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Cover image for How to write a high quality post on DEV

How to write a high quality post on DEV

Photo by Daniel Thomas

Writing your first post on DEV can be as unfussy as clicking on the Create Post button at the top of the screen (which takes you to https://dev.to/new) and jotting down some thoughts before hitting the juicy Publish button at the bottom of the screen.

That will get you started and on your way to publishing regularly, which is the key to creating connections with readers who engage with your work.

If you want to build your readership and engagement further, here are a few more tips and tricks to posting on DEV that you might want to know about:

How the editor works

This heading is a little misleading, because there are 2 editors to choose from right now. They're both markdown-based, but look and function a little different from each other:

There's Rich + Markdown
Rich plus Markdown editor

And Basic
Basic editor

You can switch between these in your User Settings under Customization (where you can also try out the different colour schemes featured in those screenshots - but I digress...), just bear in mind that posts previously published in one editor will continue to use that editor for any edits in the future.

While the Basic editor carries the post's meta-data in its header, the Rich version tucks it in around the edges. So, if you want a cover image in the Basic editor, you'll have to link to it in the header. Similarly, if you want to create a series or link to a canonical URL you'll need to add those in yourself.

We recommend reviewing Habdul's excellent, comprehensive guide to posting on DEV. Habdul builds on the Editor Guide in enough detail that you'll be a competent markdown writer and editor by the end of the post.

How to tag (and why you should)

Did you know that top posts under certain tags are eligible for badges each week? Additionally, having your post tagged correctly helps your audience find you, and avoids getting your post reported for suspicious behaviour.

Be sure to check out the tag descriptions for any tags you're planning to use and be sure you're following any posting guidelines. See #mentalhealth or #opensource for examples of tags that have descriptions and guidelines.

Considering accessibility

For clarity on what we mean when we talk about accessibility (or a11y for keyboard-short), Eevis's post on a11y is a good starting point for some general concepts, such as inclusive language. If you'd like to know a little more about why a11y is important, Up Your A11y has a great intro that we'd recommend you check out.

For the endlessly-curious, Ben explains a bit more about why some ways of sharing code in your post are more accessible than others, while Alfie shares some best practices that might help with writing more accessible posts, and Nero starts an important conversation about how accessible emojis are.

Let's talk about images

A picture speaks a thousand words, or something, right? Well, that depends on your alt text...

Not only do pictures help break up the wall-of-text effect of an in-depth tutorial, but they can also help influence the energy of your post and impact on your audience. Just remember to include alt text, so that anyone unable to view the image still knows what it is. For example, the alt text for this image is An audience in an atmospheric auditorium:

An audience in an atmospheric auditorium

Photo by Luis Quintero

While a fix is on the way, cover images currently don't have alt text, so while they're handy for positioning your post at or near the top of the feed, don't rely on the cover image itself to convey any information that's important to the message of your post. That means, even if you have a pretty graphic title for a cover image you still need to write that title out in full.

Speaking of titles

We at DEV always recommend taking some extra time to choose a title that sets your post apart from the rest. There are only so many "The best 10 JavaScript tools" posts any dev has time for, so what about "How this one JS tool changed my workflow and freed up time to grow a herb garden"? The key here is to actually deliver on your title, rather than use it as click-bait to draw in views. Photos of your herb garden (with appropriate alt text) help:

Not quite herbs but genuinely my garden

And finally

We are here to learn from each other. If you have any other hints, tips, or best practices for post authors please feel free to share them below! We'd love to learn about the things you've discovered here on DEV and how you connect with your readers.

Remember that all posts should abide by the Terms of Use and Code of Conduct. This includes inclusive language, original work that you have the right to share (with credit to anyone else whose original work you're citing or referencing), and not posting for the purpose of producing backlinks or driving traffic to an external site.

Discussion (16)

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄
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Ella Ang (she/her/elle) Author

Oh, wow! Really, @jmfayard ? Thank you!

That means a lot, because you have an impressive portfolio of great posts. I've enjoyed reading your contributions in the past, and always look forward to a new one!

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited on
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Ella Ang (she/her/elle) Author

I would not have expected anything less from you!

Thanks for expanding on this post with a more in-depth technical guide. Let's hope this trend positively influences content on DEV for the better (and doesn't just spawn a bunch of copycat-titled listicles smh)...

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sidcraftscode profile image
Siddharth Chaudhary

Thanks for this!😁

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Ella Ang (she/her/elle) Author

You're welcome, @sidthedev! Hope it comes in handy for you in the future, and please feel free to use a version of this on your own Forem (with attribution to all the original contributors of the material, of course!)

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Gabriel Guzman
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ortonomy profile image
πŸ…–πŸ…‘πŸ…”πŸ…–πŸ…žπŸ…‘πŸ…¨ πŸ…žπŸ…‘πŸ…£πŸ…žπŸ… • Edited on

Before writing an article,

STOP.

Think aobut why you're writing. Is it to inform? What are you adding to the body of knowledge on dev.to? Are you writing an opinion piece? Are you writing to help guide someone through some difficulty you had? Are you writing to make someone aware of an approach to a problem that you thought was novel, unique, performant or just interesting? Do you need help with a problem?

If the answer to any of these is yes, it's probably a good idea to get writing -- people might be interested in reading what you've got to say!

If you're writing to just promote yourself via click-bait - whethere it's just to be 'visibile', or promote your library... consider why. This isn't a marketing channel, whether you like it or not. And every single content marketing fluff piece you put on here degrades the quality and experience for everyone else. And it take dev.to one step closer to be like Medium, and not like its own, joyful place to talk about software development and engineering.

Just my two cents :P

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grayhat profile image
Mwenda Harun Mbaabu

Worthy reading, thank you for writing this.

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Ella Ang (she/her/elle) Author

And thank you for reading it! Where would any of us be without readers?

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Suzanne Aitchison (she/her)

Great write-up!

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Ella Ang (she/her/elle) Author

Thank you! I can't really claim any of it is particularly original, but I hope I did justice to accessibility here, albeit briefly.

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Lee Wynne

Nice post, some great tips here 😎

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Ella Ang (she/her/elle) Author

Thanks @leewynne ! Feel free to use any of this post for your own Forems (along with attribution to the original sources ofc)!

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joaomcteixeira profile image
JoΓ£o M.C. Teixeira

Hi @ellativity ,

is there a way to change the colors of code syntax highlight? I find the default very darky. Thanks, it is great to be part of the DEV's community.

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Shaiju T

I want to see options like buttons to make bold, add code, heading etc like stackoverflow.com have. Its top feature. And its hard for a beginner to know about markdown etc.