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Review Formatting Guide: Is Yours Easy to Read?

IsaacT

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A GUIDELINE TO FORMATTING AND ORGANIZING REVIEWS!!!

Hello LPFers! I have recently sort of found my style for making reviews, and have a clear idea on how I will format mine each time I make a review. With that in mind, I realize not everyone knows how to format their review threads and this is my attempt to spread the gospel(of formatting?). You don't need to be able to spit code faster than Trevor to be able to make your thread look like a professional write-up. All you need is a few pointers and the patience to make your thread look as good as possible.

Some of You said:
What is formatting, and why do I need to do it?
Well, formatting has to do with how you display the text on your screen, how you make use of images and videos, and how you organize your thread.


Displaying Text

Let's start with how you display the text. You have a couple of different settings you can tweak very easily from the "Post New Thread" screen.

Settings for displaying text:
  • Bold, Italics, and Underline Options
  • Fonts
  • Font Size
  • Font Color
  • Alignment
  • Lists, such as bullets and numbering
  • Emoticons
Lists:
Let's start with lists, the easiest way to create a list is to list off the things you want to be in it, highlight the items, and then click either the "Ordered List" or "Unordered List" button in your toolbar. An "Ordered List" will add numbers in front of each line(so be sure not to highlight your header), while an "Unordered List" will add bullets. As you can see, above I decided to use an Unordered List.

Alignment:
Alignment is something people occasionally use to really add that extra touch to their review/multimedia thread. A lot of times, when I use it I do so to center photos such that they flow nicely with the text. Remember that while the photos will take up a set amount of space, the text will still go for the length of the page if allowed. To give the text boundaries, simply move to where you would like the text to stop for that line and press "enter"(or return). A bit of experimenting will allow you to easily adjust all lines of text such that they lie nearly flush with your photos. Most times, however, this should be left alone, as the software will naturally align your text left, which is natural for most people.

Font Color:
Font color is one of the easiest ways to spice up your review and make it look professional. I use the font color button to give my titles and sections some flair as well as to highlight key words or phrases. Simply highlight the words or phrase you want to color and then select the color from the toolbar's drop down menu. For the advanced users, there is a website which can convert wavelengths to HEX codes. I believe RHD developed this tool so big props to him! When you have made a word or phrase a different color, you will see something like this:



Simply remove the word black, and input the HEX code generated in between the quotation marks to easily make your font color the same as the wavelength you are reviewing!!! For example, if you wanted your font to be 488nm colored, it would look like this:



Make sure you keep the "" marks, otherwise you will get something weird looking.

Font Size:
I like to keep two or three font sizes per review thread. I typically have one big title, which would usually be the name of the product or service, then I would have the next step down for the titles of each of my major sections, and then I leave the standard font size for the substance of each section. This makes your titles easily stand out and creates very visual breaks in the review. This keeps the review from being overly exhausting to read.

Fonts:
I don't mess with fonts. If you use all the other formatting listed in this guide appropriately, you will really not need any alternate fonts to make stuff stand out. Stick to the default and people will find it easy to read.

Bold, Italics, and Underlines:
These are very useful tools for stressing words or phrases which may be important. If you have something you don't want your audience to miss, these tools can create a stop sign in the readers mind to pay attention..

Use Emoticons:
These are a great tool for those of you who type with a little attitude! Got sarcasm, or dry humour? Both of these tones of writing can have a tendency to come off in the wrong way. In order to help people know your meaning, use the smiley emoticons in the toolbar to the right of your textbox. Clicking on one will insert it into the textbox wherever your cursor is. You can also click [more] beneath the smileys for....you guessed it!!!! More emoticons!

Making Use of Images

One of the other big things people can mess up is formatting images correctly. The following steps, if used, will make your photos enhance your thread visually instead of complicating it.

  1. Take Quality Photos. They aren't worth much to people if they are too blurry.
  2. Upload your Photos to a Media site like Photobucket. This will allow you to....
  3. Embed Your photos. Yes, you can upload directly to LPF, however it is much more visually appealing and is in fact easier for people to view if you simply embed your photos.
To embed a photo, simply copy the URL(or web address) of your uploaded photo and then click the button that looks like some mountains and the sun. This will bring up a box where you can paste the URL into. Your final product should look like this:

[IMG ]www.photobucket.com/mysuperawesomephoto[ /URL] (except without the spaces)

One of my pet peeves is having to open and manually view every single photo you have "attached" to a post. Photobucket is free, so why not?

Organization of Ideas

One of the biggest things I see when reading reviews is a big block of text. Everything is sort of haphazardly thrown in and the reader is left trying to piece together the ideas into a flowing thought.

Each person will have their individual methods which fit them and their personality. Make a lot of reviews and put effort into each of them and you will find what works best for you....with that said, here is an example of how I organize my reviews:

Wannaburnstuff's Example Template said:
Introduction

This is where I tell you all what I am writing about, how I acquired what I am writing about, maybe what I had for lunch today, and some of my initial thoughts on what I am writing about.

Section 1

This is many times a look at the parts involved or the characteristics of the laser or item in question. I will list off all the things I observe and offer my opinions on them.

  1. This scuff mark angers me.
  2. I like that I can take this apart.
  3. The service offered was timely and polite.
  4. The beam characteristics are exemplary.
Sometimes I will end this section with some ratings. Doing this out of 10 is easiest for people to get quickly but....

Scuff mark: 0/87 - Ugh....I expected more from this company!
Disassembly: 67/87 - I really like this, great feature
Service: 87/87 - Above and beyond, mate, above and beyond!
Beam Characteristics: 71/87 - Mode hops some, but amazing divergence!

Section 2

This will either be a performance run down or beamshots. I usually post all my beamshots one after another. You don't want to read my thoughts between each one, and i don't like how it looks between each photo.

If you have a video, I recommend using FORMATTING to create a very visible VIDEO title. Otherwise people may skip past it on accident. Like this:

VIDEOS!!!!


Closing Remarks:

this is where I offer my final thoughts and recommendations, and possibly an anecdote or two to really bring it in :)
Also, remember to use PARAGRAPHS!!!! Paragraphs separate ideas and are one of the most basic ways to keep ideas together. Don't confuse people with your brick of thoughts....please?

Closing Remarks:

That is all I can think of right now. Are there any formatting tips YOU would like to impart unto the masses? Let me know below! I would like to see people create more and more quality reviews because frankly, I have too much time on my hands and I run out of sh*t to read! I hope this has been an enjoyable read for everyone, and look forward to any feedback!

Thanks,
Isaac
 

IsaacT

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Reserved for Edits/Updates as well as More Info, should it be necessary.
 

EpicHam

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If you are so inclined.
Have a look at my CNI PGL-III-C review.
http://laserpointerforums.com/f52/review-cni-pgl-iii-c-532nm-500mw-nominal-83951.html

As I've always believed a picture speaks a THOUSAND words.
So if you can do everything with PICTURES.

If it can be done by graphs and pictures .
DO IT.
Don't type it .
SHOW it .

Thats a lesson I learnt when I spent days looking at walls of text typed by my professors.

Credits for the effort , but it can be SOOOOOOoooooo DUUUUuuull.
Just show us gosh darn it.
 

Cel

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Thanks, WBS! Now reviews will be more standardized! :beer:
 

EpicHam

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There's a major problem with this sort of organic formatting.
Its always going to be cluttered somewhat.

What we need isn't just a guideline.

We need a fill in the blanks style of review template .
Where there's simply no way for the info to be messed up .

A sort of .... German approach to things....
If you want perfection and organisation. No one can defeat the Jerries and the Jappies

Hmmm.. Maybe I'll open a thread that'll provide them with a template..
Update. Coming soon
 
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IsaacT

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I feel that a straight up template is not the best way to go because I believe that reviews should be an expression of the individual. I don't want to see unoriginality, just good formatting. :)

There's a major problem with this sort of organic formatting.
Its always going to be cluttered somewhat.

What we need isn't just a guideline.

We need a fill in the blanks style of review template .
Where there's simply no way for the info to be messed up .

A sort of .... German approach to things....
If you want perfection and organisation. No one can defeat the Jerries and the Jappies

Hmmm.. Maybe I'll open a thread that'll provide them with a template..
Update. Coming soon
 

EpicHam

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I feel that a straight up template is not the best way to go because I believe that reviews should be an expression of the individual. I don't want to see unoriginality, just good formatting. :)
You do have a point , but then grading will be a bit hard.
Each to their own I guess :beer:
 

BowtieGuy

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Nice general formatting guide wbs! :)

Using any your pointers will make anyones reviews look more professional.
The best thing about your guidelines is that people can pick and choose any combination of the pointers to personalize their own review.

I like the idea of using some color in the text, I'll have to try and remember to do that myself.

:gj:
 

IsaacT

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Thanks Bowtieguy! That originality factor played a big row in how I did this thread.

PS- bowtieguy do you like doctor who? Is that the bowtie thing?
 

BowtieGuy

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Good question; actually, the "Bowtie" part of my name is a reference to the Chevrolet Logo, which looks like a bowtie.

One of my other hobbies is my 1967 Chevy Nova SS.
Sometimes, Chevy owners are called "bowtie" guys. :)
 
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IsaacT

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Thanks Infinitus! That should help newcomers get more info at once!

@EpicHam: I see you went ahead and made that template. I suppose that could work for those who want a cookie cutter review option. When I get to my computer I could see about putting a link to your template here. Although if I hadn't been strolling through the reviews I never would have seen it....

Cheers and :beer:'s
Isaac
 
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EpicHam

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Thanks Infinitus! That should help newcomers get more info at once!

@EpicHam: I see you went ahead and made that template. I suppose that could work for those who want a cookie cutter review option. When I get to my computer I could see about putting a link to your template here. Although if I hadn't been strolling through the reviews I never would have seen it....

Cheers and :beer:'s
Isaac
Well you can upload yours too.
I'm thinking about of standardizing LED guy's reviews.

His reviews just COMPLETELY blows mind out of the water .
Well the forum thread is everone's canvas , but there still are some school of thoughts artists follow in their creation right?
Can't wait to see yours.
Cheers
:beer:
 

IsaacT

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EpicHam said:
Well you can upload yours too.
I'm thinking about of standardizing LED guy's reviews.

His reviews just COMPLETELY blows mind out of the water .
Well the forum thread is everone's canvas , but there still are some school of thoughts artists follow in their creation right?
Can't wait to see yours.
Cheers
:beer:
I will not be uploading a template as I don't like the idea of standardizing something that I put a LOT of thought and effort into every time I decide to do a review. As for standardizing the "LED guy"'s reviews, I wouldn't do that. It is his intellectual property, and creating a template so others can copy his work is a pretty low thing to do. Everyone has their own style and they deserve to have their style to themselves. If you want to create a template for your own reviews, that is your prerogative, but I won't be doing that.

My view is: I will help give people the tools and guidance, but in the end it is up to them to create something that they can be proud of.
 
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EpicHam

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I will not be uploading a template as I don't like the idea of standardizing something that I put a LOT of thought and effort into every time I decide to do a review. As for standardizing the "LED guy"'s reviews, I wouldn't do that. It is his intellectual property, and creating a template so others can copy his work is a pretty low thing to do. Everyone has their own style and they deserve to have their style to themselves. If you want to create a template for your own reviews, that is your prerogative, but I won't be doing that.

My view is: I will help give people the tools and guidance, but in the end it is up to them to create something that they can be proud of.
Ok..
Alright.
I won't do it , but I just think there should be a standard to everything you know...
Its like writing a annual financial report.
There are standards for those stuff , you won't see people running around drawing butterflies on the front page :p
 

IsaacT

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Reviews aren't like annual financial documents. Financial documents are all cut and dry facts, black and white and boring as fuck. Reviews aren't so serious. And they shouldn't be boring either. And I think standardizing would make them so boring. People putting their own spin on it is what keeps them interesting. If every review looked the same people wouldnt read them for fun. Those reviews would only get read when someone is really determined to find out about that particular laser. Then people would stop seeing comments on their reviews amd would quit writing them.
 




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