January Writing Tips: Let's Celebrate the Life and Works of David Bowie in Tweets

David Bowie at a Chicago concert in 2008. Photograph by Adam Bielawski from Wikimedia Commons used under (CC BY-SA 3.0)

David Bowie at a Chicago concert in 2008. Photograph by Adam Bielawski from Wikimedia Commons used under (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Weekly Writing Tips are a collection of best practices for writing and reporting at Global Voices. January's tips are brought to you by Amira, regional editor for the Middle East and North Africa.

This week's writing tips is all about tweets. The focus of our exercise will be celebrating the life and works of English singer David Bowie, who died at the age of 69 after battling liver cancer. BBC describes Bowie as “one of the most influential musicians of his era.” Many on Twitter share this sentiment and have been tweeting their hearts out since his family announced the news on the singer's official social media accounts, including Twitter:

I love using tweets in posts because they give me a wide spectrum of views from a cross-section of society.

What are GV's Guidelines on using tweets?

According to our Writing Style guide:

GV doesn't set a limit for number of tweets per post, but we recommend not including more than 8-10. Avoid adding tweets just to demonstrate a hashtag. Instead, mention the hashtag in the text.

It's important that we don't violate anyone's right to privacy in a quoted tweet. Don't quote from a private Twitter account. Be aware that Storify may bypass this.

Some tweets have to be anonymous to protect the Twitter user concerned. In these cases, try to give a little context if it will not impact the user. For example:

@anon_China, an anonymous Twitter user from Kunming province, China, tweeted on Friday, March 18:

Our posting guide has more:

Embedding tweets from Twitter.com

In most cases the best way to quote a tweet is using the embed code from Twitter:

  • Find the tweet on Twitter.com
  • Hover over the tweet and click the “•••more” button.
  • Choose “Embed” and copy the HTML that pops up.
  • Click on the “Text” tab of your post in WordPress, paste the embed HTML in to the post editor.

Note: This will not work with the “Visual” editor in WordPress. You will have to use the “Text” editor while embedding tweets.

The resulting code will have a <blockquote> with the full tweet text as well as a name credit and timestamp, which is convenient because it means you don't have to worry about those things. Even though it's simple in the editor, when you preview and publish your post, the tweet will show with images and Twitter styling because of Javascript.

Manually creating a tweet quote

If you decide for some reason not to use the embed code from Twitter, you should wrap the tweet text in a <blockquote> and ensure that it has the following elements inside:

  • The @name of the Twitter user linking to their profile.
  • The full text of the tweet, including any links.
  • If there are other @mentions in the tweet, link them to the relevant Twitter user.

Never insert a screenshot of a tweet into a posts

A screenshot of a tweet can seem like a simple solution, but has several flaws that make it unacceptable, including that they are not readable by visually impaired people and are hard for translators to manage. Please never use screenshots when quoting from Twitter.

Translating tweets

When the tweet is not in the same language as your post, simply include a translation blockquote (<blockquote class='translation’>) after the tweet embed code (<blockquote>). See the #Translation_Quotes section of this document for details and tips for using them.

  • Only translate the content of the tweet itself. The links, date and username will already be visible inside the original tweet embed.

  • Never translate the tweet embed code. Add a new translation blockquote for the translated text.

  • Do not translate hashtags.

  • If you need to add an editors note into your translation (e.g. to explain an abbreviation), wrap it in square brackets ([…]).

Now What?

I would like as many of you as possible to contribute tweets for a tribute post, which we will write together. The aim is to collect a spectrum of reactions, hopefully from around the world, to celebrate Bowie's art. Please fill in this form asap:

Thank you and see you next week with a new reminder of writing tips.


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