough that people have probably read it, you shouldn’t make substantive changes to it. Instead, write the word “update” at the bottom in bold face, then state your change below that. This procedure prevents confusion among our readers.

Here’s a brief tutorial video if you would like further help: Writing and publishing posts.

For help inserting tables and pictures into your posts, read the advanced editing tips.