theleftberlin Style Guide

Editorial Guidelines – Work in Progress 


    • Opinion pieces should briefly summarise the argument e.g. Another East Germany was possible 
    • News pieces should include a specific detail and avoid vagueness. E.g. not ‘Homelessness in Berlin’ but ‘Berlin homeless population reaches record levels’ 
    • Headlines should include specific detail while remaining short and ‘snappy’. 
    • A headline should in general not exceed 70 characters
    • Most headlines should contain a verb e.g The wrestler who took on Nazi Germany. 
    • A question word can also add interest e.g: What’s next for the German Left? Or How Berlin housing unions are fighting gentrification. 
    • Headlines should avoid gratuitous/sensationalist language 
    • If in doubt look at other online news sites, The Economist is a good example for clear and concise headlines and subtitles that appeal to the reader. (Disclaimer: not the content just the format) 
    • A colon in a headline is a great way to get keywords in for SEO and also to make it more ‘punchy’ e.g. Housing crisis in Berlin: how Deutsche Wohnen Enteignen is taking on landlords
    • In general, colons should be used rather than dashes in most headlines, but….  
    • em dashes can be used when you want to make a dramatic pause
    • Headlines use US spelling, even if the article itself uses British spelling.
    • Capitalization: We follow the New York Times US edition style for headline capitalization. That means capitalize all nouns, pronouns and verbs, and all other words of four or more letters. Handle shorter words as follows:
      • Capitalize No, Nor, Not, Off, Out, So, Up
  • lowercase a, and, as, at, but, by, en, for, if, in, of, on, or, the, to, v., vs., via

Handle infinitives this way: to Be; to Do; to Go.


The keywords in urls have a huge impact on whether your article will pop up in a search or not. It’s better to include as many keywords as possible, rather than have the url make sense (no one looks at them anyway). For example

could be /blair-biden-UK-US-elections

that way if someone searches UK US, UK elections US, Blair Biden elections etc. the article will have a better chance of popping up. 


The subtitle should in general not be more than 15 words. Only the first 15 words or so will appear on Twitter.

The subtitle indicates the purpose of the article and draws the reader in. It should avoid any repetition from the headline (ideally, do not reuse any word from the headline in the subtitle) and not attempt to summarise the whole article. Subheadlines should be in mixed case, i.e. capitalize only the first word and proper nouns. 

Example: How the headline and standfirst look on Twitter


The name of the author is written below the subtitle with a link to the author’s page if we have a page for that author on the website. If we have no page for the author,.there should be a sentence at the bottom of the article saying who the author is.  


Long articles can be broken up with subheadings 

 A sub-header breaks up the body text in the main article. It is written in body text to which bold (but not italic) has been applied Following a sub-header, there is an empty line followed by the next paragraph  

A subheading should in general not exceed 15 words

Bloc Quotes

  • Should be used sparingly throughout the article, so they actually stand out. There shouldn’t be two bloc quotes directly under each other, or only separated by one sentence. 
  • Should be short, ideally not longer than one sentence. 
  • Should relate to the text around them, be striking, or somehow representative of the paragraph/ section around them 


Header images must be in landscape format. 

Format for image captions? Length? 

Should concisely describe the image, relate to the article content in some way. 

Source of the image should be included as hyperlink if possible, or image credit given. 

Clarifying Acronyms 

For most acronyms, write the full title in English early on in the article (even if it seems obvious to you). You can write the acronym after it in brackets. Thereafter you can just use the acronym. eg. German Communist Party (DKP).


In German to English translations long numbers are often written with points in between e.g. 25.000. These do not make sense in English and must be substituted with a comma e.g. 25,000.

Numbers below 10 should be written out in letters and over in figures.

American v British English 

Currently we continue the article in the style that it was written and make sure it is consistently used. Most writers use American English spellings but it depends on their education and background and they are free to use either but it must be consistent throughout the article. For the purposes of article conformity, whether you use American or British English try to stick to one of them throughout the entirety of the article.


Hyperlinks can be very useful for clarifying key terms, concepts and events by providing additional information. They can also be used to link to articles (sources- instead of footnotes). Here the relevant word or phrase (3-4 words) should be hyperlinked. Avoid hyperlinking a whole sentence, this looks clunky. When making a general reference to a book, the hyperlink should link to the publisher’s page displaying a summary and publishing information about the book. See example:

Footnotes may denote direct quotations from a printed work, and should display the page number. To reduce the need for the reader to scroll between the article and the footnotes, they should be used sparingly, but must sufficiently address all quoted material. 

Fact Checking  

You should be able to find two separate sources for any ‘facts’ that are included in the article, especially if they are controversial. Best if one source is a non-journalistic source, as news outlets tend to repeat information from each other without fact-checking where the information came from. The Guardian generally does a good job of hyperlinking to the source of any info, Vox generally does a really good job of this.

If an interview partner says something that you’re having trouble fact-checking, or if you’re having trouble fact-checking any other info, add “according to” into your sentence. Then you’re off the hook for the information 🙂


Most articles that we publish are between 500 and 2000 words.

Where possible, authors should use the active voice as opposed to the passive. (eg. ‘The Left have won the election’ as opposed to ‘The elections were by The Left’)

Speech marks

Use double speech marks for what someone has said in this general format: eg. “I want to become a socialist,” said Merkel.

When ending a paragraph you don’t need to close the speech marks if the quote runs on to the next paragraph: eg.

Merkel commented: “It is so much fun.

“I really want to try it one day.”

Also note above that after a full sentence of speech the full stop is inside the speech marks. This is different to if it is a partial quote. eg. She said she wanted to be “a socialist”.

Also use double speech marks for a mini quote with ‘that’ normally: Merkel said that she wanted “a socialist state” soon. 

Use single speech marks for peculiar names or terms. 


Try to use the full name and title of a person for clarity, at least the first time you mention them.