The Writers’ Reference
Hello! We’re excited to see your work for Finer Things.
Please use this page to prepare your work to match our content and style. Contributors who closely follow our guidelines are more likely to be published.
On this page, you can review helpful references to do the following:
The Finer Things Ethos
Who We Are and What We Do
Finer Things publishes well-researched, engaging articles for women over 40 about fashion, health, entertainment, relationship, finances, home design, technology, career, women’s issues, travel, and more.
What We Publish
We publish evergreen articles with practical tips and advice for our readers. Our readers are women of all ages but primarily in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and up so your content must be relevant to them. We are a collective of diverse women from different backgrounds. Women of all generations — our mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters — shape our lives and viewpoints.
Are you someone who is the go-to fashionista in your circle? Are you someone who is known for their knack of storytelling? Do you love to keep up with trends in beauty and wellness? Do you have a great recipe to share? Are you someone who isn’t afraid to talk about issues important to women?
Our goal is to educate, inform, and delight our specific readership.
What We Don’t Publish
We don’t publish purely self-promotional articles or content that promotes products, services, or businesses you own.
We won’t publish your personal story unless there is a big lesson or takeaway that benefits our audience. For first-person, personal essay-style articles, the subject must reflect an experience, learning curve, or educational angle that helps the reader.
Our Ideal Contributors Have (but not required):
- A dynamic background, unique viewpoint, and fresh perspective
- Advanced degrees (M.D., J.D., Ph. D., M.S., M.F.A., M.B.A.)
- High-caliber expertise or extensive life experience on a specific topic or interesting experiences to share about life, learning, and discovery
- Opinions they can articulate with respect, and in most cases, researched evidence
Our Submission Rules
The Finer Things editorial staff may edit, change, or alter your submission as necessary at our sole discretion per our editorial standards.
We reserve the right to include or add links and ads in your article.
We reserve the right to reject articles we find unsuitable for our readers’ interests at our sole discretion. Finer Things cannot compensate you for your article now or in the future.
In exchange for being published on Finer Things, the ownership of the content shifts to Finer Things, and we are free to republish your work or parts of it on other websites at our sole discretion.
By submitting an article to Finer Things editorial staff, you consent that we’ve collected and stored your data.
You must also agree that you have reviewed, understood, agreed to, and are bound to the information contained on this page. Upon emailing your submission, you must agree to our terms, editing, and ownership of materials.
Unfortunately, we can’t respond to every submission. If we approve your article for publication, you’ll hear back from us within five business days.
*Do not send multiple submissions at one time. If you haven’t heard back from our editors, please wait two weeks before re-submitting.
Our Submission Process
You should already be signed up with a Contributor account. If not, please visit our site to sign-up.
Once you have an account, you must confirm it via our email confirmation before you can submit any work. Your activation email may take several minutes to arrive, and it could be in a spam folder.
If your activation email does not arrive, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To submit a new article, click “Submit An Article.”
Fill out all the submission fields. Be sure to follow our style guide for proper title capitalization.
[talk about pasting – is formatting lost?]
[what is excerpt used for – provide guidance for writer in selecting it]
Once you’ve filled out all fields, click “Contribute” to send your article to us.
From there, our editors will review your submission within a week. Published articles will appear on your Contributor Dashboard.
Finer Things Article Preparation
After writing, please ensure that finished articles provide these items and follow these quick rules to make the editing workflow easier.
→ A title that follows Capitalization Style (of Titles & Headers)
→ A brief deck beneath the title
→ A byline that reads “By Firstname Lastname”
→ A minimum of 600 words (and maximum of 2,000)
→ All relevant links to support claims, opinions, or research
If you’d like to paste the bones into your document to start, here is a template.
Article Title Here in Title Caps
This article is sure to be a good example of how to format!
By Firstname Lastname
Now, the article begins in earnest. Here I’m writing some filler content and hoping that our writer is having a great day right now working on this…
Quick Formatting Rules
1. Use H2 formatting for the article title only. For formatting within the body of the article, use H3 formatting and downwards.
- To format this way on Google Docs, click “Normal text” in the top bar and select the proper styling from the drop-down menu.
2. Break up content with appropriate sub-headings and paragraph breaks so it is digestible. The vast majority of articles should have some sub-headings to divide content.
3. Avoiding pasting working notes or links throughout the body of the article. Anything that shouldn’t be included in the article on the site, try to avoid having in the content of your draft (or it may get missed in editing). Create active hyperlinks where they should be in the final articles.
4. If your article is related to another article we’ve previously published, include a note at the beginning of your content explaining the connection.
Finer Things Style Guide
The Finer Things Style Guide aims to provide a reference for the common standards for language and grammar across all content.
Finer Things is a community. Our style and language reflect that with precise, yet relaxed guidance for style. Consistency supports our high standards in reporting content while every author’s stylistic choices are part of the personalities of our people.
Finer Things’ preferred dictionary is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, except for special cases listed below. General grammatical style follows the Associated Press Stylebook except for special cases listed below. Our specified guidelines below take priority to any conflicting guidelines in either Merriam-Webster’s dictionary or the AP Stylebook.
This style guide draws from the example set by Buzzfeed for comfortable, colloquial language. Our style guide is updated as needed. It was last updated September 1st, 2021.
Use the below links to rapidly review specific sections of our guide.
→ Capitalization Style (of Titles & Headers)
→ Capitalization (Grammar)
Key Rules for AP Style & Finer Things
As access to the full Associated Press Stylebook is not freely accessible, the core tenants are below for our contributors including the exceptions dictated by our personal style.
Generally, don’t use acronyms. Spell out the full title on the first mention and use a generic alternative for variation following.
As needed, contributors may use acronyms. The full title should be used on the first mention and the acronym listed in parentheses and following references should consistently use the acronym. This is only acceptable for well-known acronyms when the full title would be unnatural to our core readership.
→ The Center for Disease Control (CDC)
→ North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
→ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
In the case where the acronym is more commonly known than the full term (as in MP3s), then the acronym should be used rather than the full term.
Yesterday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that the need for masks in public has declined. This is now the fifth time the CDC has changed common guidance for mask usage in the past year.
When a specific address isn’t listed, spell out the generic parts of street names. When a specific address is listed, abbreviate generic parts: avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.), street (St.).
Shopping along Main Street South is a must during your visit. The Airbnb itself is located at 1234 S. Main Street, so you won’t have to walk far.
Capitalization Style (of Titles & Headers)
Article titles should be written with title cap: “The Top 10 Gadgets You Need.”
Upper-level headers use title case capitalization. For long headers (over 35 characters) for lower-level headers, sentence case may be used.
For title case capitalization: Capitalize all words except conjunctions (and, of, but, nor, yet, so, for), articles (a, an, the), or prepositions (in, to, of, at, by, up, for, off, on). Always capitalize the first and last words of a header, though even if they are usually an exception.
Capitalization in Titles
Capitalize words when they are a part of a formal title, but not when they are used as a regular noun.
→ “The Southington School Board met Tuesday.” versus “She sits on the local school board.”
→ “The Mississippi River is a sight to behold.” versus “The river outside only adds to the ambiance.”
Capitalization of Titles
Capitalize formal titles that appear directly before a name (as part of an introduction), but do not capitalize when they are used alone or follow a name.
Governor John Smith agreed with Jane Doe, the director of Public Health. The governor said, “She is our expert, and I trust her.”
Capitalization of Directions
Capitalize directional indicators when they refer to a specific geographic region or the popularized name for a region. Otherwise, they are lowercase.
→ the Midwest
→ the Northeast
The Midwest has a huge variety of landscapes. In the north, you tend to find more forests and lakes. In the south, you’ll find a prevalence of plains and rock formations.
Dates, days, and times
Finer Things Style Guide has several exceptions from AP Style in regards to dates, days, and times.
→ Dates may use the added endings as natural speech does: st, nd, rd, or th (as in November 3rd).
→ When a phrase lists only month and year, spell out the month and do no separate with a common (November 2021).
→ When a full date is listed in-article, separate the day and year with a comma (November 3, 2021). For short-hand use, the date style is as follows: 06.28.2021
→ Months should be spelled out, not abbreviated.
→ Use AM or PM as shown.
Links should be hyperlinked to the referencing text. Do not paste links into the body of an article. Avoid phrasing a sentence with phrasing such as “click the link here.” If a full link must be shown written out, format it at the end of a sentence with a colon.
When planning your trip, fill out the appropriate forms. Prior to your trip, find the most updated information on their government site: website.gov.
Use a person’s full (first and last) name on their introduction. On the second reference and onwards, use only their last name with no title. Do not use courtesy titles unless needed for clarity.
Spell out numbers one through nine and use digits for numbers 10 and up except for common exceptions. Spell out numbers at the start of a sentence, but not years (like 1996).
→ Addresses (“5 Main St.”)
→ Ages of pets and people (“their 4-year-old son sat in the four-year-old car”)
→ Money, both for listing cents and dollar amounts
→ Dates (“March 4th”)
→ Highways (“Route 8”)
→ Speed (“8 mph”)
→ Temperature (2 °F)
→ Time (“4 PM” or “4:23 PM”)
AP Style has additional exceptions that Finer Things does not use. These include:
→ Millions and billions (“one billion people”)
→ Percents (“one percent”)*
* Percents differ based on sentence structure. Within a sentence’s main phrase, the number and “percent” should be spelled out, as in, “One percent of people agree.” However, when a percentage is cited as an aside, it should be listed with a numeral and “%”, as in, “Very few people (1%) agreed.” The percent sign can be used when citing research results as well.
Use commas to set off groups of three digits in numerals higher than 999 (except for years and addresses).
Use decimals, up to two places, for amounts in the millions and billions that are not an even figure.
Add an s without an apostrophe to make a number plural except when shortening a decade: “In a row, they rolled four 7s”, the 1990s, or the ‘80s.
Use hyphens for separating numbers: 123-4839-0493
→ For plural nouns ending in s, add only an apostrophe.
→ For singular common nouns ending in s, add ‘s.
→ For singular proper names ending in s, use only an apostrophe.
→ For singular proper names ending in s sounds such as x, ce, and z, use ‘s.
→ For plurals of a single letter, add ‘s.
→ Do not use ‘s for plurals of numbers or multiple letter combinations.
Finer Things uses the Oxford Comma in a list or series of three or more. Commas may be used for stylistic phrasing within sentences at the editor’s discretion.
Use hyphens to link all words in a compound adjective. Do not use a hyphen to attach “-ly” for an adverb.
Finer Things uses parentheses for stylized writing, but generally full sentences do not use parentheses. Short sentences and phrases may be uses in parentheses at the editor’s discretion.
Period and Spacing
A single space should follow a sentence.
Single quotation marks should be used for a quote within a quote, but not for emphasis. For emphasis, contributors may italicize or bold words at the editor’s discretion.
Periods and commas go within the quotation marks.
Dashes, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation marks go within the quotation marks when they are applied to the quoted material; they go outside when they reference the whole sentence.
Use a semicolon to clarify a series that includes commas.
We’re rounding up our favorite Airbnbs across the South including New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Finer Things minimizes the use of state abbreviations. If used, they should be the standard two-letter abbreviation in full caps. Reference this list for the United States official abbreviations.
When listing a city, list the city and state (or country) together. For well-known cities, the state may be dropped for secondary appearances.
Finer Things italicizes the titles of long-form art forms including books, movies, series, magazines, and newspapers in title capitalization.
Inoffensive, light profanity is allowed in cases when it’s warranted or conversational at the editor’s discretion.
Disability, Addiction, and Mental Health
For guidance on respectfully addressing and referencing these topics, Finer Things uses the example set by Buzzfeed. The following is a direct quotation from their style guide:
→ We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advise: “In general, do not describe an individual as disabled unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. If a description must be used, try to be specific. An ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox swaying noticeably from the effects of Parkinson’s disease drew nationwide attention. Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with or suffers from multiple sclerosis. Rather, has multiple sclerosis. Do not use the word handicapped to describe people.
→ Use people-first language, i.e., using a person’s name or the terms person or people before a condition, to avoid phrasing that could be seen as defining someone by their disability, e.g., people with disabilities rather than disabled people.
→ Do not use the term mentally retarded. Mentally disabled, developmentally disabled, or intellectually disabled are preferred.
→ Use wheelchair users rather than “confined to a wheelchair” or ”wheelchair-bound.” If known/when possible, say why a wheelchair is used.
→ The lowercase deaf refers to someone with no hearing. The capitalized Deaf is used by members of the Deaf community in relation to identity and culture. Avoid using “hearing-impaired;” use phrasing such as “hard of hearing” or “partially deaf.”
→ Do not use the term “deaf-mute;” the preferred phrasing is that an individual cannot hear or speak. (A mute person may or may not be deaf.)
→ Avoid words that have ableist connotations or make light of disabilities (instead of “crippled” or “handicapped”, use “hampered,” “obstructed,” or “inhibited;” instead of “tone-deaf,” use “insensitive,” “obtuse,” or “oblivious)”.
→ The term sign language is lowercase, but capitalize American Sign Language (ASL on the second reference). Someone who communicates in sign language is a signer, e.g., an ASL signer.
→ For further guidelines, refer to the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s style guide and the National Disability Rights Network’s Guidelines for Reporting and Writing About People With Disabilities.
→ We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advises: “Avoid such expressions as He is battling cancer. She is a stroke victim. Use neutral, precise descriptions: He has stomach cancer. She is a stroke patient.”
Drug Use and Addiction
→ Follow AP guidance and use person-first language when writing about addiction.
→ Use terms like a person addicted to drugs or a person with drug addiction. Avoid addict, user, abuser, and other terminology that reinforces stigma or is derogatory.
→ Use person with alcoholism, a person recovering from alcoholism, or a person with alcohol addiction. Avoid an alcoholic unless individuals prefer that term.
→ Use terms like misuse, heavy use, or risky use when discussing addiction, which is a disease. Abuse can be stigmatizing.
→ Avoid ”clean” when talking about sobriety.
→ Do not use the terms addiction and dependence interchangeably. Addiction usually refers to a disease or disorder; dependence may not involve one, such as some babies born to mothers who use drugs or cancer patients who take prescribed painkillers.
→ Finally, avoid using the language of addiction to describe an activity someone does a lot (e.g., He is addicted to his phone; TikTok is addictive) and related derogatory terminology (e.g., He’s a TV junkie). Opt for phrasing like “She watches Netflix constantly” and “They can’t stop scrolling through Instagram.”
See our detailed guidelines for writing about mental health here, but generally:
→ Use words that end stigma, not perpetuate it. Avoid derogatory language like nuts, lunatic, deranged, psycho, and crazy, especially when referring specifically to people. Some alternatives: wild, interesting, exciting, shocking, and ridiculous.
→ Avoid using diagnosable conditions in a non-clinical sense. That is, don’t use terms like bipolar as a synonym for “moody” or OCD as one for “obsessive.”
→ We also adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines on mental illness, which include not describing a person as mentally ill “unless it is clearly pertinent to the story.” → → → →Mental illness is OK to use as a general term, but specific conditions should be used when possible. Do not use the term the mentally ill.
For Other Concerns
Buzzfeed’s style guide can be referenced for additional guidance on respectfully addressing subjects and formatting modern language around social media.
For new contributor submissions, additional stylistic concerns can be addressed after article acceptance.
For current contributors, for questions, potential updates or changes to this document, or specific exceptions, please connect with an editor via the article’s specific Asana task.