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.
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.
Overall approachPieces 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.
StructureStart 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.