The Huffington Post - Editorial Style Guide

Overall Style and Tone

Articles on The Huffington Post are generally written using an informal writing style.

This means writing in a conversational fashion rather than the more formal style you probably learned at school. In most cases you should also:

  • State your point early in the article
  • Use casual, familiar language (i.e. don't use big words to sound clever!)
  • Write in clear, direct and succinct sentences
  • Avoid writing in a manner that is intellectually showy or arrogant
  • Try to integrate your personal writing voice (e.g. dry, sarcastic, passionate, etc.)

Article Format

Popular articles on The Huffington Post fall into two categories: Lists Posts and Essay Posts.

Here are two examples (list post on the left – essay post on the right).

Editorial Style Guide - 1

List Posts

List Posts are just that – articles comprising a short or long list of points.

They may be formatted with numbers or bullet points, but either way, they are tremendously popular among readers of The Huffington Post (and indeed the internet as a whole.)

In fact, for most sections, at least 50% of the published articles are list posts and in some sections as many as 80% of the articles are list posts.

Here are some tips for writing list posts:

  • Start each point with a pithy summary of the point itself. In the final article, this will usually appear in bold.
  • Put your strongest points at the start and end of your list. It will make your article more appealing to people who quickly scan the points before reading it in full.
  • If you have longer and shorter points, try to mix them up to create variety on the page.

Essay Posts

Essay posts are more freeform in nature but tend to have a logical flow, with each paragraph leading naturally from the last.

Essay posts can also take advantage of elements such as subheadings, blockquotes, inline images, and even embedded lists to organize their content.

Structurally, essay posts tend to have a recognisable beginning (opening or introduction), middle and end (closing or conclusion).

Here are some tips for writing essay posts:

  • Make sure you open strong. Readers will use the first few sentences to decide whether they will read the whole article. Consider using the opening styles illustrated in the 9 Successful Post Types You Can Copy guide included with this toolkit.
  • Keep your paragraphs short. Popular posts average three sentences per paragraph.
  • End with a "call to action." In the conclusion to your post, encourage the reader to take some positive step. For instance, if you've given them a list of tips, prompt them to put some of the tips into practice.

Article Length

The Huffington Post requests articles in the 500–1,000 words range.

In practice, the average length of the popular posts in most sections is around 1,000 words, except for Travel, which is around 600 words (compensated by the inclusion of images).

Subheadings

Subheadings are the smaller headings, beneath the main headline, which break up the article into labeled sections.

Some list posts use subheadings, instead of bullets or numbers. This tactic usually works best when you want to format each point into two or more paragraphs. Here's an example:

Editorial Style Guide - 2

Essay posts sometimes use subheadings to label a sub-section of the post, like this:

Editorial Style Guide - 3

In practice, less than 10% of the popular essay-style articles at The Huffington Post include subheadings. However, they can be a powerful tool for holding your reader's attention so consider using them if they suit your article.