The following style guide is a resource for writers and prospective writers of the Gladiator Blog. If anything is not addressed below, use your best judgment or check in with our Content Manager, WreckDeck. If you are interested in writing for the Independent Gladiator blog, message WreckDeck on Discord.
If this looks familiar, it is because this is 80% the EDHREC Style Guide.
New to WordPress?
Check out The New Writers Guide and follow these instructions! If you have any questions about WordPress or the process, please send a message to Rae (Raeofsunlight#4214) on Discord.
NOTE: The first title at the top is NO LONGER hidden. Please disregard that part of this video.
A Note on Using this Guide
The goal of every article should be to convey something of value to the reader: entertainment, humor, information, advice, encouragement, the opportunity to comment on a hot-button issue, etc. If you can’t point to the value your article provides, it may be worth considering a rewrite. Your thoughts and writing should follow a logical flow, with the reader able to follow your train of thought. Clunky writing comes across as disjointed and will turn people away quickly.
This guide is designed to be used as a reference when questions arise during the writing process. Please reference this guide when you have a question about formatting or style preferences. Please note: the fact that your articles will be edited doesn’t mean you can be sloppy. Editing time should be spent polishing your paper to professional quality, not correcting simple errors.
Be sure to either compose your piece within the text editor on the site, or use the clipboard icon to paste it as plain text. Carrying over formatting from other programs can make things tricky sometimes, which is why I recommend composing the article in WordPress itself.
We aren’t picky about deadlines because everyone here is a volunteer. However, when possible articles should be submitted at least one week in advance of when you want them posted. This helps with our editor’s schedule.
For any time sensitive articles, such as Set Reviews or Meta Analysis before a big tournament, you need to let the editor know one week in advance of the date they are to receive your draft. That gives them the opportunity to set aside time to edit and publish it as quickly as possible from when you write it. Even if your article is a recurring one, please tell the editor so that there are no surprises.
Be sure you have an author bio in your user profile [Users –> Your Profile]. Write it in the third person (i.e. don’t say “I, my, we, our”). Make it humorous if you want to. Use a decent picture in your profile, or use your Discord icon.
When promoting your content online, please follow these rules:
- You must refer to us as the Independent Gladiator Blog.
- Do not make our relationship to the format or to the official Discord unclear in any way.
- Follow all of the guidelines of the site where you are sharing your content; do not advertise where it is not welcome.
The following items should be capitalized:
- All words in card names, except for articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions of less than five letters (as, by, for, from, in, etc.).
- Exception: Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions should be capitalized when used as the first word in a card name.
- e.g., Revenge of the Hunted, A Display of My Dark Power, Howl from Beyond
- Tip: when in doubt, refer to the card itself.
- When you’re referring to a card after its first full reference, capitalize the shortened version too (e.g., “Delver of Secrets dominates Standard. If you’re not playing a Delver deck, you’re doing it wrong.”)
- Card subtypes are capitalized; Auras, Equipment, Sagas, Zombies, Birds, Dragons.
- Magic formats
- e.g., Standard, Legacy, Draft, Sealed, Limited, Constructed
- Exception: The act of drafting is not a proper noun. (e.g., “I drafted a sweet deck…Do you want to draft tonight?” as opposed to, “My favorite Draft format is triple Innistrad… The FNM format is Draft.”)
- All proper nouns, including but not limited to:
- Magic: the Gathering and any shorthand reference to the game of Magic (not “magic” or “mtg”).
- Names of characters, people, places, etc.
- Guilds/factions, e.g., Simic, Esper, Akroan, etc.
- Names of specific events (e.g., Pro Tour Theros, Grand Prix Miami). Exception: not generic events (e.g., The pro tour was awesome this weekend…I went to the grand prix last month).
- Names of businesses and websites (e.g. Twitter, Star City Games, etc.)
The following items should not be capitalized:
- Card types
- e.g., instant, sorcery, planeswalker, creature, land, artifact, enchantment
- Important: Subtypes are different from card types. Auras, Equipment, and Sagas are capitalized. Creature types are also capitalized.
- e.g., “My Spider tribal deck doesn’t run a lot of enchantments or artifacts, but I do have some Equipment.”
- e.g., red mana, blue card, green mage, black magic, white weenie creatures
- Generic terms, even if they are referencing a proper noun
- e.g., Pro Tour Theros vs. the pro tour; Platinum Pro vs. going for platinum; Editor-in-Chief Jason Alt vs. I am editor-in-chief of this website.
TIP: when in doubt, look at a card. Our capitalization rules should follow the same capitalization rules as card rules text.
In short: “I play Commander. My commander is a blue legendary Bird Wizard that uses Auras and Equipment. I like playing blue-black, but in this case, I went with Esper.”
Set names; “Snapcaster Mage was originally printed in Innistrad.” “Welcome to the Core Set 2019 Set Review!”
Non-evergreen keywords; “Atraxa has flying, vigilance, deathtouch, and lifelink, and at the end of your turn, she lets you Proliferate.”
Article series titles; “Hello and welcome to Underdog’s Corner.”
Abbreviations and Nicknames
Abbreviations and nicknames are acceptable, but before you use a nickname or abbreviation, be sure you use the full name or title on first reference.
i.e. The first time you mention Brian Kibler, make sure to spell out his full name. From then on, if you want to use something like “the Dragonmaster” or just “Kibler,” that’s fine as long as you’re using it within a context that makes it clear you’re referring to the same person.
- red-white; RW; Boros; Lorehold
- Dark Confidant; Bob
- Luis Scott-Vargas; LSV
- Mark Rosewater; MaRo
Another note on names: Just because a website address doesn’t have spaces in it doesn’t mean business names don’t. If you’re referring to Star City Games, do not write “StarCityGames.” Just because the website is starcitygames.com doesn’t mean the name of the business does not have spaces. This is true of many businesses, but not all (TCGplayer and WordPress appear to prefer no space). When in doubt, check the source!
Game and set names: Names of games or sets should be in italic type. This includes Magic, Magic: The Gathering, Magic Online, Hearthstone, Theros, Khans of Tarkir, etc. However, abbreviations are not italicized (e.g., MTG, KTK, etc.).
Dates should be formatted as MONTH DAY, YEAR.
- e.g., January 27, 2013
- Not January 27th, 2013—do not include the suffixes for the day. They’re implied.
- If you’re referencing a date in the middle of a sentence, the year should have a comma on both sides. Think of it as a descriptor for the date that is set apart from the rest of the sentence. (e.g., On April 29, 2011, stuff happened; The Vintage tournament on August 8, 2015, is going to be a complete blowout.)
Official Gladiator images and logos may not be used. We do not have permission from the the format to do so.
When you are referencing specific cards, please tag them.
To insert a card link that show the image on hover, use the code [card]Card Name[/card].
To show only a card images, use this code:
The use of a set is optional, so don’t feel obligated to hunt down the set code for each card you reference.
Make sure the card’s name is spelled properly and has the correct punctuation, capitalization, and spacing.
Split cards: To tag split cards, use the format NAME SPACE // SPACE NAME. So, [card]Fire // Ice[/card].
These are important. Every article needs one, because this will be the image visible from the main page. The art should represent the content of your article in some way, be it an iconic card within the deck, a land that represents the guild you’re analyzing, etc.
You must add a caption describing who the artist of the image is (read more about that below).
- Don’t just put a large image at the top of your article. Use the “Featured Image” link on the bottom right. There’s an image just below of what this looks like before and after a feature image has been added.
- Important: These images must be 1200 x 675 in size.
- Your readers should be able to see the opening Header 1 of your article and parts of your opening paragraph when they open the page.
- Please be sensible about your featured image. Do not use an actual card, or art from a Saga, which is famously taller than it is wide.
- Important: do not just Google the art for a card image and use what you find. Nine times out of ten, the image is way too big and our editor will have to fix it. Remember, these images get used as banners on the front page, so if you use a great big card image, we wouldn’t see the important part of the art, we’d just see some random middle section of it. We want to see Aminatou’s face on the front page, not Aminatou’s dress.
- You may often need to edit the image yourself to make it an appropriate size. You can use a simple program like Paint to make images a more appropriate size.
The art of Magic: the Gathering is splendid, and the artists deserve credit. Whenever we use one of their works as a Featured Image, we’d like to tag them. It’s very simple, and looks like this:
For the artist tag:
- When uploading the image, fill in the caption section with the card name and the artist’s name.
- Once the image has been added to the blog, edit the text below it to show: [card]Card Name[/card], Art by Artist Name)
- Add a link on the artist’s name to their website
- Featured images cannot use the [card] or Card not found tags.
We want to support each other’s content, as well as provide readers an easy reading experience, so add links in your articles when you reference other stuff. Never assume a reader knows the other material you’re referencing, such as a past article, a YouTube video, or even another content creator.
For example, if you mention another author, make their name a hyperlink to their author page, which has their collected work. If you mention another article, including and especially one of your own past articles, make a link for it. It makes things easy for readers.
Adding links is super easy in WordPress. Use this button:
All decklists submitted should be divided into sections:
- Important: Organize sections either by casting cost, so readers can get a sense of the deck’s curve at a glance, or alphabetically. If you’d prefer to put sorceries before instants, or enchantments before artifacts, that’s usually fine; if, for example, you’re making a Superfriends deck and want to feature the planeswalkers prominently in the decklist, feel free to rearrange the sections.
- You are also at liberty to separate decklists by card function (e.g. “Draw Spells” / “Finishers” / “Ramp” / “Combo Enablers” and so on). If you choose this method, however, make sure the sections are specific and distinct, and keep it to less than 10 sections; too many labels can be distracting and confusing.
Use the following outline when including a decklist in your article:
- [deck title=Deck Name Here]
- [/Planesw alkers]
Put the cards in between the two labels for each section, and don’t put anything after [/deck]. List the number and name of each card together on one line, starting with an asterisk (*), the numeral, and the card name. List only one card name per line. Don’t pluralize the card name, even if more than one copy is in the deck.
Here is an example of a deck
- [deck title=Small Deck]
- *1 Leafcrown Dryad
- *23 Relentless Rats
- *1 Entomb
- *4 Swamp
Pro tip: Don’t include apostrophes in your deck titles. It doesn’t work, for some reason. “Radha’s Journey” will show up as “Radha’s Journey” and that’s no fun for anyone.
Have a title. Not just your article series title, but a main header that uses Heading 1.
If you don’t, our editor reserves the right to add one for you.
Use headings for sections in your articles. Titles use Heading 1. Major sections should use Heading 2. Subsections should use Heading 3. (To apply headings, click the menu that says “Paragraph” at the top left of the word-processing field and select the appropriate option.)
Be sure to use headings (and card images) to break up the sections of your article. A big wall of text does not look inviting to read. Again, I reserve the right to break things up and add my own headers with my own section titles if you don’t.
Numbers and Numerals
As a general rule, numbers under 10 should be spelled out (one, two, three, four, etc.), and numbers 10 and over should use numerals (10, 25, 117, 1000).
- Sentences should not start with numerals. Either spell out the number or rephrase the sentence. (Incorrect: 20 people showed up for the IQ. Correct: Twenty people showed up for the IQ or The IQ had 20 people show up.)
- Numbers of cards in deck lists should always use numerals, e.g., 3 Squire.
- When you’re citing a tournament record, numerals are okay. (e.g., I’m 6-0 so far.)
- When using multiple numbers in different contexts, sometimes it can be more clear to use a mix of numerals and written-out numbers. As always, be consistent! (e.g., My opponent had three cards in hand and was at 4 life, I had six and was at 9.)
- “She attacked me with three 4/4s,” not “three 4/4’s.”
At this time polls are unavailable for our authors. However, we are able to set them up for you if are interested in having one on an article! Make sure to @ Raeofsunlight#4214 on Discord and let her know the following:
- The question.
- The answers (note: we cannot have readers type their own answers. Please ask people to respond in the comments instead).
- When or if the poll should end.
- If readers may respond multiple times, and how many answers they can submit.
Keep it infrequent and PG-13, and it’s no big deal. A rule I heard was “Don’t write anything you wouldn’t write in the Wall Street Journal.” We’re not QS, though, so maybe the rule should be “Don’t write anything you wouldn’t write in Newsweek Magazine,” which is basically to say, use common sense. I tend to use profanity for effect more than most writers but when I do, I write something like @#$% which makes it obvious that there is some word there but forces the reader to divine it from context or supply their own. However, our editor reserves the right to remove any profanity you choose to include.
Use generic singular pronouns, with a healthy mix of masculine and feminine versions, unless the card or lore specifically states a gender.
Pronouns to use when referring to cards: Cards should be referred to as “it” in most instances (e.g., My opponent cast Snapcaster Mage, but I bolted it before blocked).
- Exception: Legendary creatures and planeswalkers can be referred to as “he” or “she” or other applicable pronouns (e.g., “Venser, Shaper Savant is really good. He should be included in every Cube list”).
- Know your character genders. For example, Mizzix and Vial Smasher are female. Aetherborn (like Gonti and Yahenni) are always “they.”
Pronouns for Psychographics: Don’t forget, it’s not just Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. Use Timmy and/or Tammy, Johnny and/or Jenny. Spike is already neutral.
Proper nouns ending in “s” should be followed by an apostrophe and another “s.” This is consistent with templating on cards (and, you know, proper punctuation in general).
- e.g., Mons’s Goblin Raiders, Rakdos’s Revenge, Luis’s winning decklist
Simple nouns ending in “s” should be followed by just an apostrophe.
- e.g., The players’ decks were all too expensive; the students’ scores were bad.
Its vs. it’s:
“It’s,” with the apostrophe, is a contraction of “it is” and only a contraction of “it is.” The possessive form of ‘it’ has no apostrophe: “Every dog has its day.” Its’ (with the apostrophe after the s) is never correct. Watch out for these! It is (or it’s, if you prefer) a common error.
If you’re using dashes to break up sentences—like this—know how to use them. Em dashes are preferred (make them by using Alt + 0151). The regular keyboard dash looks odd, so use the Em, please. I’ll know if you don’t.
Hyphens should be used with compound adjectives. This means that if you are describing a noun with multiple words, those words should be connected with hyphens.
- e.g., 19-year-old player; semi-competitive event; 100-card deck; long-anticipated wait; far-too-long-and-complicated explanation, etc.
- Red-white; mono-blue; four-color
Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks, even if it’s not part of the original quote. (e.g., He said Nightveil Specter was a “bad spec.”)
Question marks and exclamation marks can go either in or outside the quotation marks, depending on how they were used in the original quote. (e.g., Did you hear him say to me, “You’re fat”?; He asked me, “Do you know where the LGS is?”; I can’t believe she would say, “I’m not interested”!; He screamed, “I am angry!”)
Don’t use single quotation marks, use double quotation marks. (e.g., “Get out of here!” not: ‘Get out of here!’)
- Exception: When embedding quotation marks within another set of quotation marks, only then should you use single quotations. (e.g., He said to me, “Sally told me ‘Go win the tournament!’”)
Do not put two spaces after the end of sentences. This is an outdated practice from the typewriter days, and no matter what your elementary school teacher told you, it’s no longer necessary or correct. Did you write your article on a typewriter? No, you didn’t. 🙂
Try to keep your articles between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
- Cutting unnecessary language will tighten up your writing and almost always make your points more clear. It’s easier to write more than less, but writing for the sake of writing doesn’t make it better—it just makes it longer.
- Long epics are sometimes fun, but can lose some readers. Remember that we’re competing for the time they have set aside for reading articles.
- All that being said, if you have a long article that can’t or shouldn’t be broken into parts, don’t be afraid to go long. As long as you have a justifiable reason for doing so and you believe it’s worth it to the reader, you’re fine (but be prepared for the editor to cut it in half and spread it out over two weeks if he sees a good stopping point).
Annoying question marks: Some issues can come up due to the WordPress interface and its capabilities. One of the most common—and most annoying—is that some special characters will be replaced with question marks. This can also be caused by certain formatting options, or sometimes by apparently nothing at all. Once you’ve submitted your article on WordPress, please Ctrl+F and search the text for question marks. Make sure all that are there should be there, and remove any that shouldn’t. Resubmit your draft, Ctrl+F for ? again, and make sure the question marks stayed gone.
Importing from Word: Importing or copying text from Word files is likely to cause many of the above-referenced question marks to appear. To avoid this, use the instructions here.
Plug-Ins: If you need a WordPress plug-in installed for your article, send a message to Rae (Raeofsunlight#4214) on Discord. Please include the link for the plug-in needed.
WordPress Tags and Categories
When creating your article you will be given the opportunity to add categories and tags to your blogs. Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts. If your blog was a book, then categories will be the table of contents. On the other hand, tags are more specific keywords that describe the contents of an individual post. For example, a blog post filed under the Deck List category can have tags like combo, aggro, control, etc. These categories and tags are essential for two reasons.
- Tags and categories are the best ways website users can search for articles on the website itself.
- Tags and categories are essential to our articles and website being found on online search engines like Google and Bing.
Because of this, some tags will be required for each article that is written, and there will be a list of them below.
Some tags and categories have been created for you, while others you may need to create yourself. Prior to creating a tag, please double-check that one does not already exist and that what you are wanting to add is indeed a tag and not a category. When creating a tag, please make sure to capitalize it, spell it properly. Ensure that it is appropriate because users of the blog can view the tags attached to each blog post.
Bans, Deck Lists, Deck Tech, Events, New Players, Player Experience, State of the Format, Tournaments
General: MTG, Magic: the Gathering, Arena, Gladiator, Singleton, GLAD
Color Combinations (ALL applicable and ALL styles):
If you were running an Esper list, you would use the following tags: 3-Color, Esper, UWB
- 2-Color, 3-Color, 4-Color, 5-Color
- Mono-White, Mono-Blue, Mono-Black, Mono-Red, Mono-Green, Colorless
- WU, UB, BR, RG, GW, WB, UR, BG, RW, GU
- Azorius, Dimir, Rakdos, Gruul, Selesnya, Orzhov, Izzet, Golgari, Boros, Simic
- WGU, UWB, BRU, RBG, GRW, WBG, URW, BGU, RWB, GRU
- Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund, Naya, Abzan, Jeskai, Sultai, Mardu, Temur
- UBRG, BRGW, RGWU, GWUB, WUBR
Style of Play (for deck lists or results, create as needed) – Control, Aggro, Stompy, White-Weenies, etc
Tournaments: Tournament Report
Other Relevant Tags: Budget Decks, Metagame, Player Experience
The “Preview” button is your best friend. Use this liberally, to make sure your decklists are formatting correctly, your card image tags are working properly, and that your images aren’t the size of Montana.
In Preview, I recommend doing a Ctrl + F search for the [ bracket symbols. This immediately alerts you to any image tags that aren’t working properly. Folks often miss the “/” in the image tag (e.g. [card]Sidisi, Undead Vizier[card] will not work.)
If you hit “Preview” and nothing shows up at all, it’s usually a decklist formatting problem.
If you are a frequent writer that often uses the same style, then it may help you to set up a template on Google Docs and/or WordPress that will allow you to quickly fill in your cards and text. WordPress allows you to copy drafts that you have already created.
Setting up a column format may help if you tend to write articles that are similar to set reviews in that you choose a card to talk about and write a paragraph about it, before moving on to the next card. To set this up, create a WordPress post. Then click the black + button and type “columns” in the search bar. A variety of column proportions will appear – the ones you will want are either 50-50 or 70-30. I personally prefer 70-30 because the image size for 50-50 split is generally too large for my tastes. Once you have selected one of the proportions, add your text to the left side and your image or [scry img] to the right.
This is an example of a 70-30 split.
This is an example of a 50-50 split.
We would like to do set reviews upon the release of a new set to discuss exciting new cards. The purpose of set reviews is to discuss exciting new cards that we think will or could make waves in the format.
For each card, you’ll want to discuss its potential applications, archetypes which could make use of it, and so on. If there’s a card you think is overhyped, this is an excellent place to discuss it. If there’s a card you think is underrated, say so.
Generally, we break reviews down the following way:
- White review
- Blue review
- Black review
- Red review
- Green review
- Colorless & lands review
- Gold/Multicolor review
These are not always published in the above order, but in the order writers finish them. It can be a bit of a scramble, so finish them ASAP.
Occasionally, depending on the set, we may change the above formula. For example, Ravnica sets always have an abundance of multicolored cards, too many for a single article. We may elect to split a review by rarity, or by guild/wedge/shard, or something else entirely. Just depends on the set.
If you’d like to write a set review, we normally bid for them in our Discord chat as each new set is spoiled. Some folks may prefer to stick to their preferred colors each time around, while other folks like to try a new category each time. It’s generally a first-come first-serve basis; just because you wrote a review for the last set doesn’t mean you’ll always get a review slot. There are a limited number of us, after all.
SET NAME Set Review: Color (e.g. Return to Ravnica Set Review – Blue)
NOT: The Independent Gladiator Blog Ravnica Blue Review; The Independent Gladiator Blog Ravnica Review – Blue;
Featured Images: Finding featured images that fit our size and quality guidelines immediately after a set releases can be challenging. For this reason we generally use high-quality basic land art from the sets. If high quality basic land art is not available or if you are reviewing gold, colorless, and lands, then show the art of one of the cards you’ll be reviewing, preferably one of the rares, or a particularly exciting piece of art.
Organization: Organize cards by rarity, then alphabetically. This can be flexible if you provide a compelling reason.
Templates will be created and shared before all of the spoilers have been released.
The templates will have the following already filled in:
- Intro – this may be changed.
- Headers, paragraphs, [scry img]s, and column formatting
- A “read more” section that will display the other set reviews when they are published
- Categories: Set Review, Name of Set
- Tags: All require tags, set tags, New Sets, Color (White, Blue, Black, Red, Green, Colorless, Lands)
Take a quick look at the most recent set reviews to gain an idea of how they they should be formatted:
At the time we release set reviews, we will not yet have the card image tags for the upcoming set.
DO: Include images of every card you discuss. Readers need to see the stuff you’re talking about.
DO: Continue to use card tags as normal, with [ca rd][/ca rd]. Once we update, these tags will update.
DON’T: Neglect to include images. I can’t stress this enough, the image tags aren’t there yet, so we have to provide images to give readers a hand.
DON’T: Include a decklist. The turnaround time on review articles is important, so we don’t want to take too much time arranging the perfect 100.
DO: Pick only the relevant cards. There are dozens of cards for each color in every new set, and they’re not all going to be gems.
DON’T: Talk about every single card. No one wants to read about the new set’s Healing Salves. Readers already know that a bunch of the new cards are for Limited, and no one enjoys reading about four cards in a row that won’t have any impact in Gladiator.
Some authors have given some extra flair to their reviews. You’re welcome to do this, but it is not required.
The formatting detailed above is simple, but effective. Sometimes, though, authors can give some extra structure to a review that makes it more engaging.
This red review on EDHREC, for example, discusses cards in different sections.
We do want to keep the set reviews fairly uniform, as readers will often read several reviews in a row, and a different style for each article can really throw them off. If, however, you have a review format you’d like to try, you can absolutely try it, but it should be for a good reason. If you’re going to change the formatting, it should be so darn good that we’ll want to change our traditional template.