Hello, everyone! My name is Sarah Fields and I'm the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the Odyssey community at Murray State University (MSU). I have been writing with Odyssey since 2015 and I've had a blast. However, the standards for Odyssey and packaging articles for the site keep changing, leaving new writers and creators to base their brand new pieces off of pieces that may not have the correct formatting. Heck, even Odyssey's "The Ultimate Guide To Being An Odyssey Creator" is not up to date. Below is how to properly write, format, and package your articles for Odyssey:
1. Before you do anything, download/create a free account with Grammarly
The best thing to do is to get a Chrome extension for Grammarly. As you type, it'll detect mistakes in grammar and spelling and suggest ways to correct them. However, with any software, it's not completely fool-proof, so you'll still have to properly proofread and rough-edit your pieces for grammar and spelling mistakes.
2. Correctly categorize your piece as either an article or a listicle
This section will show up in the "begin" tab. This will help Odyssey make place your piece in the correct category on their website.
3. Always have an introductory paragraph before you start your points if you're writing a listicle.
This will introduce the idea of your piece to the readers.
4. On listicles, place an image/gif underneath each point, as well as a small paragraph below that.
If the listicle is long in length, make sure at least half of the points have an image/gif and a small paragraph below them. You can retrieve gifs from GIPHY or Tenor. An example of that is all throughout this piece.
5. All headers (points) should be in the format "Header 2"
I repeat: ALL POINT SHOULD BE IN THE FORMAT HEADER 2. Not bolded, not in ALL-CAPS, just Header 2. An example of that is throughout this entire piece.
6. For any images or gifs used within the piece, you MUST have an attributing link for it and it MUST be centred.
You can do this by inserting the image, clicking on the image, clicking Edit, then paste the attribution link into the linked site and click the drop-down menu under alignment and click "Center." If the image is yours, it still needs a link (unless it's a screenshot, but even then there's a line for that. For this piece, all screenshots are made from my own account so I don't need one).
7. For non-listicle pieces, the piece should have at least 500 words.
This is the size of a standard essay. It's not hard to write 500 words (especially if you know the topic well enough), and if you can't get 500 words in, then I would expand your knowledge on the topic.
8. Every single fact you write in a piece needs to have proof.
The best (and most acceptable) way of citing your sources is to copy the link to your source, go back to your article, highlight a phrase that introduces the fact, click on the chain-link symbol at the top of your piece, click "insert link," then paste your link and click "open in new tab." There are no "work cited" pages with Odyssey, so this is the best way to do it.
9. Always conclude your piece
This just ties everything together and waps up your piece.
Now that we have the actual formatting of the piece out of the way, now it's time to package your piece:
10. Your headline needs to have the first letter of every word capitalized.
Model your headline after the headline for this piece. The subheading does not have to have every word capitalized. You can write that like a normal sentence.
11. Your cover photo must be formatted a certain, very specific way.
Below are the guidelines for the photo:
- It must be 1200 x 1200.
- It must not have words in the photo or gifs as the photo.
- If you are using a non-royalty-free photo, it MUST have an attributing source and you must have permission to use it!
12. You need to have at least 10 relevant tags on your piece
It was originally three, but I find that ten tags really help in finding your piece.
13. Put your piece in the correct category.
The categories for your pieces are 500 Words On, Adventure, Humor, Ideas, Lifestyle, Scene, Sports, The List. If you click on the plus sign beside it to see how Odyssey wants you to format and categorize your piece.
14. Put your piece in the correct subcategory
This is basically to help place your piece in the correct location. Base your subcategory on the contents of your piece.
15. Metadata Title and Metadata Description. What are these for?
These are for SEO purposes. All you need to do is put your headline and subheading in those spaces. That'll do just fine.
16. Choose an available slug
Your slug should not have a number in it, but the first available one should be good to pick.
17. Write your social brief, and schedule shares
This is the easiest part. All you have to do is write a small description in your social brief, then schedule shares on Facebook or Twitter.
There you have it! This is a simple but easy process to writing your piece and packaging it in a way that Odyssey will accept and that will optimize your shares, reads, and comments.