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Style Guide

This document is intended to guide Perl.com authors in producing articles that are consistent with the aims of the website. None of this is set in stone - great writing should always prevail.

Goal

We aim for reasoned, insightful, professional writing with a lighthearted bent.

Politics / Tone

  • We are pro: Perl, Open Source and free software
  • No rants or "hit pieces"
  • Reasoned criticism is fine

Language

  • American English
  • Approximately 300-1,000 words per article
  • Simple English (use hemingway to help)
  • Prefer the first-person and avoid the passive voice

Conventions

  • When mentioning Perl modules for the first time provide a link to the module on metacpan, thereafter refer to them in plaintext, do not quote them (e.g. Data::Dumper).

  • Code should be formatted inline as code or in:

    code blocks

  • Use header 3 for subtitles and header 4 for sub-subtitles (this might change.

Tips

These are things I've learned along the way that can have improved my writing. Older articles on our website don't necessarily follow these, but would be better off if they did.

  • Don't start an article with a justification: "I thought it would be interesting to take a look at ...". You can nearly always delete paragraphs like these. Assume that what you're writing about is interesting, you don't need an introductory paragraph.
  • Research your claims. If you are unsure about the behavior of a module or a function, go read the docs, experiment with it yourself until you are sure. Your knowledge may be out of date.
  • Emphasis is rarely needed
  • Delete unnecessary words. Adverbs are a good place to start: "I was very disappointed" -> "I was disappointed". This goes for code too. Only show what you need to show to communicate your point, big blocks of code are hard to follow
  • Try to avoid comments in code: that's what the article text is for!
  • Use sub headings to divide an article into manageable, logical pieces
  • Tell stories: "This week at work I was struggling with x, here's how I figured it out" is a more interesting beginning than "If you run into this problem here's what to do"
  • Know your audience: are you writing for experienced Perl programmers or beginners? One group needs much more explanation and simplification than the other. This applies to your code too: for beginners several code statements are clearer then interconnected join map split expressions.
  • Be enthusiastic, humble, honest, and acknowledge others' work

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