2 Minute Approval Tip: Properly Format Your Articles

Episode 5 of the “2 Minute Approval Tips” video series.

This series is designed to help get your articles approved on the first submission. We’ve looked at past submission records to find the most common reasons why articles aren’t approved on the initial try. Since we know your time is precious, we’ve compressed this information into individual 2-minute videos.

In comparison to other important aspects of article writing, formatting the article properly just seems so … trivial. Yet it’s not. When you take the extra effort to format your articles properly, readers can simply absorb your wisdom rather than spending extra time sifting through an unbroken string of words and characters searching for their meaning. It’s much easier for them to decipher the message in your article when visual cues are used to break up the article and manage the flow of information.

In this “2 Minute Approval Tips” episode, I’ll share some basic formatting guidelines that’ll help you avoid common formatting issues so your readers can clearly understand your message.

Downloadable Versions:
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If you don’t have two minutes to spare, here’s a quick recap of the fifth “2 Minute Approval Tip”:

  • Use Hard Line Breaks Between Paragraphs – Use one hard line break between paragraphs to break up large chunks of text. Remember that each new thought deserves a new paragraph. This sets the pace of the article and gives readers a cue as to when the next thought is coming. Pressing the “Enter” key once automatically inserts the necessary line between paragraphs in the WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) submission editor.
  • Format Lists Correctly – Bulleted and numbered lists are simple ways to share information with the reader. If you know how to write HTML code, use <ol>, <ul> and <li> tags to format lists. If not, format lists through the WYSIWYG submission editor by clicking the “Insert List” button and separating items with a single return.
  • Place One Space After Most Punctuation Marks – There should be a space after each comma, colon, semi-colon and at the end of each sentence. If you do not have good spacing, your article won’t be approved for publication on EzineArticles. (Note: Apostrophes should not have a space after them if they are used in a contraction. Nor should quotation marks have a space before the quoted text.)
  • If You Are Unsure, Ask – If you are unsure whether you are formatting your articles correctly, have a friend who has an understanding of the English language proofread your article. Ask them to pay attention to any issues you may not fully understand.

Watch for more “2 Minute Approval Tips” in the coming weeks. And before you submit your next set of quality, original articles, leave us a comment to share one of your own formatting tips.


Gerry writes:

Hi Marc, thanks for the tip.

Some good articles are made unreadable because of poor formatting. Formatting is just as important as style, grammar and flair.

May I also suggest the use of bolding and italics to highlight key points. It helps guide the eye.


Comment provided August 16, 2010 at 12:50 PM


The period in dollar amounts.
The periods in ellipses: You say no spaces there, remember?
Some people may consiter the @ sign a punctuation mark.
The dollar sign.
The percent sign.
The asterisk.
The open parenthesis., of all three orders.
The hyphen.
You say, the dashes.
The diagonal.
The pound or hash sign.
Even those ^ Marks.
Not to mention the marks that go over letters, `~.
The plus and minus signs.
And I don’t know where you get the idea there is only one space after the period, the question mark, the colon, the exclamation point. There are two.


Emily, thanks for providing the list of “exceptions to the rule” – in English grammar there are always, always exceptions.


Peter G writes:

I hope you don’ t end up with a bunch of submissions that have spaces after ” all punctuation marks. ”

Apostrophes should not have a space after them if they are used in a contraction. Nor should quotation marks have a space before the quoted text.

Perhaps I’m being too academic.

Comment provided August 16, 2010 at 1:35 PM


Nope, you’re not being too academic. You’re exactly right and I’ve updated this Blog posting to reflect that.

Thanks so much for calling it to our attention! :-)


Marvin writes:

Thanks for these reminders. I do am conscious about formatting, so much so that my previous boss made fun of me for it. Now I feel vindicated :)

Comment provided August 16, 2010 at 4:51 PM



Since when is there only one space after a period or question mark at the end of a sentence? Every typing class, every typing textbook, says there are two.

Are you trying to save space in cyberspace?

Comment provided August 16, 2010 at 9:06 PM


Marvin writes:

We had a typing class in high school. I don’t recall being taught to put two spaces after every period or exclamation point. Maybe I was not paying attention. But I’m glad EzineArticles does not require two.


Angela writes:

Emily is spot on. 2 spaces.


Paul writes:

Emily, you are right that there is a whole generation who learned to type on typewriters and were taught to use two spaces at the end of sentences. However, they were also taught to put a carriage return (literally!) at the end of each line. The rules for word-processing are different to those for mechanical typewriting and in the on-line world the use of double-spaces is, thankfully, dead.


Emily Sandstrom writes:

The whole generation that learned to separate sentences with two spaces learned so much more. The two spaces are not dead, Paul, in the real world, only in the world of recently educated people who can say “are different to,” instead of “from.” Usually they say “different than.” “Put a carriage return”? Unless you moved the page down a line, which is what “carriage return” is, the did not type any farther.
The extra space also appears after exclamation points and questions marks, as well as colons. Why? Because those are ends of thoughts.
That is also why we put an extra line after paragraphs.


Paul writes:

‘Unless you moved the page down a line, which is what “carriage return” is, the did not type any farther.’

Yes, I understand, and that was my point – what was previously required for mechanical typewriters is no longer required. It wasn’t a criticism of previous practice (or, indeed of people who learned to type “properly”), just that not all rules last forever.

PS: We all make grammatical and typographical errors. “… the did not type any farther.”?


Grammar rules change with time and vary by country. In the case of the spaces after a period, the currently accepted rule in the U.S. is 1 space after a period.


Peter G writes:

I actually read about the issue of one-space or two-spaces after a sentence recently on Slashdot. It seems that the double-space after a sentence is a leftover from the age of typewriters. Due to the more advanced typography available in digital media it is no longer needed.

Also, when a web page is displayed all whitespace is condensed into a single space. So even though I’m using two spaces after each of these sentences you’ll only see one.



Comment provided August 16, 2010 at 9:12 PM


Emily Sandstrom writes:

Not really. Your writing appears in my email with a nice normal two spaces right where they out to be, Peter.



firstly, i must say thank you, as your article’s advice, my submition of the articles in other sites always been approved quickly, from you article and my operation, i feel the skill is so important in submit the article.
Sincerely say tks.

Comment provided August 17, 2010 at 4:01 AM


Barbara Grassey writes:

I was taught to put two spaces after a period or question mark. I think it is considered “old school” now.

I really flinched when I heard the words “read more easy”. Ouch. How about “easily”? :)

Comment provided August 17, 2010 at 9:44 AM


We’re always trying to practice what we preach, so thanks for pointing out the grammatical error. Where did you see/hear that?



I can’t wait to write my first EzineArticles ARTICLE:

I am presently working on my first Blog :

It won’t be long before I am ready to write for : –


Cheers !! Ray.

Comment provided August 17, 2010 at 10:18 AM


John J Adams writes:

Marc, hard breaks are one thing I have the most problem with. I write the article in Word XP and then cut paste into the EzineArticles editor. When I do this it uses a combination of p tags and br tags. Can I just use all p tags or do I still need the br tags or only double br tags? I sorry but I after writing 12 or so articles I still don’t get it.

Comment provided August 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM


Probably the easiest way to manage this, John, is to turn on the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor by clicking on the green button. This will insure that the hard breaks come out looking as you had intended.


Walter Werner writes:

That’s a long list of thoughtful and useful comments in front of me. Let me just add a thank you for all of your tips.

Comment provided August 17, 2010 at 1:32 PM


gary springer writes:

The reason for the double space after the period is to add seperation between sentences the same way an extra line is inserted between pararaphs.

Even high quality print has the extra space at the end of a sentence.

If the extra space is such a problem, why don’t they eliminate the extra line between paragraphs?

I never knew this was a formatting problem and don’t understand why it is. I have been forever correcting text by adding the extra space when it is ommitted.

Furthermore, I don’t understand the need to discuss formatting.

If I type an article in word pad and paste it into EzineArticles, that should be all the formatting I need with the exctption of hypertext.

If that doesn’t work, maybe EzineArticles should pick a text program that will work with a simple paste so formatting is no longer a problem.

Learning computers is like leraning a language. It is very easy when you grow up with it but next to impossible when you try to learn a new language at age 50 which is the age of some of us when we first saw a windows application or “mouse”.

Furthermore, most programs do the formatting for the typist. Why isn’t that the case for EzineArticles?

If formatting is making a lot of head aches, maybe there is some programming work that needs to be done on the EzineArticles end.

I can never get the bullets right when I publish into EzineArticles. And, all sorts of wierd things happen when I try to edit the article in the EzineArticles text entry block using the bold function.

I always need to edit in word re-paste it back into the EzineArticles text block. I lose hours trying to get the articles to look right and most of the time just settle for an article that is so-so because I can’t control the positioning of the words like I can in all other text programs I use.

By the way, I don’t get a message to confirm the receipt of my response to this forum after I click “Submit Comment”. User friendly is one term us old timers do understand, although many companies are not interested in the concept.

Comment provided August 22, 2010 at 8:18 AM


Emily Sandstrom writes:

I am with you all the way, Gary. I call it the “Yellow Box Monster,” and it has made some outlandish remarks to me. I love writing but submitting articles to EzineArticles is something my stomach dreads. When my old web site was something EzineArticles complained about, I said, “I’ll submit more articles when it’s fixed.” That became nearly a half a year. I have a stack of articles that sail past Self Growth’s site, that – if I endeavor submitting all thirty or so to EzineArticles – will drive me to drink or homicide.

The single space is yet one more symptom of the lack of understanding of language that occurs as a result of a combination of poor education and poorly motivated students. Handwriting is a glaring example!

Comment provided August 23, 2010 at 11:39 AM


Walter Werner writes:

Boy, this one really hit a nerve. I also learned to type when two spaces were required at the end of a sentence. I haven’t noticed any difficulty getting my articles published. The yellow box doesn’t seem to hate me. I guess I don’t really understand all the fuss.

Comment provided August 23, 2010 at 6:25 PM


Michael Keller writes:

Marc, I love your two minute videos… I did not watch them before submitting my very first article, but I have a good feeling that I actually followed your advice before I recieved it!
Have a fun day,
Mike Keller

Comment provided August 29, 2010 at 12:13 AM


Walter Werner writes:

Wow! My third comment on this subject. Marc, at least you know we are all watching your videos. If we weren’t there would be one comment after this post.
Please keep up the good work.

Comment provided August 30, 2010 at 12:08 PM


jon bone writes:

Nice video, helps people like me who have not got great writing skills but want to improve.

Comment provided October 20, 2010 at 4:54 AM


Dave Hallett writes:

One thing that ALWAYS gets me is the MISUSE of apostrophes.That little (‘)
Even good writers are prone to put them where they shouldn’t be. Examples I’ve seen recently” washer’s and dryer’s,
etc., etc.
Washers and dryers, values, and coupons are obviously NOT possessive nouns. They are simply plural nouns and don’t need an apostrophe.

Ours and theirs are already possessive. They don’t need an apostrophe either.

These are simple little things, but when I see them, (especially when a good writer misuses that little ‘ )it drive me nuts!

In my mind, nothing detracts more from a good article than improper punctuation!

Comment provided December 1, 2010 at 4:21 PM


Basilio T Castaneda writes:

One space or two, I don’t believe either used should be a “deal breaker” as, when I learned to type in High School, it was two spaces and a carriage return. But I never really subscribed to that edict so that, with the onset of word processors, I immediately converted to the one space modus operandi.

Let not these details detract from good content being the target issue here, eh? But do pay attention to how it may inform or not anyone interested in your data and colorful methods to portray this information. All this and these may be details but I’ve
heard the Devil lives there?!?

Comment provided December 7, 2010 at 6:17 PM


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