AGNR Groups

Web Groups for the College of Agriculture &
Natural Resources and Affiliates

Writing for Print and Web Publication

The following is a generalized 5-step process for creating a written work and publishing online

Step 1. Develop Your Concept and Begin Planning Your Project.

Before you start to write, make sure you can answer most of these questions:

  • What is the purpose of your project?
  • Who is your intended audience?
  • Explain the need for your project.
  • Does another good source of this information already exist? If so, explain the value of your project.
  • What is the format of your project and the approximate quantity you’ll need if it goes to print?
  • What is your source of funding?
  • When will your draft be completed?
  • When is the finished project needed?
  • How will you measure the success or effectiveness of your project?

Step 2. Do Your research.

Step 3. Write your manuscript.

See the additional resources in this section for lots of tips about writing for specific audiences.

Step 4. Choose and/or create tables, figures, photos, illustrations.

Step 5. Fulfill your copyright obligations and secure any permissions.

Obtain the copyright owner’s permission for any written copy, tables, figures, photos, etc.—including material appearing on the World Wide Web—that are not your own & that you wish to use in your publication (even if borrowed text or images don’t have a copyright notice). However, as an educator be aware of your right to the fair use of copyrighted material without permission, if certain conditions are met.

Download a sample letter of permissions (Microsoft Word file), which includes a sample copyright permissions form to be returned to you by the creator of the original work.

More information about copyright

Step 6: Edit your publication.

For any publication or institution, ensure that your publication adheres to its style guidelines. See the University of Maryland Extension Style Guide for requirements specific to UME.

Most experts agree that effective editing is an important element in good writing. The following tips will help you improve your writing through effective editing.

  • Let your work sit for a while—24 hours if possible—before editing it. You’ll view it with a fresh perspective.
  • Be brutal with your first draft. Delete, substitute, rearrange, and insert as necessary.
  • Read the copy aloud for content and style. When it comes to detecting errors, the ear is more efficient than the eye.
  • Make sure your organization is easy to follow—that copy moves logically from beginning to end and doesn’t ramble and confuse.
  • Make sure copy for news releases and news articles explains who, what, when, where, why, and how.
  • Get rid of every word that adds nothing to meaning.
  • Substitute short, punchy words for long, showy ones.
  • Replace abstract words and terms with concrete ones.
  • Avoid jargon or technical terms. When you have to use technical terms, explain them.
  • Use the strongest verbs possible.
  • Vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs; an occasional one- or two-word sentence or one-sentence paragraph can add interest and emphasis.
  • Avoid having paragraphs that are more than four or five sentences long.
  • Put yourself in the reader’s place and reread your copy to be sure nothing can be misinterpreted.
  • Run your copy through spell-check, print it out, and read the hard copy for any grammar, punctuation, and word usage problems. (Remember that spell-check doesn’t catch wrong words that are spelled correctly.) Make sure any proper nouns are spelled correctly and that all numbers, dates, URLs, etc., are correct.

Step 7. Publish.

If you are publishing online, you may have permission to publish without any further steps (See the AGNR Website Manual for information about publishing to AGNR websites).

If you are planning on creating a print publication, additional steps will be required to meet the submission guidelines of your chosen publication.