Style Guide

By: HODP Content Team

For overall guidelines, refer to this document or ask the content team, particularly your lead editor, who will email you when the publishing process begins with an introduction.

Writing Your Article

Keep in mind these are for traditional text-based articles. If you're submitting a scrollytelling project, a webapp, or an article heavily reliant on interactive viz or other React components, react out to the content team for advice!z

Items to Turn in

A Google folder that includes

  • Google doc draft that includes
    • List of all main authors
    • A few notable sentences commented as “pull quote”. These will be bolded in the article and should contain important analysis or insight
    • At least 4 high quality images/graphs placed in your doc where you want them to appear
    • Link to a GitHub repo with raw data, cleaned data, and code for your analysis
      • Don’t include any survey data or personally identifiable data. You’ll work with your content ed to publish these carefully
    • Captions for all images
    • Sources for images/designs/graphics that are not your own, listed in the caption for the image in parenthesis
    • In-text hyperlinks to any outside reference sources you used
    • List of acknowledgements for anyone who supported your project
  • A doc that has some subset of {concentration, year, house/dorm, a short bio} for each author! Put as much as you’re comfortable with. Examples at
  • Profile pics of all the article’s authors for your HODP website profile, if you’re comfortable
  • All the graphs/images in your draft, included in the folder as images (in addition to being placed correctly in the doc)


The best way to adhere to formatting rules is to use the HODP [article template] (

  • Ensure your images are placed in the article draft where you want them located, that they’re large and of high quality and resolution, and that each image has a caption and source (if the source isn’t you)
  • Don't put images and text next to each other, format them one after another
  • Articles should have at least 4 visuals. Most have 5-10.
  • Specify 3-5 pull quotes by commenting "pull quote" around them. These should be meaty but concise insights or trends you don't want your reader to miss
  • Use bolding and italics sparingly but effectively
  • Give your article a title and subtitle. Title should be shorter and engaging but capture the gist of the article subject. The subtitle is where you can go more in detail. This subtitle will be the exceprt previewed on social media in the homepage of our website
  • Hyperlink external sources and other HODP articles that you reference

Check out our article guide for guidlines and advice for the actual content of your article. This guide is just for formatting and style.


  • Avoid memes and gifs
  • Keep it conversational, but polished enough live on our site permanently
  • Avoid snark and sarcasm, but occasional humor or references to Harvard culture is fine
  • Be clear and concise
  • Avoid presenting opinions and advocating for solutions to problems unrelated to your data and its specific insights. You can hypothesize or speculate on specific trends if you acknowledge it's speculation
  • Maintain high technical standards in your analysis, but explain all your terms and statistical concepts in the article text

Writing Style

  • If you're unsure about wording, capitalization, commas, and other specific syntactical issues, use the HPR Style Guide (page 9 onwards).
  • Note that we're typically more lax than them, so if you're only publishing with us, we won't be super picky about this.
  • Do be consistent. Regardless of the convention you pick for a term or capitalization, for example, use it throughout.
  • Check out our article guide for advice on writing and content.


  • All sources should be linked inline (hyperlink the relevant words)
  • Images should have the source in the caption in parenthesis, including if it was a graph created by someone on the HODP team.


All static graphs should be produced in R using ggplot or in Python using ggplot, or in plotly. We have specific standards for graph fonts, formatting, and colors. This will show you how to generate graphs that adhere to these standards in R, and this will show you the same for Python.

Some tips on which types of charts to use when:

  • Your article should include 4+ graphs. We strongly prefer graphs or charts, either static or interactive. We likely won't publish tables or lists.
  • All graphs should include capitalized, specific, and concise titles and axis labels.
  • Add a legend if and only if there is more than one data series.
  • Please add captions to all figures.


As the Open Data Project, we liked to publish all our data and analysis publically. Put your cleaned data and analysis code in a GitHub repo, and link the repo in your article doc. If your data has sensitive info (survey data demographics, for example), remove it before commiting.

When referencing data in article text, consider how precise you need to be to get across the main point (e.g. round “$5.97 per person” to “nearly $6 per person”). All of the numbers in your article should be the important ones; do the “so what?” test. Make sure you label all data references with the correct, descriptive unit (e.g. About 1 in every 6 Lowellians in our sample reported owning AirPods).

Publishing Process

  1. Turn in your rough draft with the components outlined above
  2. Your content editor will reach out via Slack and/or email with a timeline for publishing your article and to schedule at 30-min Round 1 Editing Meeting.
  3. At the Round 1 Editing Meeting, the editor will give you feedback on your article. If there are major edits, you may be asked to re-draft or add components to your project before re-entering the publishing process. If there are no major edits, you'll have a week to 10 days before your final editing meeting
  4. The Final Editing meeting, which will happen with a different content editor, will be 30 minutes and go over any last-minute changes to your piece. You'll again have about a week for final fixes after this meeting.
  5. Soon after, you'll be published on our website! The actual pubbing of articles on social media might be delay so we can space out articles to 2 a week.

To be publishd, you must have posed and answered (or determined we cannot answer) a meaningful and interesting question related to Harvard. You'll need strong writing, an engaging narrative, correct and useful statistical analysis, and quality visualizations.