Posting for Dummies

The single most important thing to remember about posting? IF IN DOUBT, SEND AN EMAIL TO THE EDITOR AT EDITOR@HNN.US!



1. Create an account on HNN's system. Click on the login button underneath "Student Shortcuts"

2. Click "Log in here".

3. Click "Create new account"

4. Complete the form. Under "Middle name," put your first name (unless, of course, you're particularly proud your middle name -- this is an old system relic). YOU MUST USE A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS!

5. Click "create new account." You will be redirected to the main page and will receive an email shortly.

6. Your email will look something like this. Click the redirect link.

7. Click Log in.

8. Now, create your password! It needs to be at least six characters, using upper and lowercase letters and using numbers and punctuation (like 7yewSf? -- and please, don't use this password!)

9. Ignore everything else on this page, scroll down, and click save. Then, send an email to the editor at to inform him/her of your new account. The editor will then enable posting privileges.


Now that your account is set up, you're logged in and your posting privileges are enabled, you're going to want to be able to post! So, go this this URL: (You'll probably want to bookmark this.)

If you're not already logged in, a prompt will load to do so. If you are logged in, you'll be taken straight to the "Create Content" screen.

For the purposes of this demonstration, we will be posting a Breaking News story. The fundamentals are the same for all News/Roundup content.

1. Copy the title of the article into the Title box.

2. Under Article Topic, select Breaking News

3. We use an open source WYSIWYG text editor called CKEditor. It can be a little ... finicky when HTML-coded text is copied into it, so once you've copy-and-pasted your excerpt (typically the first three paragraphs, depending on length of the original article), be sure to scrub the code by clicking the "Remove Format" button in the upper-right hand corner. [NOTE: CKEditor seems to work the best in Internet Explorer and Firefox -- in that order]

It's also a good idea to make sure that the Paragraph Format is Normal:

4. Scroll down and put in the source info. When dealing with publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc., use the abbrevations NYT, WSJ, WaPo. A master list of commonly used abbreviations can be found here. If the source is from a foreign country, put that country's abbreviation after the source, as in Telegraph (UK). If the country abbreviation is the same as that of a U.S. state (as in Canada, CA, which is also the postal code for California), put in the full country name, as in Globe and Mail (Canada).

Note Bene: The SOURCE should be the original source, not the source where you happened upon the piece. EG: If an AP story shows up on the New York Times website, it's still an AP piece and AP should be listed as the source. You can often tell the source by examining closely the URL. If it's an AP piece it will usually say AP in the URL.

Under date, omit preceding zeros, i.e. use the format x-x-xx or x-xx-xx.

5. Click save. You will be redirected to the newly-created page. Use this opportunity to double-check the format and correct any errors, if necessary

Occasionally, you will encounter system errors (a validation error is the most common). If you do, DO NOT PERSIST IN ATTEMPTING TO POST THE PIECE! Instead, contact the editor.

III. Guidelines for Excerpting

The overwhelming majority of your aggregation posts will be fair-use excerpts. This means that they will be brief -- think of them as teasers that will entice the reader to click on the link to the full article. Depending on length, you'll typically want to limit your excerpt to the first three paragraphs.

Note that you can excerpt other paragraphs later in the article if the historical focus doesn't appear until then.

At the end of every excerpt segment, be sure to add an ellipsis.

Ellipses are the clue to the reader that what they're reading is an excerpt. You must add an ellipsis at the end of every excerpt segment. If you're excerpting the first three paragraphs only, it'll look like this:

Grab your passport and go to -- Ohio?

The Ohio Historical Society started its first-ever Passport to Your Ohio History program on May 24. The free program is designed to continue for about two years.

"We were looking for a way for people to learn about the sites and learn about Ohio," said Jane Mason, spokeswoman for the Ohio Historical Society. "It's a great way for people to travel around Ohio and see the wonderful sites."...

Note the placement of the ellipsis after the quotation mark. Always put your ellipsis there: ?... ; !... ; .... ; )... ; etc.

If you're omitting a section in between two excerpted paragraphs, you need an ellipsis:

Grab your passport and go to -- Ohio?...

"We were looking for a way for people to learn about the sites and learn about Ohio," said Jane Mason, spokeswoman for the Ohio Historical Society. "It's a great way for people to travel around Ohio and see the wonderful sites."...

The same is true if you're omitting the beginning of an article or paragraph, only the ellipsis goes at the front:

...Grab your passport and go to -- Ohio?...

..."It's a great way for people to travel around Ohio and see the wonderful sites."...

For Breaking News interns

Occasionally, you'll run opinion pieces in Breaking News and Historians in the News. That requires a slightly different technique of tagging the source, since you'll have to identity the author of the piece and provide a brief bio. The proper format is to include the author's byline in italics at the beginning of the piece (make sure that any book titles in the byline are either unitalicized or put in quotation marks) and include the author name in the source tag. It should look like this:

For Roundup interns

Since Roundup is for opinion pieces, there's a different way of identifying the individual author. Simply include the author name in the title and put the byline at the top of the excerpt. It should look like this:


There are two basic news aggregation departments at HNN: the News Department and the Roundup Department. The News Department consists of the Breaking News, Historians in the News, and Obituaries subdepartments, and the Roundup Department consists of the Historian's Take, Media's Take, Talking About History, Pop Culture, and Books subdepartments.

Before posting, be sure to establish that the site is credible. We only want to draw attention to articles from websites that are authoritative. One of the central reasons readers come to HNN is because they believe we are a source of reliable information. (At the same time we obviously cannot vouch for every fact included in the articles we excerpt in the Roundup and News departments.) What should you look out for, then? Be especially wary of websites that claim the Holocaust never happened, or that 9/11 was a Zionist or government plot. And never, ever, post an article from a website sponsored by racists like David Duke. The only time you should consult such websites for HNN is if you are doing a news story about such websites.

At all times keep in mind that HNN is not a scholarly journal. It is a journal of opinion aimed at a wide readership. Thus, our articles should be accessible to the ordinary educated reader. We are not interested in publishing articles that require specialized knowledge to understand them.

Breaking News

Breaking News stories are the most common of all posted excerpts on HNN. A Breaking News story is typically a general-interest story in the mainstream media (though not necessarily) that has an historical focus or theme. Here's a list of recent Breaking News excerpts -- as you can see, they cover a wide variety of topics, but they all have an historical theme:

  • Watergate records release?
  • Teen solves riddle posed by Isaac Newton
  • Were there more Manson murders?
  • Emory U. acquires rare Afro-American photos
  • Ike family still upset with memorial design
  • Jamaica seeks heritage status for sunken city
  • Soviet WWII sub found at Baltic Sea bottom

Note that while articles on public history -- i.e. historic preservation, new museum acquisitions, etc. -- new archeological findings, and historical anniversaries usually go in Breaking News, articles on new historical scholarship or research usually do not. This leads to ...

Historians in the News

If an article is about an historian or historians, prominently features an historian, is an obituary of an historian (historian obits do NOT go into the Obituary subdepartment) or is an interview with an historian, it's an Historians in the 'News article. Some examples:

  • "Allan Lichtman [historian at American University]: Obama's victory is certain" (If you're reading this after the 2012 election and Obama's victory wasn't certain, remember that historians are not prognosticators!)
  • "Historians raise Civil War death toll"
  • "Orlando Figes [British historian of the Soviet Union] faces new allegations of impropriety"
  • "Drew Gilpin Faust [Harvard president and historian] interviewed in NYT"
  • "Paul Fussell dies at 88; social historian and critic"


This is where obituaries of prominent persons go, like presidents, senators, Supreme Court justices, foreign leaders, etc., as well as people connected with important historical events. And sometimes, the editors throw in entertainers that were important in their fields -- George Harrison, for example.

Roundup: Historian's Take

Simply put, if an opinion piece is written by an historian. Who is an historian? Someone who meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • PhD in history
  • Academic position teaching history
  • Graduate student in history
  • Author of at least one book on an historical topic
  • Political scientist or legal scholar who often writes on historical or constitutional topics

BEWARE OF PSEUDO-HISTORIANS! There are some people who have written books, published articles, and who may even have PhDs, who hold ideas well outside the realm of accepted scholarship. Examples are Gavin Menzies, who holds, among other things, that the Chinese originally discovered America in 1421, that a Chinese trade delegation launched the Italian renaissance, and that Atlantis actually existed; David Barton, an evangelist minister and conservative activist, is another.

Roundup: Media's Take

This is where we run articles written by members of the media and other writers which take an historical approach. Op-eds in the New York Times that focus on history but are written by the in-house columnists go here, for example.

Note that there should be a certain base level of quality. If the author doesn't know what they're talking about, rethink posting an excerpt -- instead, tell the editor! There may be a good story in rebuking the article for HNN.

Roundup: Talking About History

This is where we excerpt articles about history that appear in the media. Among the subjects included on this page are: anniversaries of historical events, legacies of presidents, cutting-edge research, and historical disputes. Note that authors do not have to be historians.

Roundup: Pop Culture

This is the one Roundup department that is the most similar to Breaking News. This is where film, documentary, and museum reviews go. Note that many of these articles could also be included in Breaking News.

Roundup: Books

This is where excerpts of book reviews that appear in mainstream media publications go.

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