Writing Guidelines

95 Conversations

The Approved part of h2g2 consists of some of the best factual Entries on the site. In order to become Approved, Entries pass through Peer Review, where others can comment on it and suggest improvements. But what makes a good Approved Entry, and what can you do to increase your chances of us finding your prose irresistible enough to be promoted on the h2g2 homepage?

  • What Should I Write About?
    • Write about reality
    • Write about subjects that can be verified
    • Be original
    • Fill in the gaps
    • Write about what you're interested in
  • How Should I Write It?
    • Plan your Entry
    • Research your Entry thoroughly
    • Be instructive, informative and factual
    • Write Entries of appropriate length
  • What Sort of Style Should I Use?
    • Write in your own style
    • Don't try too hard to be funny
    • Try to make your entry balanced
    • Avoid writing in the first person
  • Anything Else?
    • Try to use good spelling and grammar
    • Linking to h2g2 Entries
    • Do not copy wholesale from other sources

What Should I Write About?

Write About Reality

Approved Entries should be about real events and things, not works of fiction, so please don't submit fiction to Peer Review. While we encourage colourful, interesting entries, dramatising past events can make entries less accessible to those looking for a straightforward factual account, and should usually be avoided. If you would like to write fiction, you'll find like-minded people in the Alternative Writing Workshop and at Another Galaxy Guide.

Write About Subjects that Can Be Verified

Some subjects are of immense interest to individuals but aren't necessarily relevant to a wider audience, such as inside jokes and phrases, or the acrobatic abilities of a pet dog. There are plenty of places on h2g2 that would love to hear about them - The Post, for example - but they're not what we're looking for in Approved Entries. The same goes for home-grown theories and contemporary poetry. Even if the subject of your entry isn't that well-known, the historical, scientific or cultural relevance should be fairly established if you're aiming for Approved Entry status.

Be Original

Unlike other sites, h2g2 tries hard to avoid overlap between Approved Entries. You should check to see whether an Approved Entry on the subject already exists using the search engine before starting to write your own contribution.

  • Approved Entries are marked as 'Approved'.
  • Entries on their way to becoming Approved are marked as 'Picked by Scout'.
  • If there's already an Approved or Picked Entry that covers the subject then there's no point in covering it again - try a different angle instead. Also, try to avoid putting an Entry into Peer Review that's similar to one that's in there already, as it upsets fellow Researchers.

    If you find out that, entirely coincidentally, you've been researching a topic that someone else is working on, why not collaborate on the Entry together?

    Fill in the Gaps

    We often receive helpful suggestions for new Approved Entries. If you discover any gaps, please do get writing and help us to fill them. Other ways to help include:

  • Browsing suggestions made by the H2G2 Community at the Challenge h2g2 forum.
  • Picking up an entry that needs finishing off at the Flea Market.
  • Browsing Categories for an obvious gap.
  • Write About What You're Interested in

    It's important to write about what you're interested in, even if you don't know much about it. Don't be put off - researching new things is all part of the fun.

    You'll see canny observation and personal perspective among the following entries:

    How Should I Write It?

    Plan Your Entry

    Plan your entry, and think carefully about its structure. If your entry is planned with care, it is more likely to flow well and will fall naturally into sections, as with the following Entries...

    Research Your Entry Thoroughly

    The starting point for many Entries is often passion or curiosity for a subject. Entries shouldn't be short on facts or detail and you should do your research. It's often clear when Researchers' entries are true labours of love:

    Be Instructive, Informative and Factual

    A potential Approved Entry should be instructive, informative and factual - if these three factors form the basis of your entry then you are heading in the right direction. We are often astounded by the quality and detail of some of the entries. Hats off to the Researchers of these great Entries:

    Write Entries of Appropriate Length

    We are not necessarily looking for long Entries, just well-researched, well-balanced, well-written ones. Researchers are much more likely to read Entries and comment on them if it's possible to read them in one sitting. As a general guide:

  • It's usually difficult to adequately cover a topic in less than 250 words.
  • If your Entry is getting a bit lengthy (1,200 words or more), you might consider splitting it into smaller sub-topics or a series of Entries.
  • Entries can be both factual and succinct, like these:

    What Sort of Style Should I Use?

    Write in Your Own Style

    Write in your own words, in a style that you're comfortable with. Each of the following entries has a completely different style, making h2g2 a varied and fascinating place to be.

    Don't Try Too Hard to be Funny

    Lots of our early Researchers thought that because the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books were funny, they should make sure all their Approved Entries were packed with side-splitting jokes. If you happen to be funny, that's great. Just don't try to force it.

    Try to Make your Entry Balanced

    h2g2 is a great place to get things off your chest, but for Approved Entries we're looking for balanced writing rather than subjective rants. We're looking for Entries that show both sides of the argument, especially on potentially contentious topics. (However, if you do have an Entry of strongly expressed opinion, please submit it to the Speaker's Corner.) Here are some examples of balanced Entries:

    Avoid Writing in the First Person

    h2g2 is a collaborative guide, and we may add in comments, updates and other material from other Researchers and we'll credit them. Having an Entry in the first person wouldn't make sense with a number of authors credited, so third-person approaches are often preferred.

    There are exceptions: certain topics can benefit from being told in the first person, and it might well be that your Entry is one of them. Examples of this would be Entries written from personal experience. Avoid using phrases like 'I think...' or 'in my opinion...' because they're signs that your Entry is almost certainly going in the wrong direction.

    Anything Else?

    Spelling and Grammar

    Please always try to use correct British English spelling and grammar, and make sure your GuideML works if you're using it1. You can find a bunch of useful tips in our entry on English Usage in Approved Entries. If you're not sure about a spelling, it's worth checking on our Spell Checker, and if you'd like help with English as a second language you should try the h2g2 Language Thing.

    Linking to h2g2 Entries

    When linking from an Entry you are approving to other h2g2 Entries, there are a couple of points to bear in mind:

  • The Entries linked to should also be Approved.
  • Links should be direct and relevant. For example, the word 'poetry' should link to Poetry, rather than Poetry Events and Gigs in Glasgow, which, though a laudable entry, does not define the word 'poetry'.
  • Do Not Copy Wholesale From Other Sources

    When you sign up to h2g2 you agree to the Terms and Conditions which includeS a section on not infringing other people's copyright.
    In other words, please do not copy chunks of text from other Internet sites or from anywhere else. Not only does plagiarising other people's work break our terms and conditions, it is also illegal in most countries. It also goes against the ethos of h2g2 where originality and personal research are respected and admired. While it's fine to quote from or reference other sources you should do so only with an accompanying credit; stealing wholesale from someone else's work is not appreciated. If it is discovered that you have been copying, the entry will be removed from the site and you could find your account at risk, so please don't do it.

    Other Useful Information

    The following entries might also be of interest:

    Thanks again for all your hard work - and remember, even if your Entry is not Approved, it will still be a part of h2g2 and will show up in the search engine. One of our guiding principles is that we never throw anything away - you never know when it might come in handy!

    1If you can't write in GuideML, it may be best to write in plain text and leave the subeditor to put in the code.

    Bookmark on your Personal Space



    Infinite Improbability Drive

    Infinite Improbability Drive

    Read a random Edited Entry

    Categorised In:

    Written and Edited by


    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.

    Write an Entry

    "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

    Write an entry
    Read more