The style in this guide applies to cigionline.org and OpenCanada.org. Digital publications are acquired and edited by the digital media team, under the direction of the online managing editors. CIGI editors provide proofreading support for cigionline opinion pieces, but do not proof OpenCanada content. Proofreaders may work on a draft or final Word file, or review text once it is uploaded to the cigionline content management system (i.e., entering changes into copy loaded on the Drupal platform).

For the most part, the same CIGI mechanics of style are applied — spelling, punctuation, capitalization, treatment
 of acronyms and abbreviations, treatment of numbers and capitalization of article titles — whether copy is destined for the website only, or will be both digital and in print. There are, however, a few exceptions to the usual style rules, which are set out below.

Opinion pieces acquired for cigionline are usually written in
 a more journalistic, less academic style. Tone, voice, style and presentation differ — for example, language should be less academic or formal; first-person plural voice may be used — at the managing editor’s discretion. Footnotes should be used sparingly, if at all, as footnotes are awkward in the display and format of a digital publication.

Exceptions to CIGI Style for Online-only Articles

Opinion pieces should not use references and instead rely on hyperlinks. Citations of any kind are very rare 
in editorial or op-ed content. As a general guide, there should be one footnote per 250 words. However, if a hyperlink is available for a reference, it should be used instead of a footnote. Only use a footnote when there is no digital link available. References should be reserved for rare cases such as when an academic writer has made heavy and explicit use of references and no suitable substitute hyperlinks are available. Look for ways to present the material in an accessible and uncluttered manner. If references must be included, there should not be more than five references in an opinion article.

In the first instance, hyperlink directly to the source, linking the URL to a minimum amount of appropriate text.

The following are suggestions for working around references:

  • bringing references inline, using CIGI’s author-date citation system; or
  • working sources into the text as part of the narrative.
    • A descriptive blurb (styled as a “subtitle” in the Drupal template) below the article title may be used for opinion pieces. The line is capitalized in sentence style and usually without end punctuation. 

    • Article titles are usually less formal and less academic and are often written or rewritten by the managing editor for maximum audience appeal (proofreaders are also invited to comment on titles, with this objective in mind). The final decision on a title for online-only publications rests with the managing editor.
    • Proofreaders need to check that links are active.
    • The online fields in Drupal for figure and table titles, notes and captions cannot include superscripts, italics, bold or other character formatting, and have a maximum length.

Dual-format Publications 


Occasionally, articles published first as an opinion piece on cigionline will also be planned for secondary publication as a CIGI paper or report — for example, as an essay within a special report. Given that the article will first be published as a digital publication, the author should ensure that citations are used sparingly, as this will impact the display of the article online as noted above. 


The digital and publications teams will coordinate to make sure that the manuscript and proofs are handled as formal publications and move through the regular checklists and processes for CIGI publications, such as author review and approval of edits and titles. 


On a collaborative project, all editors and proofreaders should be mindful of late-breaking corrections or revisions that could impact collateral media, such as video title cards, press releases and so on.

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