Videomaker Magazine Style Guidelines

Videomaker provides comprehensive coverage of consumer-level video production tools. It gives tips and techniques appropriate for anyone involved with producing video as a hobby, in business or education.

This page is designed to provide an overview of our Style Guidelines and formatting requirements to writers wishing to be part of the Videomaker writer’s pool. Please refer to our Writers Policies for writer qualifications, deadlines and pay.

Before You Begin

MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION: Before you begin an essay for Videomaker, or before you submit a query, please read a current issue of the paper edition of Videomaker to have a better understanding of our style and formatting. You can find this on sale at most chain bookstores like Barnes and Nobles. The online issue doesn’t reflect the layout of the images, grids and technical illustrations that might accompany your story, so a knowledge and understanding of the layout is beneficial for Videomaker writers.

ORIGINAL CONTENT: Videomaker only uses original content written by the assigned writer. We don’t allow use of the work from other publications or copyrighted material. See “COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL” breakhead” at the bottom of this page for more detailed explanation of our policy.

GRAMMAR AND SPELLING: All Videomaker manuscripts need to be clearly written without grammar and spelling errors, and the terminology must be accurate and within the proper technical vocabulary of the subject assigned. Writers must have a clear understanding of the written word in English and the ability to format complete sentences. No fragments. Writers must use proper punctuation and adhere to the Videomaker requirements and policies. Those manuscripts not following these guidelines will be returned or rejected.

GRAMMATICAL PERSON STYLE: In most cases, features are written in the third person style, unless you are requested to provide personal experience. This means you wouldn’t write, “I tested this camera in my studio…” rather you’d write “we tested this camera in our studio…” The second person reference can be used to include the reader in the story, as in “When you’re looking to upgrade your camcorder…” or “we all want the best gear, but sticker shock might stop us…”

READERS FINDING YOUR WORK: All authors will be assigned an InBound Writer account to use when writing for Videomaker. This is a Search Engine Optimization [SEO] program to make articles easier to search for and find online. If you write for Videomaker, you must use this tool It helps readers find your story.


On ALL Manuscripts:

  • Include your name and email on the first page of your manuscript. If you are a new writer to Videomaker, then you must also your provide address and phone number.
  • Include a main title for the main text as well as sidebars. Titles should be based on the InBound Writer suggestions.
  • Limit (or break down) paragraphs to six lines maximum, assuming standard 12-point characters with one-inch margins.
  • Write subheadings (breakheads) to “headline” each new section of your article. Subheadings should serve as transitions marking the natural flow of the story, from lead to middle sections to conclusion.
  • Submit diagrams on separate sheets of paper or files—not embedded within text. Please include a brief bio of 40 words or less about you and your video production that is suitable for publication.
  • Refer to bios found in previous issues of Videomaker for style examples.
  • Manuscripts might be rejected and the author asked for a rewrite if any of these policies aren’t followed.

General Style

The average Videomaker reader is male, 45 to 54 years old and a professional in a field other than video production. Most of our readers consider themselves intermediate-level videographers. Our readers are both the committed hobbyist videographer interested in making better videos without a huge financial or time investment and the prosumer videographer who does invest lots of time and money in this pursuit-and earns some income by it. Picture both the hobbyist and prosumer Videomaker readers as your write.

The Videomaker “Voice” Videomaker magazine strives to provide its readers with content that encourages and supports the process of producing video in all of its stages. The editorial content in each issue of Videomaker should reflect an encouraging and supportive tone. Through this attitude, we hope to shed light on the opportunities available to all video enthusiasts, no matter what their level of expertise. Some words that describe the Videomaker voice: supportive, layperson-oriented, grassroots, encouraging, enthusiastic, accessible.

  • It is very important not to use adjectives or descriptive phrases to describe a product you haven’t personally tested. For example, if the press release for a special effects software program says “it provides dazzling special effects” you should not call the product “dazzling” unless you have tested it and found it to be so.
  • Be careful to make your explanations and explorations understandable to the inexperienced videographer. Keep the beginner involved. Your style, level of complexity and approach should make sense to the readers. Do NOT assume the reader has extensive prior knowledge of the subject.
  • Move from general to particular, simple to complex, familiar to the unfamiliar.
  • Keep explanations in a logical sequence.
  • Give examples, analogies, metaphors for difficult concepts.

1. The Title of the Article
The title must both grab readers’ attention and tell them what the article is about. We try to use the best SEO (Search Engine Optimization) words possible, so you might be asked to include certain words or phrases in your story. Sometimes it is easiest to achieve both of these goals by using a title and subtitle, or a super-title and title, for instance:


Tips for buying blank media and discs for your productions

2. The lead
Like the title, the opening paragraph must both grab the readers and tell them what the story will cover. Additionally, the lead must tell the readers what benefit they will derive from reading the article. Take care. Stating the benefit is not the same thing as telling what the story will cover. E.g. “So blank media isn’t the most exciting topic you could read about, but you know it’s important. How can you know that the blanks you use won’t let you down? Keep reading as we cover brands, grades, durability and more. The next time you stand before a shelf of media to make a choice, you’ll have a knowing gaze instead of a blank stare.”

3. Breakheads

  • Use meaningful breakheads. A reader should be able to get the sense of the article by reading only the title and breakheads.
  • Breakheads are like mini chapter points and should alert the reader to the content coming next.
  • All breakheads should have the first letter uppercased, except for prepositions and the first word regardless of type should be uppercased. e.g. The Time to Buy is Now
  • Breakheads should be in a bold font, not underlined.

4. Usage
The best guide for Videomaker usage is a current copy of the magazine. For style consistency, Videomaker editors refer to The Associated Press Stylebook. If you wish to be a continuing contributor to Videomaker, we suggest you acquire a copy of the AP Stylebook.

5. Readability
Write in the active, not passive, voice. For example, instead of writing, “..a cutaway can be used to help tell a story”, write “Use cutaways to help tell a story.” For those of you with computer grammar checkers, reduce passive voice constructions to three percent or less. Write in a clear, concise and logical style. One way we measure writing clarity is with the Flesch-Kincaid Index, which formally rates writing complexity. Microsoft Word for Windows and Mac measures the Flesch-Kincaid Index as part of the grammar checker. Articles for Videomaker must have a Flesch-Kincaid Index of around 11.

6. Clean Copy
There have been times when a writer’s submission to Videomaker appears to have been written in haste. Although we acknowledge that you are probably multi-tasking, have other duties, work, and family life to deal with, in the end, that’s not our problem. We expect clean copy that is clear and concise, properly edited and spellchecked. Please understand that we are also multi-tasking and strapped for time and resources, however we have a growing writer’s pool of more than a thousand people wishing to write for Videomaker. If you can’t follow the rules or submit proper copy that has been read and re-read, we don’t have the time to coddle or fine-tune your work if our editors have to re-write slop.

For example: if you spend four hours writing a standard feature that pays $200, this averages down to $50 an hour. Even 10 hours on a feature brings in a hefty $20 an hour breakdown. After paying an independent contractor that rate, our editors can’t then need to spend an equal amount or more on the same story. Again—if you can’t supply clean, concise, usable copy, we have others who will.

7. Punctuation
Refer to the AP Stylebook for proper punctuation tips, but here are a few Videomaker requires you follow:

  • Do not use the Harvard comma. In a series of three or more words or phrases, do not place a comma before “and” or “or” (e.g., The camcorder features a manual focus, flip-out LCD screen and XLR ports.)
  • Use a comma in numerical expressions with numbers of four or more digits. ($1,000, not $1000.)
  • When using parenthesis in American publications, all periods go inside the brackets. A way to remember this is “periods go inside the parenthesis when inside the U.S., and outside the parenthesis when writing outside the U.S.
  • Do NOT double space after a period. This is old school typing requirements that don’t apply anymore. When you double space our programs thinks it’s a new breakhead.
  • Don’t use bullet points in your copy. Our stylistic program doesn’t convert it well. If you are lining ideas up in a list, place an X before each list and our editors will understand your direction.

8. Contractions
Use contractions whenever possible; this fosters a conversational tone of writing (“don’t” instead of “do not”, “can’t” instead of “can not”, etc).

9. Numbers
Spell out “zero” through “nine”; use numerals thereafter. Use numerals when referencing identifications (pin 4 or Fig. 6) or electrical units (9-volt output).

10. Dimensions, Weights, Degrees
In text, use numerals for amounts, but spell out dimension units. (The VCR, measuring 15 inches wide by 4 inches high by 13 inches deep, comes with a 5-foot remote.) In charts and diagrams, abbreviate all units of measurement. Use numerals for amounts and spell out weight units, as well as the word “degree.” (The camera weighs 5 pounds, 1 ounce; camera in hand, he panned 180 degrees.)

11. Percentages
Spell out the word “percent” in text. Use decimals instead of fractions when appropriate. For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero. (The price of tripods rose 0.8 percent.) Use the percent sign (%) in charts and graphs only. Speaking of percentages, be factual when using them. If you write “80 percent of all videographers will upgrade their camcorder this year”, you better have the facts to back that statement up.

12. Titles of Books, Movies and Recordings
Italicize titles of movies, TV series, periodicals, music CDs, books and websites.

13. Emphasis
To emphasize a word or phrase, place it in Italics. Videomaker does not use underscored, Bold or ALL CAPS text. Use Italics rarely. Please understand this. The longer we have to re-format your story, the more time we have to spend editing it, and we might pick a different writer in the future for time constraints.

14. Abbreviations
Except for State names, spell out all abbreviations upon first usage. Calif., N.Y., Ill., etc.

The only other exception would be very well known companies that identify themselves by an acronym: CBS, NBC, IBM, etc.

15. Words to Watch
Jargon and technical terms abound in the video field. Please see the Tricky Little Words list, for Videomaker style on these terms and abbreviations.

  • For instance you can use the word mic, (not mike) for microphone after it’s first reference is written out fully, and miked for past tense, but not “miced”!)
  • Define all jargon and technical terms upon first use.

16. Artwork
Videomaker encourages its writers to make suggestions regarding the presentation of copy. This includes ideas for page layout, support photography, charts and illustrations. We also encourage writers to submit actual photographs and art for the Art Director’s consideration.

  • Photo submissions should be digital images as large and as sharp as possible, with contrast appropriate for publication. Pictures should have an image size at least 300dpi 1000 pixels wide for best use. We prefer digital pics to be sent to us as jpg or tif files. CMYK is OK.
  • Do not embed photos or illustrations in your text copy, send them in a separate file.
  • Take the time to write complete, descriptive captions for all diagrams, tables, listings and photos. Identify their origins and specify corresponding copy.
  • Be sure to identify the sources of all submissions and the individuals or organizations to credit in print, if necessary. Include a self-addressed envelope for the return of materials.

Copyrighted Material

1. From Writers: The words in these manuscripts must be written by the author alone, and not pulled from online sources nor can they be a rehash of a story that the writer has written previously in this or any other publication. We check for plagiarism using several different sources and procedures, and those that are deemed to be stolen from another source will be rejected and the writer will not work for Videomaker again. In the past we have black-listed several writers for ripping off others from the internet, and even from other stories within our own publication.

” ‘Piracy’ is plagiarized misuse of the results of intellectual work and assigning authorship publishing entity.”

Plagiarism is piracy. You, as a video producer would be upset to discover someone stole your video material online and passed it as their own. Stealing one’s written work is the same and will not be tolerated by Videomaker. If you’re not sure what the definition of Plagiarism is, read the link above from the website.

2. From Videomaker: All content that Videomaker pays for, whether written or video, belong to Videomaker and can not be reproduced, reissued, traded or sold to other content providers or used on your own personal website without permission from Videomaker. Use of any article or video belonging to Videomaker must link back to Videomaker’s website.

QUERIES: Videomaker requires writers to use an online collaborative program for article submissions. Queries, however, for possible inclusion in publication in Videomaker can be sent through standard email. Simply attach a file (RTF or Word format preferred) to a standard message. E-mail to: Please read through all Videomaker Styleguides and Policies before submitting any work.