A Few Words To New And Veteran Writers From Your Editors
Here are a few tips that will help you to avoid getting an “article rejected” notice from AMS. We’ve picked from a list of the rejection comments that we write over and over. Some may seem arbitrary to you and perhaps they are, but if you keep the tips in mind and review them periodically before submitting your articles, you will not have to correct so many errors. Please keep in mind that these are general instructions. From time to time they may be replaced or enhanced by special instructions, either from the client or from AMS administration.
- Use the system tools.They each are important. If you get a red warning, make sure you check it and eliminate it if appropriate. These tools include:“Duplicate content” – The location and duplicated words will be described. Use the “search” feature to locate and change one of the phrases. Then recheck. If the warning disappears, you are good to go. If not, choose another of the duplicated terms and repeat the process.
“Spell Check” – Look at each word listed. Not all words are spelled wrong. They may just not be in the system. The system doesn’t recognize many proper names and place names. It also doesn’t recognize contractions. Use the “find” tools to correct every true spelling error.
“Word Density” – There are three separate categories here. The keyword density should be a minimum of .5% and a maximum of 1.5%. The system automatically picks up the article title as the keyword, so at times you will need to IGNORE this tool. Generally, if you ensure that the keyword appears in the title, first paragraph and last paragraph, the density will be fine.)
At times, a client will have a misspelled title/keyword. You should use it as provided. Occasionally, the misspelling results in a title/keyword that would be objectionable for various reasons. DO NOT arbitrarily change it. Contact ADMIN through the chat room.
Other words checked for density are the individual words that make up a keyword phrase. The phrase as a whole is checked. The individual words are checked. The individual words can have any density up to 1.5%. If they go over 1.50%, change a word (not in the keyword, unless it is used multiple times).
You will also see word density for words unrelated to the keywords. Often, there are a result of a writing style habit. You may not even be aware that you are using a word or phrase repeatedly. Common examples are “of the” “that you” and “you can”. Check and correct any words that exceed 1.5% density.
- Keyword Placement and Construction. This is probably the most common reason for editorial and admin rejection. With a standard keyword, include it ONE TIME EACH in the title, first paragraph, and last paragraph of each article. Optionally, you may include it additional times in interior paragraphs, as long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum 1.5% keyword density limit AND as long as it is used in the exact same paragraph of each article (for UAW). If the article is longer than 500 words, you will probably need to add at least one additional keyword usage in order to reach the minimum .5% density. Recommended placement of an additional keyword is in the second or next to the last paragraph.
Client variations to keywords – Some clients don’t want a location included within the title. The same rules apply as to the standard keywords, just write the title without using a location.
Some clients provide two, or more commonly three, keywords in the special instructions. This type may tell you not to use a location in the title. The main/first keyword is to be used in the title, first paragraph and last paragraph of each article. The secondary keyword (s) will be used ONE TIME EACH in each article. Again, make sure the same paragraph is used for each respective keyword.
One special type of article known as a DYA article should be noted. The client instructions say that a maximum of two keyword placements are allowed. If the keyword includes a location, the placement is in the first paragraph and in the last paragraph of each article. If the keyword DOES NOT include a location, the keyword should appear in the title and in the first paragraph. It should NOT be placed in the final paragraph when no location is included.
Another important client instruction in regard to keywords is on the subject of prepositions. Typically the instruction will say something like “one preposition may be included before the location”. This instruction can make some keyword constructions MUCH easier. If the option is given, you should take advantage of it. Conversely, if the client instructions don’t include the instruction, DON’T insert extra words, prepositions or otherwise. If you do use a preposition according to client instructions, the system won’t recognize that you have inserted the keyword. This is another instance where you can ignore the system warning.
One other common rejection notice you will see is “Use the keyword in a natural and grammatically correct manner.” This will typically be in response to a provided keyword such as “ Plumbing New York City”. The sentence by the writer will be something like “Contact plumbing New York City” for repair services. The sentence sounds like you are describing a company name or brand which is what editors don’t want to see. Instead, construct a sentence using a prepositional clause, such as “When you are looking for help with plumbing, New York City professionals can be found by looking online or locally.” THEN remove the comma between “plumbing” and “New York City”. The result is “When you are looking for help with plumbing New York City professionals can be found by looking online or locally.” Some writers want to argue that this is not grammatically correct either. We recognize that technically it needs the comma, but the search engines AND the human reader will both be able to understand the content without a comma.
- Personalizing Articles – You are not writing a blog. You are not having a chat with friends. Do not personalize articles. This is also stated as “Don’t use first person mode in writing”. The instruction means don’t use: “we” “I” “us” “our” or “my”. It also means don’t use such terms in contractions such as “let’s” .
- Grammar – This seems like a “given”. Still, there are many reviews that inform writers that there are grammatical, punctuation and word choice errors. Nouns and verbs must agree in number and tense. A singular noun needs a singular verb. A verb in the present tense should be consistent throughout the sentence, at least. Writers are often reminded to check rules for capitalization. Proper names are capitalized. Sentence beginnings are capitalized.
A period at the end of a sentence is always followed by a single space. We tell writers not to use questions in their writing. No punctuation should appear in the article titles, unless specified by the client. Editors also frown on exclamation points and on over-use of dashes or hyphens used as dashes.
Possessives are another problem area. When you want to show possession, it requires an “apostrophe S”. For example, “In today’s world, it is important to use correct writing skills.”
There is one area where editors consistently find misuse of the “apostrophe S”. That is in the use of “its” ( A plant needs its sunshine to grow) and it’s (It’s a sunny day). The only time an apostrophe should be used is if you are denoting a contraction “It is”.
- Pronouns – The editors will tell you to avoid the use of pronouns. We have found that when a lot of pronouns are used, the writer will inevitably use a wrong form eventually. For example, “When a writer of AMS articles is checking work carefully, they will not make so many grammatical errors.” In the example sentence, “they” should be matched to “writer”, not to “articles”. The correct form is “When a writer of AMS articles is checking work carefully, he will not make so many grammatical errors.” Such an error occasionally results in some extremely humorous results.
Another common error using the above error sentence as an example is ““When a writer of AMS articles are checking work carefully, he will not make so many grammatical errors.”
DO NOT start a paragraph with a pronoun such as “They” “There” “These” “Those” and similar words. The concept behind UAW articles is that a specific paragraph from article 2 might replace the same numbered paragraph from article 1. If the preceding paragraph doesn’t end with the same reference noun, “They” might end up referring to an entirely different noun.
- Homonyms – Misusing homonyms is another common error. “There” “They’re” and “Their” are not words that are interchangeable. Unfortunately, the spell checker won’t catch this type of error.
- English - Related to this type of errors is the differences between UK English, USA English, SA English, and Australian English. If the article is obviously for a UK site, use UK English. You can reset your language preference to pick up spelling differences. Don’t use terms that could be misunderstood in another nation, even though they are English. We understand this is somewhat subjective. One example that is common is using the word “scheme”. In UK English it’s perfectly acceptable in a positive way. In US English, it has a negative connotation.
- Filler Words– We will tell you not to use filler words. Some examples are “For example” “however” “Finally” If you can remove the word without changing meaning, it may be a filler word. Don’t start a sentence with “And” “Or” or “But”. Another word that many writers use constantly is “hence”. It really doesn’t add meaning and isn’t an accurate conjunction in many places where it is used.We will also tell you not to use numbers and bullet points as paragraph lead-ins. This is because of clients’ propensity to rearrange paragraphs. We don’t want you to use subheadings either.
- Slang - Don’t use it. There are acceptable terms in UK English and Canadian English that are perjorative in American English. Even if the term is not offensive, it may be meaningless to people in another country, English-speaking or otherwise.
- Article Length – The system won’t let you submit an article that is less than the stated length. Your article may be rejected if it is too long. Generally, don’t exceed the stated length by more than 10%.
The above comments are some of the most common statements that writers will see on rejections and reviews. Something that is a little harder to form rules about is that of “non-native English”. We have seen writers who put all the spelling rules and punctuation rules into place and still have an unacceptable article, simply because the phrasing is not native English. AMS clients know the difference. The readers of the articles will know the difference.
The editors want you to succeed. We also want articles that clients are happy with. We certainly don’t catch all the errors. In fact, we may not even review a majority of the articles you write. This is why it is so important that you take the time to review the list above periodically. PROOFREAD each and every article you write. Many writers find that proofreading the articles aloud will help you to see errors you might have skipped over when reading silently. These include doubled words and missing words.
One final comment. These rules apply to standard articles and UAW articles. They may or may not apply to certain other types of articles, such as EZA articles. It always pays to check the special instructions associated with a specific article.