As a KnowLA writer, your job is to develop the entry or entries you've been assigned while satisfying both the length requirement and the deadline. Sounds easy, but we know it's not-even for experienced writers. In the hopes of facilitating this process, we've put together some general guidelines we hope you will follow.
- Basic Entry Information
- Entry Structure
- Entry Types
- Writing Style
- Basic Style Guide
- Technical Stuff
- Appendix A, Sample Summary Paragraphs
- Appendix B, Citation Guidelines
Basic Entry Information
KnowLA features entries of three different lengths: short (up to 500 words), medium (up to 1,000 words), and long (up to 2,000 words). Please keep in mind that KnowLA is intended to provide an introduction to, rather than the final word on, each topic. Viewers who want more information will likely turn to the sources you suggest.
Financially, you will be compensated as follows:
Short entry (up to 500 words): $50
Medium entry (up to 1,000 words): $100
Long entry (up to 2,000 words): $200
Please keep in mind that you will be paid once the entry has been completed and accepted by KnowLA for publication. We reserve the right to reject any entry that fails to meet KnowLA standards for comprehensiveness, readability, and originality.
Each entry you submit to KnowLA should consist of the following:
I. Summary Paragraph
It is extremely important that your entry begin with a three- to six- sentence paragraph outlining the significance of your topic. Explain why this person, place, event, etc., is important. The summary paragraph gives readers a preview of an entry's subject matter, so he or she can either delve deeper or go to a more appropriate entry.
For example, an article on Charles Darwin should not begin with "Darwin created controversy with the publication of Origin of Species," but rather with something like: "Naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) proposed the scientific theory that natural selection is the mechanism by which evolution occurs..." If you'd like to see more examples of appropriate summary paragraphs, please see Appendix A at the end of this document.
As you formulate the body of your entry, develop the ideas and issues raised in your summary paragraph. If you are writing an entry of more than 500 words, use brief subheadings that will catch a browser's eye and serve to break the material into logical, manageable sections. Text longer than about 250 words will be broken into several screens; subheadings help ensure logical breaks. A 1,000-word entry, for example, might include two to four subheadings.
In addition, identify potential cross-references or "links" with boldface. While writing on the Louisiana Purchase, for example, you could boldface the name Napoleon to suggest a separate entry on the French emperor. If there are cross-references that cannot be expressed within the narrative itself, you can list them at the end of your article under the heading "Other KnowLA Links."
Finally, please cite the references you use to write your entry with endnotes. While these endnotes will not appear in the online version of your entry, they will help us answer any questions that may arise.
III. Suggested Reading List
At the end of your entry, please provide a suggested reading list, comprising the most important and up-to-date print, video, or audio sources that readers might consult. For a short entry, please suggest 2-3 items. For medium and longer entries, include 4-6 sources.
IV. Related web sites
If you know of existing Internet sites (beyond KnowLA) providing additional-and reliable-information about your topic, please list them. Provide both the name of the site and the URL. It is essential that you review each external website to be sure that it is well conceived and well maintained. If there aren't reliable web sites, you need not include any.
V. Potential sources for images, audio, and/or video (if known)
While identifying appropriate images, audio, and/or video is not your job, we welcome suggestions about where such materials are located. Better yet, if you have such resources and are willing to share them, talk to our Media Editor, Andrea Ferguson, about how to send them.
VI. Your Name and Institutional Affiliation
Your name and institutional affiliation, if you have one, will appear at the end of the KnowLA entries you write. Please let us know exactly how you would like your name to appear. If you are not affiliated with any organization, you might want to identify yourself as an independent scholar.
While each entry is unique, many will fit into one of the following categories. If so, please make sure to include information we list at a minimum.
Give the individual's full name, and any relevant nicknames, followed by the years of his/her birth and death in parentheses. In the opening paragraph summarize the person's main occupation(s) and achievements. In subsequent paragraphs present such information as place of birth, parents' names, educational background, and names of spouse(s) and children. Concentrate primarily on a discussion of the person's career and significance within Louisiana.
If the individual is an artist or creator of some type, emphasize how certain works identify the author/artist as a Louisianan. When appropriate, explain how the artist's work was shaped by the region and/or influenced it. Address any themes or issues than run through this individual's work.
Discuss the organization's origins; purpose and mission; governing structure(s); and history, including its key leaders (past and present) and major achievements. If at all possible, identify the dates of the organization's founding and, when applicable, demise; include any controversies or difficulties in the course of its existence. List any related organizations or institutions, and explain where in Louisiana the organization was based and/or active. Be sure to convey the organization's significance on both state and national levels, if appropriate.
Be sure to provide the five "w"s: who, what, when, where and why. Give the origin, nature, and history of the event or movement; its location; important leaders or participants; the event/movement's significance; and key dates in its development. Whenever possible, link it to any broader movements or events in the state, region and/or nation.
Explain the historical significance of this place within Louisiana, the nation, and, when appropriate, the world. Discuss any relevant geographical, cultural, and/or historical boundaries. If your place includes built structures, consider its architectural style and details. Identify people, groups, events, movements, etc., linked with this place. Mention any pertinent demographic and/or geographic information and include noteworthy features. If the place no longer exists, explain how that came to be.
"Things" include both tangible objects like "crawfish" and "cotton" as well as intangible items like "folk music" and activities such as "shrimping." Discuss where the thing is/was produced and identify its historical, cultural, and/or economic impact. Consider its growth and development over time. Identify any individuals, organizations, events, movements, and/or places closely linked to the thing. When appropriate, place the thing in its regional, national, and/or international context.
While we hope every writer will bring his or her unique voice to KnowLA, we do want some consistency of style and tone. Our job will be easier, if you keep the following suggestions in mind:
- Lead with what makes your topic interesting and pertinent to Louisiana.
- While we want to encourage individual authorial voices, please write in a clear, accessible style, avoiding jargon and technical terms whenever possible. If you must use technical terms, define them immediately.
- Avoid long, complex sentences and long paragraphs-the average paragraph should be no more than six to eight sentences long. Remember, the typical KnowLA viewer is probably seeking a concise answer to a specific question.
- If possible cite an interesting anecdote or fact that illuminates your topic.
- If particular issues are controversial, present both sides while doing your best to stay objective.
- Provide information that represents the current state of scholarship and avoid relying on outdated sources.
- Avoid the passive voice and write in the third-person perspective.
- Use gender-neutral language as much as possible.
- Avoid the use of lengthy block quotations (longer than 100 words) within your entry
Basic Style Guide
KnowLA uses The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) as its guide to style. If you have questions about capitalization, punctuation, and/or citation format, please consult this reference or ask us. For your convenience, a very brief summarization of The Chicago Manual of Style guidelines for citation is included in Appendix B of this document. More generally, please adhere to the following "rules" as much as possible:
Titles and subheads should be typed upper- and lowercase (Like This and This), not in all caps (NOT LIKE THIS).
Use the serial comma (Tom, Dick, and Harry).
Do not abbreviate months or state names.
The state name of Louisiana is not required to follow the names of cities, towns, parishes, or other entities located within the state unless confusion is likely to arise.
For cities, counties, or entities located outside of Louisiana, the state name is always provided. This is true even for such well-known cities as "Chicago, Illinois," or "Los Angeles, California." The single exception is "New York City."
Use Arabic numerals for numbers above one hundred but spell out if less (e.g., ten men, 120 miles, 4,500 soldiers). Keep hundred, thousand, million, billion if they appear as whole numbers.
Insert a comma in multiple thousands.
There are no apostrophes in plurals of numbers & decades (1920s).
Spell out "the fifties" but 1850s is fine.
Avoid the use of slash in dates in text. Dates should be written out as follows: June 1994. June 14, 1994. June 14, 1994, through June 20, 1994.
Preferably give full names (and title or rank if appropriate) at the first mention. Subsequent references require only the last name. The first mention of former Louisiana governor "Edwin W. Edwards" would be spelled out, for example, while subsequent mentions could simply refer to "Edwards."
Commonly recognized personal titles may be abbreviated (Mr., Gov., and so on).
Insert space between 2 or 3 initials of a name (H. P. Long).
If at all possible, we prefer that you prepare and submit your entry in Microsoft Word format. Entries in Word Perfect are also acceptable. If you utilize another word processing program, please contact us.
In addition, before you submit your entry, please make sure:
- Automatic hyphenation has been turned off.
- Margins are set for left justification only.
- There are no headers or footers.
- Quotation marks and apostrophes are straight, not curly (not "smart quotes").
- You have allowed word processor to wrap the lines automatically, rather than hitting return at the end of each line.
- New paragraphs are indicated with an indentation or tab instead of a blank line.
- Block quotations are indented with the "indent" feature of your word processor.
Please save and transmit the article under the assigned title. You may submit the entry as an e-mail attachment or on a CD or DVD (primarily if you are including multimedia with your submission) labeled with the title of the article, your name, and the word processing program you have used. If you send a disk, enclose a hard copy of the article as well. In addition, please indicate whether you created the files on a PC or MAC.
If you are submitting images, audio, or video with your entry, please contact our Media Editor, Andrea Ferguson, to discuss appropriate formats and resolutions.
It is essential that we receive your entry by the agreed upon deadline. Because we will be dealing with hundreds of entries, we need to avoid receiving everything at the last minute and have scheduled deadlines accordingly. If you don't think you can meet the deadline, please think twice about accepting the assignment. If circumstances beyond your control make it impossible for you to meet the deadline, please contact us immediately. Repeated failures to meet deadlines may result in reassignment of the entry.
As you contract stipulates, entries for KnowLA must be original work and should not have been previously published. Please avoid following the content of other articles word for word--even if you wrote them. We want KnowLA to be a work of original scholarship, rather than a compendium of information already available elsewhere.
Plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated and will result in the contract with the writer being nullified. If you have any questions about the issue or originality, please don't hesitate to ask.
Thank you for agreeing to serve as a writer on this exciting project!
Appendix A, Sample Summary Paragraphs
Example 1. This introduction offers no clear definition of "agrarian movements" and provides no context for the topic in time or place. The reader only learns that the credo of being a successful farmer failed in the late 1800s.
Although American farmers have maintained an image as independent and self-reliant, they have sustained many interdependent relationships for equipment, horticultural supplies, transportation, marketing, and credit. Nevertheless, it had long been believed in this country that to be successful as a farmer, one had to have only common sense, a strong back, and a little luck with the weather. When this credo failed in the late 1800s, many blamed the middlemen.
Example 2. This introduction specifically identifies Fort Jackson and gives its location and a little of its history. However, the reader does not learn why it is important for her to learn about this site.
Established in 1917 as the Sixth National Army Cantonment and named for the President Andrew Jackson, this post in Richland County was originally called Camp Jackson. Army engineers selected the site for its sandy soil and year-round temperate climate. Columbia citizens raised money to buy the initial acreage. During World War I, it served primarily as a training ground for new soldiers.
Example 3. This first-person account is too informal; the reader does not know where the discussion will go or learn what the specific topic is. (And Sidney is misspelled. While LEH staff will carefully proofread entries, please try to be as accurate as possible.)
Black Arts/West, Part 1 -- A History
It all started when I saw a notice in the paper announcing auditions for "A Raisin In The Sun" being produced by Gene Keene at his Cirque Playhouse. The year was 1961. I had seen the movie version of Raisin with Sydney Poitier and said to myself, "I can do that!" despite the fact that I had no training or experience in theater! Little did I know.
Example 4. This example uses overly abstract and academic terms—all in one very long sentence.
Post-modern ethnography relativizes discourse not just to form-that familiar perversion of the modernist; nor to authorial intention-that conceit of the romantics; nor to a foundational world beyond discourse-that desperate grasping for a separate reality of the mystic and scientist alike; nor even to history and ideology-those refuges of the hermeneuticist; nor even less to language-that hypostasized abstraction of the linguist; nor, ultimately, even to discourse-that Nietzschean playground of world-lost signifiers of the structuralist and grammatologist, but to all or none of these, for it is anarchic, though not for the sake of anarchy but because it refuses to become a fetishized object among objects-to be dismantled, compared, classified, and neutered in that parody of scientific scrutiny known as criticism.
Example 5. The reader does not learn until the last sentence that this topic deals with Canadian festivals, although specific towns and/or cities are not named. The tone is too informal, and the reader does not know where the discussion will go or why it is relevant.
It's summer, time to enjoy long days and balmy nights. And time of course to head off to the hippest part of town for avant-garde theatre at the fringe festival. For artists, the play's the thing. For audiences, squeezed into tiny makeshift theatres or gathered under the summer sun, enjoying regional cuisine and sudsy drinks, the fringe is all about fun. The story of how this playfully anarchic theatric genre came to be dished up annually in extravagant portions to eager holiday-makers in cities across the country has a Canadian flavour.
Example 6. While this introduction offers intriguing information about Audubon, it does not specifically identify Audubon or provide a context for this biographical entry. A better introduction might read, "John James Audubon (April 26, 1785 - January 27, 1851) was an American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America."
John James Audubon
Although Audubon's observations of wildlife extended from Labrador to the Florida Keys and from New Jersey to the Missouri River country, his works are particularly rich in material gathered in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. During the years when these southern frontiers abounded in birds, he was able to compile an extraordinary record in paintings and journals.
Example 7. This introduction is comprehensive, fully identifies George Washington Carver and his historical and cultural importance.
George Washington Carver
Born a slave near the end of the Civil War, George Washington Carver (ca. 1865-1943) overcame numerous obstacles to achieve a graduate education and gain international fame as an agricultural educator, inventor, and researcher. Carver was born on the farm of Moses and Susan Carver in Diamond Grove, Missouri, and he and his brother Jim were raised by the Carvers after their biological mother, a slave on the farm, was captured by slave raiders. Neighbors quickly recognized Carver as an exceptional child with a gift for understanding the natural world around him. He could not attend Diamond Grove's whites-only public school, however. To further his education, Carver moved to nearby Neosho, only to be disappointed to learn that his teacher knew little more than he did. Going next to Fort Scott, Kansas, Carver began a lengthy odyssey in search of a good education.
Appendix B, Citation Guidelines
According to The Chicago Manual of Style, books, articles, newspapers, and web pages should be cited as indicated below.
Author's Last Name, First Name, Middle Name/Initial. Title of Publication. Publisher's City (note: include the state's postal abbreviation if the city may be unknown to readers or could be confused with another; not needed if the publisher's name includes the state name): Publisher, year of publication.
Brasseaux, Carl A. Creoles of Color in the Bayou Country. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994.
Billings, Warren M., and Edward F. Haas, eds. In Search of Fundamental Law: Louisiana's Constitutions, 1812-1974. Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, 1993.
Author's Last Name, First Name, Middle Name/Initial. "Title of Article." Title of publication volume or series in Arabic numerals no matter how they appear on the publication (Season or Month and Year of Publication): page numbers.
Dunn, Marie S. "A Comparative Study: Louisiana's French and Anglo-Saxon Cultures." Louisiana Studies 10 (Fall 1971): 131-69.
Newton, Lewis William. "Creoles and Anglo-Americans in Old Louisiana: A Study in Cultural Conflicts." Southwestern Social Science Quarterly 14 (June 1933): 31-48.
Author's Last Name, First Name Middle Name/Initial if article is attributed. "Title of Article." Title of Publication. Date of publication, page number(s).
Jones, Mike. "The Legend of Leather Britches Smith." Lake Charles American Press, May 23, 1993, p. 13.
For original content from online sources other than periodicals, include as much of the following as can be determined: author of the content, title of the page, title or owner of the site, URL.
Owens, Maida. "Louisiana's Traditional Cultures: An Overview." Louisiana Folklife Program. http://www.louisianafolklife.org/LT/Maidas_Essay/main_introduction_onepage.html
"Mardi Gras: It's Carnival Time in Louisiana." Louisiana State Museum. http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/mgras/mardigras.htm