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Help: Contributing a News Story or a Feature Article to Virtual-Lancaster

NB. Our editing forms for adding items to Virtual Lancaster do not yet display as well as we'd wish in some browsers. If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your browser you may find it easier to switch to Chrome or current Firefox before adding content.
If that's not an option for you, you can still go ahead successfully, just please read this very brief and simple advice first.


By submitting content to Virtual-Lancaster for publication you agree to be bound by our Terms of Use.  Please read them. 

Before you start

How to start adding content
Main mage
Related Pages
Ready For Publication?
Revision Log
Want to come back later and change something? 
See also: The Virtual-Lancaster Writing Guide

Before you start....
A VL News Story is a current story about something that has happened, is happening or is going to happen, locally or with a specific local impact or connection, that would be of interest or use to our readers. 
Feature Article for VL is a more in-depth piece about anything local or happening locally that would be of interest and useful to our readers.  
NB: Content for Virtual-Lancaster must have a local angle, of local interest.  If you are unsure if your subject is appropriate, you are warmly welcome to  email to check.  
Embedded advertising is not permitted in VL content. Advertorial content about a particular business will only be accepted if the story is of real local interest. 
Virtual Lancaster reserves the right to decide whether submitted content is suitable for our publication. Take a look at our Terms of Use, our VL Writing Guide, and also at our Moderators' Guide, so you understand our criteria and how it's applied. 

How to Add Content:  
Click on the 'Post Your Item' link in the menu at the top of every page. 
On the 'Add Content' page, click on one of the  'Research and write a news story or a feature article'' links. A new page like a form will appear.  

Saving: Remember to always save whatever you write here, using the 'Save' button at the bottom of the page, before you exit this page or your work will be lost. Your work will not be published until it has been approved by a VL moderator. It will not be submitted for moderation until the the 'ready for publication?' box is ticked. You can always find and re-edit your saved, unpublished work by going to your account page (click on your name at the top right corner of the screen). Links to your work will appear on the right. 
Saved, unpublished work (including revisions) that lies dormant for more than two months may be deleted when a 'houseclean' is scheduled. To prevent this make sure you go back and edit and save your work again before two months has passed. 

Title: Readers may only see the Title on its own initially, presented as a link or when shared on social media.  So it should clearly indicate the central point of the story in an engaging and economical phrase or sentence. If it is vague or meaningless no-one will go to the trouble of clicking on it to find out what it is about.  A relevant Title should contain key search words for the story.
The title forms part of the URL of the page the story will appear on. If you change it later, the URL will change too. Links and sharing made previously to your story will be broken. So pick a title that's a keeper. 


Main Image: Adding a Main Image is optional. If you do it will appear on the right in your listing. Part of it will appear as a thumbnail with the Title + Teaser next to links to your listing.  

If you don't add a main image, your listing will automatically have the default main image, which is an outline image of the British Isles with Lancaster and Morecambe picked out on it. 
Image files must be less than 5 MB. Allowed file types are:  png, gif, jpg or jpeg. Images must be between 400 x 300 and 1024 x 768 pixels (H x W) or they might not come out right. If you aren't sure, try it and see if it is accepted. An image may be considered inappropriate for the VL website if it is unsuitable to be seen by a minor. Such content would include images trading on violence or sex or unlawful activity. Or if it's just really gross. 

To add an image, click the 'Select' button. Then pick one of the five tabs that appear in the Media Selector:

  • To UPLOAD an image from your computer, click 'Choose file' and browse for and open your image file. Then click the 'Upload' button. When your file is loaded, click 'Next'. 
  • To copy an image already on the WEB, enter its URL. You can find this in most browsers by right clicking on the image. Don't copy images that are copywrite and that you don't have permission to use, such as other people's photos or artwork. Then click 'Submit'. 
  • You can search the MEDIA BROWSER which holds all the images that we have collected. You can search by name, by entering tags or by date range. (To add a date, e.g. 25th February 2017, enter it in YY-MM-DD format, ie 17-02-28).  Then click 'Apply'. Select your image and click the 'Submit' button at the bottom of the page. Don't use copywright images without the owners' consent.
  • YOUR MEDIA contains images you alone have added preciously. 
  • STOCK MEDIA contains image that are frequently useful on the website. Don't use copywright images without the owners' consent.

If your image is new, you are give the the options of adding a caption (that will appear under your image), 'alt' text (words that appear if a mouse rolls over your image), a Title (for people using audioreaders), and tags 'Tags' are the search words you'd use if you were looking for your image. I.e, if your picture is of a dog, put 'dog'. 
Then click 'Save', After you have saved your image you will have the option to remove and replace it later. 


Teaser: The Teaser is a sentence or line or two that often appears with the Title in links to your story. The teaser should indicate what your story will tell readers if they click on the link. It 'sells' your story and is the part of your article that will be seen first and most.  Like the Title, a good Teaser is likely to contain the key search terms for the story. Maximum length is 300 characters. The Teaser is a link. It doesn't include other links. The Teaser is NOT SHOWN on the story's actual webpage, only in links to it. 


Body.  If you are using Internet Explorer as your browser, please read this first.
The Body is the main text people will see when they click through to your article. This is where you write your story. Use the formatting toolbar along the top of the 'Body' field to format the text and insert links. Remember that the Teaser never appears on the same page as the Body text. Some people may get to your story having seen only the Title, so if you want the content of the Teaser to appear as a part of your story or feature you must add it to the Body also. 

See 'Help: The Virtual-Lancaster Writing Guide' for more about how to write a News Story or a Feature Article for Virtual Lancaster. 

Don't forget to include hyperlinks to the sources for any publicly available information or research you quote. For example, if you quote statistics, include a link to the source of the statistical analysis so people can check for themselves. If you are using information from a report or article, please link to it.  
You can add more images in the Body field by clicking on the last icon on the right in the formatting toolbar above the Body field.  Their size and alignment  (centred) are fixed - you can't resize them. 


Tags: These are the search words people might use to find your article, or articles like yours. Or the search terms you want your article to answer to. Put a comma after each term.  Keep it simple. 


Add Related Page: These are other pages on the site, (listings, events or articles), that relate to the page you are creating.   Links to these pages will appear in the right margin on your story's page. Just start typing the title of the page you want to relate to and the form will give you a drop down list of possible options to choose from.  Suggested Related Pages could be: earlier / background articles about the story you are reporting or a listing for an event or a local venue or company mentioned in your story. These relations work both ways. A link to your article will also appear in the right margin of the Related Page/s. You can add more than one Related Page by clicking the 'Add another item' button. 


The 'Ready for Publication?' tickbox: All items have to be checked over by our Moderators before they can be published. To submit your item to the Moderators for publishing, you MUST tick this box before you save the page. You can save your work to return later without ticking the box and it will not be queued for moderation. You can always come back and re-edit your article anytime by clicking on its link on your account page
Once it has been published, any new revisions will have to be passed by a Moderator again before they can replace the previous version. 


NB: You cannot 'unpublish' an article once it has been published. Only a moderator can take content offline or delete it. But you can edit it and submit a new revision of it, or you can edit it and add the word 'delete' to the title with a request and reasons for deletion in the Revision log message box and submit that. Remember, it will only be submitted for the Moderator's attention if you tick the 'Ready for Publication' box.

Please bear in mind that our news items form an archive of what was perceived and reported at a certain point in history. We can add updates or corrections to news articles but we can't rewrite history with the benefit of hindsight, to make it look as if its actors thought or acted more presciently than in the original and contemporaneous account. 
Keep backup copies of your drafts and articles. Articles / revisions left dormant and unready for publication for more than 2 months may be automatically deleted when a 'housecleaning' is scheduled. 

Revision log message: If your article / change is time sensitive, put your phone number here so the Moderator can contact you quickly if need be and sort out any needed changes they have identified.  Otherwise, if the Moderator has to make any significant changes or if they deem it unready or unsuitable for publication they can log an explanatory message here for you. 
You can leave the Moderator a message here, to explain any revisions you might decide to submit, if it's less obvious than just an update. 


Preview: You can see what your article will look like when it is published.  The Preview page is at the top of your edit form so just scroll down to return to it. There is a 'Save' button at the foot of the page. Don't forget to save your work before you close or exit the page or you will lose it.


Want to come back later and change something? You can come back and edit an item you have authored anytime you are logged in by going to its page (you will find a link to it on your account page), and clicking on the 'Edit' tab. Remember, your new revision will not appear until it has been moderated. It can only be submitted for the Moderator's attention if you tick the 'Ready for Publication' box. The VL rules for changing news items that have been published already are strict and changes normally can only include spelling / grammar corrections and added updates, which should include a date/time of entry.  Where changes are made an explanation for the change should be given in the revision log.  




When you are editing your item in the field of the form titled 'Body':

  • When addling links or email addresses, please do not use the hyperlink icon above the field to hyperlink them. Clicking this icon may freeze your window. You would have to close it and start over again.  To avoid this, simply write / copy in your URLs as ordinary text. Our moderators will take care of any required hyperlinking for you.
  • When you click into the 'Body' field your cursor may become 'drag-and-drop' (cross-shaped).  If so, click a second time into the 'Body' field to change your cursor into a text cursor (I - shaped). Then you can go ahead. We apologise for the clunkiness of that field in some versions of IE.

We are working to correct these issues as soon as possible. In the meantime, we greatly appreciate your spirit of can-do.