Writing for Clio and the Contemporary: Design Principles and Guidelines

Clio and the Contemporary follows the principles of design laid out by Robin Williams and John Tollett in The Non-Designer’s Web Book, and expounded on in the context of digital history by Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig in Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. (You can read more about the principles of alignment, proximity, repetition, and contrast in their chapter on Designing for the History Web.) Here, we explain how to use these best practices on our site to ensure readability and internal consistency.

  • We encourage you to include section headings, hyperlinks, images, and videos, which make your article more visually appealing and interactive for readers.
  • Always use the hyperlink function rather than pasting a url into the text. To use the hyperlink, simply highlight the text, click “Link” in the box that appears to the right of Bold and Italics, paste the link into the space provided, and click the arrow for “Submit.”
  • As with academic writing, indicate emphasis with italics, not bold or underlined text. Feel free to use bold text to illustrate a principle or main idea within a list. See, for example, this post, in which the bold text acts as section headings. Our site does not use underlined text (which is reserved for hyperlinks) in any post. Strikethroughs can be used sparingly in conversational “how to,” opinion, and advice pieces.
  • Lists are good! Because our eyes prefer white space to endless text, readers prefer short paragraphs to long paragraphs and lists to paragraphs, so whenever you have the chance, break a longer paragraph down into smaller paragraphs, and incorporate bullet or numbered points. Similarly, feel free to use the “Quote” option to insert select quotes between paragraphs. (The paragraph, quote, and heading options can be found by highlighting any text while in draft mode.)
  • Our site will automatically provide you with a pre-formatted post, so you don’t have to worry about margins and we ask that you avoid experimenting with the alignment options. If any paragraph indentations traveled with your text from Word to the post, please manually deleted them. The norm for web content is to separate paragraphs with white space between paragraphs rather than paragraph indentations. Please create paragraph breaks by simply hitting “Enter” or “Return” and creating a new block for each paragraph.
  • The site will also automatically convert your text into a singular font that is the same across all posts, so you don’t need to worry about font selection or size when writing paragraphs or lists.
  • You will, however, need to manually create headings. We prefer the bolded “paragraph” text to “headings” text, and ask that you follow these guidelines to ensure consistency across the site. A post with section headings should look like this:

Section 1

Section 1 content

Section 2

Section 2 content

  • These section headings are simply bold “paragraph” text. If your post requires sections and sub-sections, please use bold text for sub-sections and create section headings by using bold and underlined text. So, your post would look like this:

Section Heading

Sub-section heading


Thank you for following our design guidelines! Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns while posting!

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