MuckRock Style Guide

MuckRock uses the Associated Press Stylebook unless otherwise noted below.

  • Abbreviations Follow the first mention of an agency with the appropriate abbreviation in parentheses. Very commonly known agencies, such as the FBI and CIA, do not need their names included in parentheses after first reference.
  • Attribution If a non-staff MuckRock user's request is used in an article, they must give written permission (an email is fine), and attribution should be made within two sentences of when the material they requested is first referenced. If the entire story is based on their request, they must be referenced within the first two sentences.
  • Colons The first word after a colon is not capitalized.
  • Commas MuckRock uses the Oxford comma in series with three or more items.
  • Headlines Headlines are in sentence case.
  • Mind Reading Documents do not let us know what people actually feel or think. Avoid attributing thoughts or feelings, instead relying on what is actually stated. i.e. "He wrote that he was angry" instead of "He was angry.". Avoid attributing intent behind actions, particularly malice. Show, don't tell.
  • MuckRock MuckRock is always camel cased.
  • Pull Quotes Use off pull quotes is encouraged. The code is {% pullquote "This is an example" sharing=True % }. Sharing is not required, but is True by default. If you use a pull quote in an article, you need to insert {% load news_tags } as the first line of the article.
  • Requester's Voice Requester's Voice, not "Requesters Voice or "Requesters' Voice."
  • Screencaps If a sentence is broken up by an image, capitalize words as if the sentence was not interrupted. An ellipsis is used to mark where the sentence is paused for the image.
  • User Submits When launching a user submit, make sure it includes fields for MuckRock username; real name; email address; tick box to join MuckRock mailing list and any related project lists, if applicable. User submits should be created with the requests@muckrock.com Google Apps account, and never with a personal email account. Make sure to have an end date for the submit stated in the article and create a reminder in the Staff Calendar. All stories with user submits should be tagged "Call To Action." Submit forms should be given a height long enough so that the user doesn't need to scroll within them; typically, you can just change the embed height to around 1200.

UX style guide

  • When talking about a user's information, use second person: "Your requests," not "My requests."

Agency names and addresses style guide

  • Prefer the agency's official name as used on its mailing address, and only include jurisdiction data when it is part of the agency's name. Typically, "Office of the Attorney General" is used for state attorneys general, while "Boston Police Department" and "New York Police Department" would be used for local police.
  • Do not include state abbreviations or try to include other metadata in the name, i.e. "Administrative Office of Courts (AL)" is wrong.
  • Do not include agency abbreviations or acronyms in the agency's name; this information should only be stored in the "Aliases" field.
  • When writing post office box information, correct style is "PO Box" and then the number, per USPS' usage.
  • If there's both a working street address and PO Box, use the PO box for mailing address.
  • Don't use both a PO Box and street address in an agency's address field.