Learning to Write on h2g2

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How to Write

The h2g2 Guide is unique - it's written by the very people who use the Guide, people like you. If you'd like to learn how to write, or to develop your writing skills, then here are a few places you might like to check out on h2g2.

Learning to Write Brilliant Guide Entries

One of h2g2's greatest aspects is that it's a brilliant place to learn how to write. Here are just a few of the places where you can do everything from learning the basics of creative writing, all the way to swapping writing tips with experts.

Two Pages to Read First

If you're new to writing, that blank piece of paper can be pretty daunting. Where can you get inspiration? How do you pick the right topic to write? And what about spelling, grammar and all the other things that are but a distant school memory? Read on...

  • The first thing that you need to think about is the topic you're going to write about, and the best way to think of a suitable one is to take a look at what's already in the Guide. You can find all sorts of helpful suggestions in our entry on Writing for the Edited Guide.

  • One of the most difficult things about learning to write is getting to grips with the language. Although a complete guide to writing in English is obviously a bit beyond the scope of this Workshop, we've put together an entry on English Usage in the Edited Guide which will tell you how we do things in the Edited Guide.

Using the Guide Entry Editor

The above pages will be very useful in helping you start, but the best way to learn to write is to actually sit down and do it. Nobody ever became a writer by just thinking about it, so the next thing you need to do is to actually create an entry.

You can create a Guide Entry by clicking the link at the top of this page. There are two ways to write entries - plain text and GuideML - and here are quick guides to creating your very own Guide Entries.

  • The easiest way to create a Guide Entry is in plain text, as described in the page on How to Write Entries and Postings in Plain Text. This requires minimal knowledge of text formatting and markup languages, but it does mean you miss out on effects like italics, bold and headers. However, it's a great place to start, so if this is your first Guide Entry, this is the best way to start.

  • If you learn How to Write Entries in GuideML then you'll be able to harness the power of the Guide - see the next section for information.

The Guide Entry Editor is also where you can put your entries into the various Review Forums, as described in the next section.

Talking to other Researchers

If you'd like some help on writing your magnum opus, then check out the following Review Forums (you can find out more about Review Forums in the h2g2 FAQ).

  • Where do I Start? If you'd love to contribute to the Guide but only have the germ of an idea, then the Collaborative Writing Workshop is a good place to check out. This is where you can ask for help from your fellow h2g2 Researchers. Don't be afraid to join in - it's the friendliest writing school on the planet!

  • The Writing Workshop: Once you've learned how to fill up that scary blank piece of paper, you'll probably want to write your own entries. If you'd like feedback on specific entries then the Writing Workshop is the place to go. Here you'll find people who can help you learn how to create masterpieces that will do you proud.

Finally, when your entry is ready for consideration for the Edited Guide, you might like to put it into Peer Review, which is how entries get into the Edited Guide - the best of h2g2.


GuideML is the markup language of the Guide, and allows you to add lots of great effects and extra information to your Guide Entries. If you're familiar with other markup languages like HTML then you'll find GuideML very easy to learn, but if you're just starting out we recommend you stick to writing in plain text until you're totally confident when writing Guide Entries, as there's a lot to learn.

However, if you want to learn about GuideML, then the best place to start is the GuideML Clinic. The Clinic contains everything from a basic introduction to GuideML, all the way to individual pages detailing every single tag in the language.

Using Pictures in your Guide Entries

If you want to use pictures in your Guide Entries, the h2g2 Design Team has put together a huge range of ready-to-use pictures in the h2g2 Picture Library. Each picture also comes with the GuideML required to put that picture into your Guide Entries or onto your Personal Space.

Currently you cannot add your own pictures, and you can't access off-site pictures (due to copyright issues).

Becoming an h2g2 Volunteer

h2g2 couldn't exist without its wonderful Volunteers, so if you're interested in contributing to h2g2 as an Ace, Guru, Scout, Sub-editor or Community Artist, do check out our Volunteers Page, where you can find all sorts of information on all five schemes.

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h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

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