Free Movement contributor guidelines

Please email us before writing an article for submission as a blog post. It may be that a post on the proposed subject is already in the pipeline.Potential articles for Free Movement should be written bearing in mind the medium of communication. Writing for a blog on the internet is very different to writing for an academic journal or a formal legal document, for example.What follows are some of the things we almost always have to edit on submitted blog posts. We’d rather not have to edit them, so please try and follow house style. It makes our lives easier, saves you time and means you control more of the final version than if we have to do a lot of editing.

Overall approach

Pieces should generally be short, at no more than around 1,000 words, and should grab the attention of the reader at the start of the post.Our core audience is immigration lawyers. They are busy and don’t have much time on their hands. They want information provided as clearly, succinctly and easily to digest as possible. We are also read by migrants themselves, others affected by immigration laws, academics, students and policy makers.The regular Free Movement audience read the website because we provide useful and interesting information. Make sure you provide busy immigration practitioners with useful information and practical guidance, otherwise we are likely to reject your article. We try to be respectful of the time of our readers. Our best, regular contributors are very generous; they share their knowledge and experience for the good of others.You will need a good headline that is interesting, describes what the reader is going to get if they click a link to it in an email or on social media or on a search results page and which is also short. This is not easy but it is very important indeed. Headlines are what makes people read the full article. Or not, as the case may be.


Start your article by stating succinctly what it is about and how the development in question is important. Move on to describe briefly the development you are writing about, include a quotation or two if relevant and then end by providing some short commentary on the significance of the development. Or:
Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em. Tell ’em. Tell ’em what you told ’em.
Your first sentence needs to begin well, using words wisely and efficiently and getting to the point. Beginning an article with the words “Further to a judicial review challenge…” is not a great start, for example. Think of who has done what to whom, perhaps.Short sentences without subclauses and short paragraphs work best online and make more compelling reading. Short sentences without subclauses work best online. They make more compelling reading. A lot of sentences can be broken in two if you look hard enough.Make sure paragraphs are short. Too much continuous text looks bad online. Any more than three or four sentences is probably too long.Paragraphs can be broken up by quotes. We usually turn any quote of more than a couple of lines into what is called a block quote. The text is indented, in italics and has a line down the side.We try to avoid lists wherever we can. Lawyers, particularly immigration lawyers, love lists with bullets or numbers. Please try and use plain text where you possibly can. A short and simple list may sometimes be acceptable.We do use side headings for anything from a medium post upwards. Normally two or three side headings will be needed for a blog post of 750 to 1000 words. If writing a longer or more complicated article, more side headings can be used and different levels can be used: H1 is the blog title and then we can have some H2 headings and, sometimes, some H3 ones as well.

Style guide

Stop Using So Many Capital Letters. Unless it is a proper noun (an actual proper one), don’t use capitals. This is a big departure for many lawyers. You may think you know better but, we’re sorry, you don’t. It’s not a Reasonable Grounds decision. It’s a reasonable grounds decision, or even just a decision where context allows. They are not usually the Immigration Rules, they are just immigration rules. It’s not Guidance, nor is it it Policy. Nor are they Grounds of Appeal.Stop using acronyms. Just stop. Don’t use them. Ever. Just use the full name or phrase, or find a shorter way to say the same thing. We will edit these out whether you like it or not, and it is a waste of our time doing it. Even if you think you are Clever Using An Acronym (‘CUAA’) in inverted quotes and then repeating over and over again. It’s not the ECHR. It’s the European Convention on Human Rights or, if context allows, just the convention. This is partly just house style, partly that it is ugly and harder to read on the page, partly that ordinary readers struggle to follow acronyms and partly because we also know many readers skim articles and may well miss your initial explanation of the acronym and then have to scan back through the article to find it. We always try to be respectful of a reader’s time and make things as easy as possible for them.Don’t use jargon unless you absolutely have to for precise legal clarity. This means thinking carefully about what an ordinary non specialist person will understand and what words they would normally use and be familiar with. It’s the Home Secretary or the Home Office, not the Secretary of State for the Home Department (unless it is case name).We always try to link to earlier relevant Free Movement articles or to sources. Where linking to a Home Office policy, link to the preceding html (normal website) page, not the pdf of the policy itself. This is partly the etiquette of not accidentally causing someone to download a huge document and also because any new policy update will break the link if you link directly to the pdf.Don’t use underlined text for any reason.We do not indent or use italics other than for block quotes.Numbers are written as words up to and including ten. Numbers higher than ten, such as 11 and 12, should be written as numerals.If in doubt, have a look at a few blog posts on the website. If we don’t do it, it makes our lives simpler if you don’t either.

On publication

Articles are rarely published without revision. If you are working on a joint piece with colleagues, it is advisable to submit an early draft rather than going through several versions internally and then having to agree further edits from us.If your article is accepted for publication we will create a Free Movement profile for you that will allow the piece to appear in your name. As a contributing author you can add whatever biographical details you wish to your profile, including a photograph.By choosing to publish on the blog, non-exclusive copyright is transferred to the blog for the purposes of syndication and re-publication.
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