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Tips from our Editors

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Creating content for the web is different from creating academic content for school. When you develop content for the OLC, you are sharing your ideas for a wider audience in a more informal but accessible way. For storytelling types, you still need to provide a key message and provide examples to back up your points, but you have the freedom of using all sorts of media (i.e. GIFs, videos, audio, images) to show what you mean.

Our Editorial Team has compiled a list of tips to keep in mind BEFORE and AFTER you develop your submission. Take a look to see how you can elevate your submission and make the publishing process easier for yourself.

Before Developing Your Submission


  • Before you get started with development, the biggest question we have for you to consider is, “Why are you creating your submission?” Think hard about why our audience should listen to the information you are sharing. When you have figured out your big “why”, consider what actions our audience could take after consuming your content.

  • In general, the goal of any submission to the OLC is to share your experiences, insights, and advice in order for students to learn from you. It’s an educational opportunity! Think about why you are creating and how other students can benefit from your ideas. You may want to be explicit about this when introducing your video, blog, etc.

  • For Gallery samples or Interview Question Database submissions, figuring out how the audience will benefit from your sample will influence how you frame and discuss written elements like “Annotations” or “Question Intent” respectively.


  • Nice job figuring out your purpose! Now, remember to also think about who exactly you are writing for -- your audience. OLC content is consumed by current and prospective SFU students, alumni, staff, faculty, and the general public. That’s why it’s important to address your submission to the specific audience that you choose to target.

Before you create, consider answering these general pre-development questions:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What do they want to know?
  • Why do they want to know this and why now?
  • What is and isn’t important to them for them to know?
  • By answering these pre-development questions, you will have an easier time ensuring the points you share make sense and are relevant to the audience. Even when you are creating for an audience of SFU students, not everyone will be from your faculty and therefore might not understand specific terminology and jargon you are using. For example, when you are using terms specific to your field, consider explaining them or providing links to a webpage that explains them.


  • We LOVE it when our contributors stray from the beaten path and get creative with their content. This is a safe and constructive publishing environment for you to experiment with deviating from the conventions of a submission type. The key point here is that we want you to create the kind of content that you want to read, watch, listen to etc. Don’t see something on the OLC that you were hoping to learn more about? Create it yourself!

  • There are uncountable angles and voices that you can take when creating your submission. For example, if you are creating content about your co-op term, consider narrowing in on a single aspect of the position, skill or tool you learned on the job, or an up-and-coming technology in your field.

  • We also recommend using humour where you can to draw in your audience and approach challenging life and work experiences. Try using a funny GIF, a giggle-worthy title, or a funny anecdote in your next submission to the OLC.

Instead of this: Try this:
"My Co-op Term in Tech Support” “Tales of a Tech Warrior: A Day in the Life”

Brainstorming Questions

  • You might want to consider using the following prompts to when brainstorming and developing your submission.

Remember, every situation you encounter comes with a learning or growing opportunity; carefully reflect on your experience, and offer readers an honest transcript of your experience including the emotions you felt, doubts, and how you rose to the occasion. Consider the following questions when using the reflective and introspective angle:

  • What is the main idea/lesson/strategy that I am trying to convey?
  • What specific events of my story help prove/demonstrate this idea?
  • What challenges did I overcome? How?
  • What skills/strategies/lessons did I learn?
  • How does this information help the reader?

If you're creating content about your experience with any SFU Program, we recommend that you consider explaining:

  • How you decided on the SFU program you wanted to get involved with (i.e. talking to professors, advisors, etc.)
  • What inspired you to join?
  • What were some of your most memorable experiences, and why?
  • Do you feel that participating in this experience gave you a competitive advantage when entering the workforce?
  • Do you feel that this experience played an important part in where you are today?

If you went on experience that took you out of town or internationally, considering sharing:

  • What did you do on your trip?
  • Did working or studying abroad change your perspective of your education at SFU?
  • Share your favourite or most challenging moments
  • Were there any major cultural barriers you had to overcome?
  • Would you recommend the experience to future students?

If you are a Co-op student, consider sharing:

  • Tips about how you got ready to apply for your first work term
  • What you wished you knew before starting your first co-op
  • How to interact with your co-workers, etc.

People like reading about other people, so make it personal and share your own opinions. Consider sharing the following:

  • What steps did you take to prepare for your career? 
  • Do you do any volunteer work or have you joined any professional associations/clubs?
  • Did you have any mentors during or since university?
  • What advice do you have for undergraduates about how to succeed in such a competitive job market? 
  • What advice do you have for students about to launch their careers?
  • If you had the opportunity to live your undergraduate career over again, would you choose to do anything differently?
  • What has your career trajectory looked like?

Consider answering the following when using the educational angle:

  • What is this new skill/strategy that you are sharing with your peers?
  • How did you learn and explore more about this topic?
  • What tips and valuable resources did you find most useful in your learning process?
  • Did peers/colleagues/educators aid in your skill development?

After Developing Your Submission

So, you just created a draft of your submission. Way to go! Before you submit, read the following tips to make sure you’re sending in your best work for publication on the OLC.


  • Proofread your written content with an eye for structure and readability. Ask yourself whether you have laid out (and stuck to) a central message or argument. 
  • Also, have you supported your key point with relevant details? You may notice that you got sidetracked by examples or stories that do not enhance your key message. If in doubt, ask yourself, “Would another SFU student in a different faculty or alumnus understand what I am saying?”.
  • Also, do you have a clear beginning, middle, and end? While writing for the OLC is less formal than an academic paper, you still want to make sure the audience can tell where your content begins and ends.
  • High-level edits can take time to figure out, so try sleeping on your article. If you wrote today, you may want to wait for at least a day before editing it because we make logical errors in our writing that only make sense to us at the time, whether it's an idea or argument. When you come back to your written content with a clear mind, though, those mental connections you have while writing are gone, and you're more likely to see what is really written on the page.
  • These are the easier, grammatical errors that you want to address before submitting. So, make sure that you double-check everything: check your facts, figures, or names, such as the name of a company or employer, year, etc., and make sure that they are all accurate.
  • Make sure that you edit your language with the intent of whittling away words that don’t serve a function or add needed descriptiveness. For example....
Instead of this: Try this:
“Your work term will likely be full of obstacles that when overcome will eventually lead to you becoming a better employee in your field, but during the process of overcoming them will probably be difficult to deal with.” “You will face difficult obstacles in your work term, that when overcome, will help you grow as an employee.”
  • It’s really important to be concise, conversational and focused when writing because readers usually scan instead of reading the entire written piece unless they're really interested in the topic. This means you need to be concise with your writing by avoiding wordy, lengthy sentences and "flowery" language (i.e. metaphors, academic or professional jargon that most readers may not understand). 
  • Aim for short, to-the-point paragraphs by removing redundant, repetitive words or sentences that do not add value to your writing. If you think a sentence is getting too long, try splitting it into two. 
  • We recommend reading your written content out loud and slowly to help you identify any awkward or run-on sentences that may only make sense to you but not to others. This technique will also help you be careful in not missing subtle errors that spell checkers don't help you identify, such as "one" and"on".
  • A common error we see in submissions is the use of a passive voice. For example...
Instead of this: Try this:
“Recommendations were made…” “I recommend that you…”
  • You can make your writing more engaging, personal, and less academic by using a first and second-person perspective. For example, “I realized climbing this mountain could be harder than I thought.”. 


Show, Don't Tell

  • You really want to pull the reader right into your workplace, your life, or your experience so they can visualize it. You can show (instead of telling) by being specific, setting the scene, giving the readers context, sharing details, and invoking the senses. Avoid generalities or redundant phrases.

  • You might want to consider starting your blog in the middle of the action. For example... 

Instead of this: Try this:
“I was having second thoughts moving to Toronto for my co-op job.” “I’m standing in the airport with my luggage and boarding pass. My mom has tears in her eyes and my boyfriend won’t let go of my hand. I don’t want to let go either. What have I done, taking this co-op job in Toronto?”
  • Other ways of showing include using quotes from the organizations, employers, volunteers, etc. you are writing about. Quotes put a personal twist on the information you're providing, which makes your article more interesting. Also, try using hyperlinks to allow readers to get more information about a concept from elsewhere on the OLC and other web pages.

  • On the other hand, you want to connect the dots between your examples and ideas. Sometimes you might have a lot of fantastic ideas you just have to share, and this is great! The danger of having too many ideas in an article is the key message might get muddled and watered down. Consider how your supporting examples and stories connect to the bigger picture, and how they work cohesively as a whole. We highly recommend using headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to structure your supporting points and to make your blog post clearer to read quickly. By using short paragraphs, subheadings, bullets, and links, you can help make your post more visually appealing to read through.



  • So, what was the point of your article? Tell us again in your conclusion. Your ending is your chance to talk about your aha moment, share the key thing that you learned, or give the readers something to take away. You want your readers to stay with you until the end, so don’t forget to end it, and don’t give away your ending early. Be careful not to preach to your peers, but finish with an encouraging tone. Ask yourself, “What would I like my reader to consider and what is it that I want my readers to do next?

  • This is your opportunity to reinforce your message and to let your reader know what the takeaway is from the article. For example... 

Instead of this: Try this:
“So, as I said at the beginning, I should have talked to my co-op coordinator when the problems first happened. Make sure you do that so you don’t end up wasting your time figuring it out on your own.” “Problems can arise during your co-op term, but you are not alone. I didn’t realize I could have connected with my co-op coordinator to figure out how to move forward, but when I did, she was really supportive and had useful resources for me. When I go into my next job, I now know that SFU Co-op has my back.”
  • You also want to make your writing specific, all the way to your conclusion. For example... 

Instead of this: Try this:
“This may sound cliché, but I learned so much on my co-op. Everyone was so helpful and this experience has really made me happy I chose to join co-op.”   “This Co-op really taught what it means to multi-task, work to a deadline, and be an effective project manager. My supervisor guided me in how to set priorities and my colleagues shared their time management tips with me so that I could be successful. I feel ready to take on ever more independence in my next co-op role.”


Images and Other Media

  • Every blog post on the OLC needs to have a lead image. This lead image is your first opportunity to convince readers to check out your blog and help with your storytelling. Your lead image can help do a lot of heavy lifting for you if you choose a photo that tells a story. Utilize an eye-catching background, take a dynamic action shot, or choose a photo that captures a unique aspect of your day-to-day work. For example....

Instead of this: Try this:
A woman sitting at her work desk Maja standing with a paper fish
  • A picture is worth 1000 words, so try to add a couple of images relevant to the topic you're writing to make your post visually appealing. But wait! Our site lets you also add videos and audio to your post, so see if you can add multimedia to help illustrate your point and make your blog post more fun.


Develop a Title

  • This can be one of the more challenging parts of writing a post. You want to catch the attention of readers and choosing a generic title is not going to be as effective. Feel free to get creative, but remember to stay relevant to the message behind the article. We have a few common types of titles you can try using when thinking of a title:

    • Play with alliteration (“Are You Suffering From Beginners Bloggers Block?”)

    • Use lists (“Top 10 Ways To...”)

    • Use “how-tos”: (“How to Survive Midterm Season...”)

    • Use colons for a punch: (“Taking A Chance: How I Became More Confident”)

  • Choose a title that is relevant to your audience or might make them curious or intrigued. For example...

Instead of this: Try this:
“My Co-op Experience in Government”  “Discovering the Fun Side of Working in Government” 


Convert to Image

  • Convert and save your submission as a PDF and image using the following naming convention:
Discipline_Relevant Term_Program_Content Type - R, CL, JD_Name or ID.pdf or .jpeg or .png


Submit Your Sample

  • Use the OLC gallery submission form to provide details, consent and upload your sample

Submitting content

Since we have a wide range of content type, each one is submitted following different steps and guidelines. Make sure to read carefully all the instructions for the type of content you will submit


Remember ot take a look at our Contribute section for all the steps on how to submit content to us