Editorial Style Guide
The Illinois Action for Children Editorial Style Guide is a reference summarizing standard writing conventions for the website.
This guide is not intended to be comprehensive rule book. It outlines basic information about the organization and offers general rules for writing in the context of the website. This guide includes a voice and tone template.
Background: About Illinois Action for Children
As a catalyst for organizing, developing and supporting strong families and powerful communities where children matter most, we believe that all children and their families, particularly those experiencing poverty, must have access to quality early care and education, and systems of family and community support that lead to success in school and in life.
Illinois Action for Children is a catalyst for organizing, developing and supporting strong families and powerful communities where children matter most.
Illinois Action for Children envisions a future in which:
- Children and families are a priority
- All children and families, especially those most vulnerable, have the opportunities and resources they need
- A broad-based coalition of public and private funders and collaborators support our Mission
- Our diverse and talented staff demonstrates on a daily basis that every action can change a life
- Illinois Action for Children. Formal, used more regularly in the “Who We Are” section and wherever referring to the organization as an entity.
- IAC. Informal, not commonly used, the formal is preferred.
- actoforchildren.com. Web domain, not to be used in any other capacity.
- Public Policy & Advocacy
- Early Learning Programs
- Resource and Referral Program
Messaging: Audience & Goals
The website serves four distinct groups, each with different needs but all share a common cause. Ultimately, providers, parents, and donors should be persuaded to become advocates as well, so this audience is inclusive of all visitors.
Motivate advocates to take legislative action and provide a central location for accessing advocacy resources and tools. Content will include:
- Information on the cause and legislative action
- Action alerts and news updates
- Upcoming events and community information
- Advocacy tools and resources
Child Care Providers & Educators
Connect providers with information and services they need for supporting their work. They will look for:
- Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) information
- Professional development resources
- Educational resources
- Research about early care and educational field
Parents & Families
Educate families about child care options. This group is sensitive to finding affordable child care. The look to IAC for:
- Help finding child care providers
- Information on help paying for child care (CCAP)
- Community resources and support programs
Donors & Funders
Inspire donors to support IAC’s work. This group is interested in improving communities. They are interested in:
- IAC success stories, history, and impact
- Demographics on who IAC serves, annual reports, financials, etc.
- Research on early child development
Appealing to the Audience
ETHOS – ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY. Illinois Action for Children’s reputation is built on their history, community involvement, breadth of services.
EMPOWERING – TAKE ACTION. Using action-oriented language and speaking directly to the audience to encourage action.
JUSTIFICATION – REASONS TO SUPPORT. The reasons why people rally to support IAC and their mission is grounded by research-based evidence.
- Strong families, powerful communities
- Our work is powered by our Theory of Change
- Where children matter most
- We are focused on the future
- We are non-profit, but not bare bones
- We are professional, but not corporate
- We create systems, but are still grassroots
- We are big thinkers, but also big doers
- We run a large state program, but we are also advocates for policy change at the state level
COMMON WORDS & PHRASES:
- Child Care
- Child Care Assistance
- Child Care Funding
- Child care providers
- Early Learning
- Early care and education
- Children and families (prefer to use together)*
- Infants and toddlers
* Use “children” and “families” separately when referring to specific programs or outcomes, but referring to “children and families” as a whole when speaking broadly about who Illinois Action for Children serves.
BLACKLIST / DO NOT USE:
- Day care or daycare
- Childcare (as one word)
- Poor children (prefer poverty: “children living in poverty”)
Style: Voice & Tone
GOAL: Speak clearly and confidently to child care providers and parents; inspire and inform advocates and donors. The voice should be…
- Positive. Optimistic about what is possible. Avoid negative language about poverty or “poor” children.
- Active. Encourage and motivate individuals to become advocates and take action.
- Empathetic. Speaking to the individuals using personal pronouns, and also choosing common language that is accessible to a wide audience.
PITHY & EMPATHETIC. Attention getting headlines and information summarized for quick scanning. Mix of short and longer sentences to create a visual rhythm. This style:
- Appeals to audience through compelling, positive, and inspiring language.
- Establishes trust through simple and straightforward statements.
- Avoids “marketing-speak”, embellishments, and dramatic claims.
- Personable and conversational while maintaining an authoritative tone.
Style Note: use contractions sparingly, detracts from impact. U
What Every Child Deserves
Working together, we can create a brighter future for children. Their success tomorrow depends on the educational resources they have today. We’re advocates for parents and child care providers, with the common goal to improve early education for those who need it the most.
CTA Button – [LEARN MORE]
Writing for the Web: Pages & Page Blocks
- Main content area – No word limit
- The page can be as long as needed.
- Use descriptive section headers to break up longer chunks of content and to introduce sub-topics (see design).
- Block quotes are a good visual break in the text.
- Side bars – 25-40 words
- Length of side bar should not extend much further than the body/main content area.
- Use side bar to feature images and videos associated with the pagecontent.
- Draw attention to calls-to-action (Contact Us, Apply, Search, etc) by placing them in the side bar.
- Side bars are good for related content that doesn’t go with the main content
- Use a short descriptive header
- Intro text – 50 words or less
- Pages built using page blocks should have a short intro paragraph saying what the page is about. Keep it short.
- Page blocks – 40 words or 250 characters
- Types of page blocks:
- Full width (no image)
- Media right/left blocks (image or video clip)
- Three-column block (may have image)
- Use descriptive headlines (except the full width block).
- Types of page blocks: