PBG Content Committee

Instructions for Authors

These Instructions for Authors provide an overview on authoring articles for the Plant Breeding and Genetics Community of Practice on eXtension. For specific information on style and formatting conventions, see the PBG Style Guide and references therein.

  1. Overview of the Publishing Process
  2. Terms of Use and Copyright
  3. New Article Page
  4. General Format of Articles
  5. Figures
  6. Tables
  7. Links and Anchors
  8. Style and Formatting

Overview of Publishing Process

Before starting a new article, ensure that you are not duplicating existing PBGWorks content by checking the Article List. When the article is written and ready for PBG review, the document is attached to a new article page, which will have an identifying node number. The attached text document will be edited by PBG staff using Word’s track edit feature. Once PBG staff, reviewers, and authors agree on article wording; which includes, content, grammer, and composition, the article can styled as html on the publishing page. A final web styling evaluation will be made before publication to eXtension.

Terms of Use and Copyright

All authors for PBG must obtain an ID from eXtension and sign the eXtension Individual Contributor’s Agreement.

All articles published on eXtension are covered by eXtension's Terms of Use and are All Rights Reserved by the eXtension Foundation.

Permission must be obtained and documented from copyright holders before using copyrighted works, including text, tables, photographs, figures, graphical artwork, videos, and so forth, in eXtension content.

Please see the attached document for some general guidelines for requesting copyright permissions.

New Article Page

eXtension content can be created, edited, and viewed through links on the eXtension Publishing page; navigate to this page using the link at the top any page on the PBGWorks website.

To start a new article, click on the Add new Article link on the eXtension Publishing page. This will open an empty Edit form that includes various drop-down, checkbox, and text form fields to complete.

Title Field

Enter your article title in the Title field. See the PBG Style Guide and Naming Pages on eXtension for additional information.

Body Field

Enter remaining article content (excluding article title) in the Body field. Refer to General Format of Articles, below.

The Body field uses FCKeditor, an open source visual HTML editor. This WYSIWYG editor allows the user to build HTML-encoded pages without knowing HTML. Entered Text directly into the editor using the keyboard, or cut-and-paste text from other files (web pages, PDF files, word processor documents, text files, etc.) using Paste as plain text in the toolbar. Pressing the Enter key on the keyboard inserts a paragraph break; pressing Ctrl-Enter inserts a line break. The FCKeditor toolbar (Fig. 1) includes tools to insert, format and/or edit text, bulleted and numbered lists, hypertext links, anchors, images, special symbols, and tables. See the FCKeditor Toolbar Quick Reference for a brief overview of toolbar functions. For more detailed information about using FCKeditor, see the FCKeditor v2.x Users Guide.

Figure 1. The FCKeditor toolbar includes tools for simple HTML formatting, as well as for inserting and editing hyperlinks, images, and tables.
Figure 1. The FCKeditor toolbar includes tools for simple HTML formatting, as well as for inserting and editing text, hyperlinks, images, and tables.

Vocabularies Tab

Categorize the article by selecting one or more subtopics. You can multiple select by holding the Control (PC) or Command (Mac) key and clicking on topics.

Groups Tab

Select the checkbox(es) beside the PBG Group(s) that will receive notifications about, and have access to, the article being created. It is a good idea to select the PBG Content Committee. You might need to Join that group if you don't see it in the list. Keep the Public box unchecked to prevent the general public and search engines from finding your page.

File Attachments Tab

Add a file to your article using this field. Attached files will not be shown once published to www.eXtension.org.  Accepted file formats include Microsoft Office (.doc, .xls, .ppt, .ps, .docx, .xlsx, .pptx) and OpenOffice (.odt, .ods, .odp) documents, images (.jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .png), text (.txt, .csv) and archives (.zip). The maximum upload size is 100MB per file.

To upload a file, click on Browse to locate and select the file on your local computer, and then click Attach. The Link checkbox next to the file name determines whether or not a hyperlink to the file is included at the end or your article. To delete an attached file, select the Delete checkbox and resubmit your article.

Revision Information Tab

All sumitted versions of an article are saved in a time-stamped revision history that can be viewed under this tab. To view an earlier version of an article, click on its timestamp; to revert to an earlier version, click on revert. Compare differences between two version by selecting them (radio buttons) and clicking on Compare.

Same as Revision Tab at top of article page.

Review Process Tab

Each article passes through a series of stages (Draft, Ready for review, In review, Review complete, Author revisions, Copy edit, Ready to publish) before publication to the eXtension website. Select the appropriate stage for the version of the article you are saving.

Same as workflow tab at top of article page.


To save your work, press the Save button at the bottom of the Edit form. To abandon edits, click the Back button or simply navigate away from the page. Remember: if you navigate away from this page, you will lose any changes you've made since the last time you saved your work. Save early and often!

General Format of Articles

Each article should include the following elements:

  1. Title
  2. Summary
  3. Body
  4. References Cited
  5. External Links
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Funding Statement
  8. Author info via the Metadata Tab

Optional element:

  1. Cite This - This element can be added directly above the funding statement to reflect a situation where the main content (e.g. a learning module) is not the webpage. For an example, see Genes, Genomes, and Mendel learning module. The format of the citation should be consistent with the required formatting for references.


Maximum title length for eXtension content is, in general, 255 characters; however, use clear wording that is succinct and no more than 5 or 6 words, if possible. See the PBG Style Guide and Naming Pages on eXtension for additional information.


Provide a short (maximum 400 characters) description of the article; this text will appear as a teaser in tables of content.


Organize the article text into meaningful sections and, if necessary, subsections. Cite primary sources as necessary. In addition to text, the body can include lists, figures, tables, embedded videos, slide presentations, hypertext links, and so forth.

References Cited

List bibliographic information for any citations made in the body of the text here. Include hyperlinks, preferebly to HTML versions, when available. See the PBG Style Guide for additional information on style and formatting.

External Links

List bibliographic information for external links (outside the eXtension.org domain) provided in the article that are not cited. External links should be included in content sparingly and selectively. See the PBG Style Guide for additional information on style and formatting.

Additional Resources

List bibliographic information for related, relevant sources of information here. Be selective; include resources that will provide your intended audience with useful supplemental information. Include hyperlinks when available. See the PBG Style Guide for additional information on style and formatting.

Funding Statement

Acknowledge sources of funding for the development of articles and provide appropriate and necessary disclaimers. For example:

Development of this lesson was supported in part by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture, under Agreement Number 98-EATP-1-0403 administered by Cornell University and the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project, agreement 2009-85606-05673, administered by Michigan State University. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Author info via the Metadata Tab

Enter author information on the Metadata form that is located by clicking the Metadata tab at the top of an article or eXtension page. The author info in added near the bottom of the metadata form under Contributors. After entering the information be sure to click Save at the bottom of the form. You can reorder the authors' names by selecting a "weight" for each contributor. The smaller the number is (-10 is the smallest) the higher in the list it will appear.

Embedding Video

If you'd like to embed a YouTube video, go to the video on YouTube, click "Share" and "Embed", then copy the embed code (ctrl c), then go to the article on PBG. Click "Edit", and "Disable rich text". Then copy the embed code into the place where you want the video to go. Save, and your video will be embedded in the article!


Authors must obtain and document permission from copyright holders to use photographs and other images before using them in eXtension content.

Before inserting an image into content, reduce its size to the pixel dimensions desired for final display—eXtensions's image specification is no more than 300 pixels in width at 72 dpi (if a larger image is needed to see details, include a small image in the article and provide a link to the larger image from the article). Oversized images embedded in the page can consume significant bandwidth and can slow down webpage access for those who are restricted to dial-up connections. Many software programs can be used to resize images, including free web-based applications, such as Picnik or FixPicture, and desktop applications—both free/open-source (such as XnView and GIMP) and commercial (such as Microsoft Paint and Adobe Photoshop) software.

To insert an image into an article, follow these instructions:

  1. In the Body field, place your cursor on a blank line (press the Enter key) in your content where you want to insert the image.
  2. Click Insert/Edit Image in the editor toolbar.
  3. In the Insert/Edit Image pop-up window, click Browse Server to open your personal files directory, which will open in a new window.
  4. If the image you want to use is located on your local computer, first upload it to your personal files directory (after correctly resizing it). Click on Browse to locate and select the file on your local computer, and then click Upload.
  5. With the file you want highlighted in your personal files directory, click Send to fckeditor. This will close your personal file directory and take you back to the Insert/Edit Image window.
  6. Write a concise description of the image in the Alternative Text field, chose the image alignment you want from the Align drop-down menu, and then click OK.
  7. Click Submit at the bottom of the Edit form to save your work.

Always include alternative text conveying equivalent information in the properties of inserted images. The alternative text is displayed to users with slow internet connections who do not download images automatically; based on this text, users can then decide whether or not they want to download the image. More importantly, screen reader software used by the visually impaired and others users with disabilities will read the alternative text included in the properties of images on webpages.

Do not present textual information as graphical images; the information becomes unavailable to search engines, text readers, and so forth.


Use tables to present extensive data in an organized manner.

Simple tables are easily constructed using the assorted table, row, column, and cell tools in the FCKeditor toolbar. Alternatively, tables can be constructed in a word processing or spreadsheet program and then cut-and-pasted into the editor. Additional editing may be required to finish the table, but this can provide a good starting point. When using this approach, do not paste using the Paste as plain text tool Paste as plain text in the toolbar; instead, after copying the table to the clipboard, place the cursor at the desired location for the table and paste by pressing Ctrl-v (in Windows) or Command + v (in Macintosh). Unfortunatley, placing tables into the editor using cut-and-paste introduces unnecessary and potentially troublesome program-specific HTML code that should be removed (press Source in the toolbar to view and edit HTML code).

Links and Anchors

Use links and anchors to to make clickable text that directs readers to other web resources, directs readers to specific parts of web resources, or opens an email client to compose an email.

Use links and anchors in the body of the article only where they are relevant to the context. Think of links in the text as footnotes. Links should enhance the user's experience by directing them to high value content, not detract from their experience by side-tracking them or making the article difficult to read.

In the body of the text, phrase-linking is preferred over native URLs; select a word or phrase from the regular text to turn into a hypertext link. For example: "All authors for PBG must obtain an ID from eXtension and sign the eXtension Individual Contributor’s Agreement."

In most cases, complete and properly formed URLs entered as text (http://www.extension.org/, for example) will automatically be converted to hyptext links when the article is saved. Similarly, a properly formed email address (name@university.edu, for example) will be made clickable. Otherwise, highlight the text to be made into a link, click on Insert/Edit Link Insert/edit link button in the toolbar, select the desired type of link (URL, Anchor, or email address), and enter the URL or email address. When linking to a page on the pbgworks website, exclude the domain name (use /node/131, not pbgworks.org/node/131).

Note that spammers often harvest email addresses from webpages; think carefully before including an email address in an article.

Verify that all links and anchors work properly before submitting articles for review or final copy-editing.

Style and Formatting

Resources to use for guidance in style and formatting, in order of preference:

  1. PBGWorks Style Guide
  2. eXtension Manual of Style
  3. Wikipedia Manual of Style
  4. Chicago Manual of Style,

The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary is the dictionary of choice for spelling and related items in eXtension articles. Note that some professional societies and other groups may have conventions for spellings of some words that are different from those found in the Dictionary; follow the convention of the Dictionary.

ASA–CSA–SSSA Publications Handbook and Style Manual provides the basis for our formatting of cited references and other bibliographic information, except that names of journals, proceedings, transactions, and so forth are not abbreviated. It includes numerous examples.


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